Because I’ve lived this nightmare too many times: How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell.
Here’s the latest episode in the ongoing trainwreck known as the GOP website. Would somebody please sit the GOP’s web designers down and give them a good lesson on how these Intraweb thingies actually work?
The Republican party took down its innovative link-shortening tool Tuesday for several hours after pranksters had a field day using the tool to associate the GOP with bondage sites.
As part of its new media strategy, the Republican party launched a new site called gop.am on Monday. It’s a URL shortener designed to make it easy for conservative web surfers to exchange links to web pages.
Pranksters almost immediately began using the service to link to controversial or ironically intended websites, such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. gop.am apparently started blocking such links at some point Tuesday morning, and the gop.am homepage was taken offline.
The website is back online late Tuesday morning PST, and the company that designed the site in collaboration with the Republican National Committee plans to add an automatic filtering system to help with the high volume of what its president calls “pornographic, lewd” or “hateful” URLs being added to its service.
Failing to foresee this kind of thing is so incredibly amateurish, it boggles the mind.
GOP Spent More Than a Million Dollars to Launch a Disastrous Website
Is Anyone Minding the Store at the GOP’s Brand New Website?
GOP.com: Web-Savvy Students Not a Must
GOP Posts Gmail Password/Login on New Site
New GOP Site: NSFW
UPDATE at 12/15/09 12:18:29 pm:
Screenshots from the latest trainwreck. (Hat tip: recusancy.)
Here’s an interesting contrast between the GOP, which spent $1.4 million on a buggy, incomplete website redesign, and the Democratic White House, where they just launched a redesign of the site using the open source Content Management System (CMS), Drupal. (And it looks great.)
Publisher Tim O’Reilly has a good piece on it: Thoughts on the Whitehouse.gov switch to Drupal.
Yesterday, the new media team at the White House announced via the Associated Press that whitehouse.gov is now running on Drupal, the open source content management system. That Drupal implementation is in turn running on a Red Hat Linux system with Apache, MySQL and the rest of the LAMP stack. Apache Solr is the new White House search engine.
This move is obviously a big win for open source. As John Scott of Open Source for America (a group advocating open source adoption by government, to which I am an advisor) noted in an email to me: “This is great news not only for the use of open source software, but the validation of the open source development model. The White House’s adoption of community-based software provides a great example for the rest of the government to follow.”
John is right. While open source is already widespread throughout the government, its adoption by the White House will almost certainly give permission for much wider uptake.
Unbelievable. The Republican Party’s pathetically inept new website actually cost them more than a million dollars to set up: Entering digital age an expensive proposition for GOP.
And for that $1.4 million, they got a website that crashed continuously on its launch day, had almost no real content, was mocked across the blogosphere, allowed trolls and Ron Paul idiots to post antisemitic images, and violated several basic principles of good web design. Excellent work, GOP.
The Republican National Committee shelled out $1.4 million dollars over the last six months for Web sites and services, much of which was spent on gop.com, the party’s major Web presence that was unveiled this month, new Federal Election Commission expense reports show.
The figure is far higher than what experts estimate it should have cost, and five times the amount its Democratic counterpart spent to host and maintain democrats.org.
The biggest disparity seems to be bandwidth costs–the RNC paid Smartech Corp., a Republican-focused hosting firm, more than a million dollars, plus $22,000 to Eloqua, compared to the DNC’s $203,000 to Sprint, Switch and Data and Servint Corp.–despite the fact that the two sites’ traffic, which determines bandwidth usage and, largely, hosting costs, was the same.
But the design of the site itself was costly, too. In the months prior to the October 13 launch of gop.com, the committee paid $328,000 to 11 firms for Web development. (The Democrats, which did not completely overhaul their site during that time period, spent $45,000 on Web development.)
And when the GOP’s graphics-laden product was unveiled, many of the main sections appeared missing or broken, including one advertised as listing future party leaders, which showed up blank.
Smartech Corporation has been taking big money from the GOP for years:
In the 2004 election cycle (2003-2005), the Republican Party paid:
SMARTECH CORPORATION $2,275,081 (153 expenditures) for internet services, computer consulting, email programming, website services, web hosting, email services, wireless services, internet consulting, domain registration, and network consulting.
In the 2006 election cycle (2005-2006), the Republican Party paid:
SmarTech Corp. $8,539 (2 expenditures) marked “Paid for by transfer from RNC”
SMARTECH CORPORATION $3,320,066 (245 expenditures) for equipment, domain registration, web hosting, web services, email programming, data storage, internet connection, internet services, in-kind phone services, computer programming, database programming, license fees, video services, online video streaming, software purchase, training, office supplies, airfare, transportation, meals & lodging, sales tax, etc.
In the 2006 election cycle (2005-2006), the National Republican Congressional Committee paid:
SMARTECH CORPORATION $2,228 (41 expenditures) for “Generic Web Hosting”.
A Ron Paul lunatic has been spamming the official GOP website since October 14th with insane, offensive, and/or antisemitic pictures like these: Thomas Kubica’s Photos.
Unbelievable. Is anyone awake over there at this shiny new website that’s not really a website?