One of the largest roles of a political campaign website is to gather data from voters and donors. Sites gather data in a variety of ways, whether through simple contact forms, volunteer sign ups, online contests, contributions, or other methods.
However, in the last cycle, a new strategy rose to prominence, the registration landing page. This is a registration page that appears before the main site and prominently prompts visitors for their data in order to proceed onto the site. There is also a less distinguished "Skip to the Site" option typically located in the bottom left, allowing people to continue moving on to the site.
2008 certainly was not the first year for this strategy, but it had previously been a pretty rare strategy and reserved mainly to high profile races. This past cycle saw the landing page technique become ubiquitous, appearing on campaign websites at every level. Our Vote the Site research reported a large amount of landing pages in House races, where they had previously been very rare.
My opinion of this strategy has evolved over time. Two years ago when they were less popular, I recommended our clients against them. I felt they were a usability nightmare and could potentially turn undecided voters away from the site as they struggled with figuring out how to skip the registration and access the content, causing the candidate to lose that vote.
However, as the registration landing page has grown in popularity, my usability fears have equally diminished. Voters are now so accustomed to the landing page, that they are much less likely to "bounce" off the site because they can't navigate it. Also, that upfront registration ping has a decent chance of getting a casual supporter to surrender their data in order for campaign updates about the candidate.
We now recommend registration landing pages for nearly all of our political websites. In addition to just recommending them, we urge our clients to get them up as soon as possible. These pages have proven themselves to be a valuable data collection tool, and by getting them up early in the campaign, the candidate definitely gets a leg up on their opponent(s) by building their list quicker.
As a voter, what is your opinion on political registration landing pages? Do you frequently sign up through them? Do they ever lessen your opinion of a candidate or prevent you from visiting the site? To see this philosophy extended to the corporate world, check out an example of a great landing page.