Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Importance of Online Organization

Tomorrow or the next day I hope to have a piece out about Katie McGinty and her candidacy.  I'm mid-article on that one.  While I was writing it and looking at information on the various gubernatorial candidates though, I came across Jo Ellen Litz's campaign website and I was enthralled, but not in a good way.

My husband and I sat for ten minutes or so and felt compelled to pour through this website, which is like a messy GeoCities page circa 1997.  Her page makes an awful first impression.  In 2013, and let's be honest for several years now, a candidate's website has been, is, and will continue to be one of the best and quickest ways to get a feel for a candidate.  Beyond looking at a candidate's biography and positions, you can get a feel for the level of their organization.

Commissioner Litz's site appears initially to consist of exactly one page including everything, and indeed the proverbial kitchen sink, although there are actually many separate pages.  Unfortunately, those pages aren't linked in any logical way with any kind of organization.  In fact, once you start clicking on links that are actually subpages of, we find that the page is a labyrinth of subpages.

In Commissioner Litz's Business ABCs, she is quoted as saying:
"Small business people tend to be jacks-of-all-trades," said Litz. "They try to do as much as they can for themselves, especially if they cannot afford to hire staff specialists."
To this end she has created the Electronic Business Pack, a list of tips for small business owners, and those looking to open small businesses, to follow.  It's got some good advice, and she's right that small business owners of have to jacks-of-all-trades.  A good small business owner has to also be aware of what they don't know.  In 2013 you don't have to hire someone to build a decent website.  The odds are that you know someone that knows the basics of putting together a good-looking - and more importantly - well-organized website.

What Commissioner Litz has is more like three websites jammed into one space.  She's got a website for herself as Commissioner, herself as an active member of the Lebanon County community, and herself as candidate for Governor.  To be honest, I'm not even sure if it's appropriate for her gubernatorial page to be the same as her Commissioner's page.  To be clear, I'm not suggesting that there's anything specifically illegal about it, it just seems like bad form.  Not just Commissioner Litz's constituents, but her potential supporters should have a better organized and more coherent place to visit her online.

The really sad thing is that Commissioner Litz seems, from a thorough search of her page, to be a dedicated Lebanon County community member.  She seems to have a detailed, practical knowledge of how to get things done in Lebanon County and beyond.  Regrettably, I fear the casual wanderer will turn away from Commissioner Litz's site before they've had a chance to discover her finer qualities.  I don't know whether the site was put together by Commissioner Litz herself or a member of "Team Litz", but a serious gubernatorial candidate deserves a serious and separate gubernatorial campaign website.