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June 7, 2017

Green Party wins General Election…for digital performance

The Green Party leaves its political opponents in the dust when it comes to running a user friendly website.

By James Nunns

The Green Party is the winner of the General Election, at least when it comes to digital performance.

The party was found to be miles ahead of its fellow political parties across a number of different categories that helped to give it the fastest user experience across both desktop and mobile devices.

That’s according to findings from Dynatrace which monitored the speed with which potential voters are able to access the homepages of the Conservatives Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Green Party, and SNP websites.

These were monitored over a seven-day period and the sites were analysed to see how effectively they had been designed for performance. The analysis revealed what the user-experience was like for those trying to access the homepage as they search for information to help them decide where to cast their vote on the 8th of June.

Green Party

“As recent elections have shown, digital technology is playing an increasingly important role and exerting more influence on the electorate’s decisions come polling day,” said Michael Allen, VP EMEA, Dynatrace. “The web is often the first place that we look for the information we need to make the biggest decisions in life; from buying a car, to booking a holiday or choosing a leader for our country.”

“As such, each of the parties vying for Number 10 should remember the old adage that first impressions really do count. Delivering a poor experience to anyone looking for information on the party website in the lead-up to an election could ultimately result in a lost opportunity to convert visitors to voters. Each party should therefore ensure its website is optimised to deliver the best possible user-experience, especially as we get closer to the wire and web traffic increases.”

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The results found the Green Party to have the lightest website, with the lowest byte count, a low number of objects (images, videos, and social media plugins that load on the page), and few hosts (third-party content providers that serve up the page objects). All these factors combined help to minimise the complexity of the homepage and gives a slick experience to users.

Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems all performed badly, partly due to having homepages that redirect visitors to a splash landing page which is designed to capture contact information and voting intent.

The knock-on effect of this is that it adds an additional step by delivering further objects from more hosts. Users are forced to complete this step or click a button to bypass before they can go to the homepage, giving the user a less favourable experience.

General Election“It’s interesting to see that there is such a variation in the build quality of the various party websites from the user-experience perspective,” said  Allen. “In particular, it’s worth noting the traditional mainstream parties have a splash page to capture voter data and intent. The drawback to that is the delay for the user in getting to the main website. It’s always worth weighing up whether the potential gain from introducing features like this will outweigh the negative impact on user-experience.

“However, despite that, the Conservatives have managed to keep response time pretty low, probably because it has so few hosts. The other thing that jumps out is the size of the UKIP site on mobile devices, which seems to relate to a recent Facebook video. High byte, object and host counts can have a draining impact on the user-experience, so it’s best practice to keep those to a minimum. This is particularly true on mobile devices, where the network connection is not always consistent.”

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