STYLES make fights — or so goes the boxing cliché. In 2008, they make presidential campaigns, too.This is especially true for the two remaining Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Reporters covering the candidates have already resorted to traditional analysis of style — fashion choices, manner of speaking, even the way they laugh. Yet, according to design experts, the candidates have left a clear blueprint of their personal style — perhaps even a window into their souls — through the Web sites they have created to raise money, recruit volunteers and generally meet-and-greet online.
That is, Mr. Obama’s site is more harmonious, with plenty of white space and a soft blue palette. Its task bar is reminiscent of the one used at Apple’s iTunes site. It signals in myriad ways that it was designed with a younger, more tech-savvy audience in mind — using branding techniques similar to the ones that have made the iPod so popular.
“With Obama’s site, all the features and elements are seamlessly integrated, just like the experience of using a program on a Macintosh computer,” said Alice Twemlow, chairwoman of the M.F.A. program in design criticism at the School of Visual Arts (who is a Mac user).
In contrast to barackobama.com, Mrs. Clinton’s site uses a more traditional color scheme of dark blue, has sharper lines dividing content and employs cookie-cutter icons next to its buttons for volunteering, and the like.
“Hillary’s is way more hectic, it’s got all these, what look like parody ads,” said Ms. Twemlow, who is not a citizen and cannot vote in the election.
Jason Santa Maria, creative director of Happy Cog Studios, which designs Web sites, detected a basic breach of netiquette. “Hillary’s text is all caps, like shouting,” he said. There are “many messages vying for attention,” he said, adding, “Candidates are building a brand and it should be consistent.”
In the long run, however, we believe that it is the ability to motivate the electorate that matters, not simple matters of style. And he’s a Mac user from way back.