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The 2008 Presidential election is being fiercely contested by Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. Both candidates are using the Internet to help their campaigns woo volunteers and campaign contributions. But who has the better Website?

The Web Marketing Association has been judging Websites through their annual WebAward Competition for Website development since 1997. More than 18,000 site evaluations have been tabulated during that period and they took up the task of evaluating both candidates Websites.

During the first week of October 2008, 110 Internet Website experts who serve as WebAward judges reviewed both www.johnmccain.com and www.barackobama.com using the same criteria used in the annual WebAwards program. The sites were judged side by side on seven criteria of a successful Website.

Here are the results:

Design - Asked "which Website has the most pleasing design?" WebAward judges selected the Obama site 4 to 1 over the McCain Website.84.5% of them voted for Senator Obama's Website and 15.5% selected Senator McCain's Website as better looking.

Innovation - Website innovation also went in favor of Barack Obama. By the same margin as design, the vast majority of WebAward judges (82.4%) thought the Obama Website seems more innovative, while only 17.6% favored McCain's.

Content - In terms of having the most appealing content, judges again selected the Obama Website over John McCain 's Website, although by a narrower margin than the first two criteria. 71.6% of the WebAward judges felt barackobama.com has more appealing content for visitors compared to 28.4% for johnmccain.com. WebAward judges also found that the Obama Website is more effective for telling the candidate's story and attracting contributions and voters to its cause (72.2% Obama vs 27.8% McCain).

Ease of use - Senator Obama's Website was seen as easier to use by the WebAward judges than Senator McCain's. 73.8% selected barackobama.com as easier to use compared to 26.2% of WebAward judges who felt johnmccain.com was easier.

Copywriting - It is obvious that both campaigns have excellent writers on staff. Neither Websites have any of the editing issues some large organizations can experience. However, the WebAward judges gave the advantage to the Obama site (70.1% over the McCain site 29.9%).

Interactivity - Interactivity makes a Website more than just an online billboard and both candidates were effective in giving visitors to their Websites plenty to see and do. Nevertheless, once again the WebAward judges gave the edge regarding interactivity to the Obama Website (75.2%) over the McCain Website (24.8%).

Technology - Use of technology is evident in both candidates' Websites, however, the clear favorite for the WebAward judges was barackobama.com winning 82.4% of the votes compared to johnmccain.com with only 17.6% of the votes.

"Regardless of who you will be voting for in the next presidential election, Websites are going to play an ever increasingly important role in how candidates get their messages across to the American voters," said William Rice, President of the Web Marketing Association "Based on the findings of this survey by some of the top Internet professionals available today, the Web Marketing Association names barackobama.com the winner of the McCain vs Obama Website Challenge. We wish both candidates the best of luck in their efforts to become the next President of the United States in the November election".

This survey was first used during the Democratic primary race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Senator Obama’s website won that challenge and he went on to win the Democratic nomination.

When the WebAward judges were asked "If the election was to be held today. Which candidate would you be more likely to vote for?" 54.6% responded Barack Obama, 15.7% responded John McCain, 11.1% voted neither and 18% reported that they are a non-US judge and can not vote for anyone in a US election.

Methodology

An email was sent to all past WebAward judges requesting that they participate in an online survey between October 6 and October 13, 2008. 110 WebAward judges agreed to participate in the project. They reviewed each site and completed the brief online survey.

Judges for the annual WebAward competition consist of a select group of Internet professionals who have direct experience designing and managing Web sites,-including members of the media, interactive creative directors, site designers, content providers and webmasters. These WebAward judges have an in-depth understanding of the current state-of-the-art in Web site development and technology and they apply that knowledge to the entries they review. Past judges have included top executives from leading organizations such as A&E Television Networks, Agency.com, Blattner Brunner, Bridge Worldwide, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Comedy Central, Disney, Euro RSCG, Ion Global, J. Walter Thompson, John Deere Company, New York Post Interactive, Organic, Inc., Refinery, R/GA, Saatchi & Saatchi, SAP, Starwood Hotels, Sun Microsystems, Warner Bros. Online, Xerox and Zugara.

About the WebAwards

The 12th annual international WebAwards competition sets the standard of excellence in 96 industry categories by evaluating Web sites and defining benchmarks based on the seven essential criteria of successful Web site development. The goal of the Web Marketing Association, sponsor of the WebAwards, is to provide a forum to recognize the people and organizations responsible for developing some of the most effective Web sites on the Internet today. Entrants benefit from a Web site assessment by a professional judging panel and the marketing opportunities presented to an award-winning Web site. The Web Marketing Association also hosts the Internet Advertising Competition Awards.

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