Presidential Candidate Sites Fail On Privacy — AGAIN!

Privacy — NotI’ll start with the punchline: the Websites from 6 top presidential candidates FAILED our test for privacy.

In July 2004, I published  5 reports that applied a portion of Forrester’s Web Site Review methodology to the presidential candidate Websites for Bush and Kerry. Here are the titles and executive summaries:

  • Presidential Candidate Sites Fail The Privacy Test. Forrester evaluated how the presidential candidates’ Web sites handle their privacy policies. While both sites failed, the Bush site makes its privacy policy more difficult to find.
  • Bush’s Site Fails The Accessibility Test. Forrester evaluated how well the presidential candidates’ Web sites provide access to visually-impaired and hearing-impaired users. The Bush site failed against our criterion; while the Kerry site passed. But both sites could do a better job of making their sites accessible.
  • Candidate Sites Aren’t Easy For Physically Impaired. Forrester evaluated how well the Bush and Kerry Web sites provide access to physically impaired users. While both sites failed our test because key navigational elements require overly precise mouse movements, the Bush site makes it easier for users to select what they need from the key left-hand navigation bar.
  • Bush Site Mishandles User Errors. Forrester evaluated how well the Bush and Kerry Web sites recover from user errors. We found one major flaw: The Bush site fails to help users fix incorrect credit card information.
  • Presidential Candidate Sites Are Hard To Read. Forrester evaluated the text legibility of the Bush and Kerry Web sites. Both sites failed our test because of small fonts in major navigation options and poor color contrast in other text elements.

So I decided to do it again during this presidential campaign season. The first document, called “Presidential Candidate Sites Fail On Privacy,” examines how well 6 candidate sites performed in adhering to several of Forrester’s Web Site Review criteria around “trust.” Here’s the executive summary from that report:

Presidential candidates use their Web sites to reach out to a wide range of constituents. But how effective are they at building trust during the interactions their supporters have with those sites? To help answer that question, we evaluated the sites of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. All of the sites failed our privacy and security criteria. Candidates should make trust a major element of their site design requirements.

That’s right, the presidential candidate sites once again failed our privacy criteria.

The bottom line: Hopefully the candidates care more about privacy than they show in the design of their Websites.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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