Friday, August 03, 2007

Donnelly has a website too!

Good news, people who find my reviews of mayoral candidate websites mildly amusing! Tom Donnelly has joined the fray!

Let's take a journey through

First off, big points to Mr. Donnelly for bravely using the word "for" in his URL instead of making it "". Smart move!

Not picking a stupid domain name offsets the points lost for having half a mile of mysterious blank space at the bottom of each page. What's up with that, Tom? Are you trying to hide the hit counter at the very bottom? Because we can just scroll down, you know.

Now is the point where I'd normally count the pages on the site and compare it to the other candidates. Donnelly certainly looks like the winner if you consider his navigation bar, but here we encounter the dark underbelly of deceit at the heart of this site! There are a whopping 13 navigation buttons, but a bunch of them are basically the same damn thing.

Contact Info, Contributions, Feedback, Help Tom, Site Problem?, and Stay in Touch all fall under the general category of "contact me". Sure, they're mildly different, but they could have all been on the same page with no problem so I'm only counting them as one page. Donnelly still leads the pack on sheer website size, but man that's a lot of contact pages! Hell, even the banner at the top of every page has contact info on it. On the plus side, this does suggest that Donnelly really really loves people to contact him, which is sort of cute.

The front page of the site has a friendly welcome in which he mentions "fiscal stability" and crime reduction twice. One suspects that this may be what his campaign will focus on. He also has contact information in the body of the page. Someone give the guy a call already, I'm starting to think he might be lonely.

Let me take a moment to digress here. What the hell is up with people not proofreading their websites? Is it really that hard to just read the thing over after you've made it? Then you can avoid minor but stupid things like:
please visit my campaign headquarters at 713 Main Street at [sic] call the headquarters at 978-342-8590
You end up looking stupid when your campaign website has typos, grammatical errors, and crazy punctuation and capitalization. Spell-check doesn't cut it!

But back to the site...

The Bio page is pretty decent, if a bit dry. It doesn't have the bizarre gaps we see in some other candidates' biographies, so I guess he's not trying to hide much. Although halfway through the page the format changes from going chronologically from top to bottom to the reverse. Very disorienting if you're trying to read it while drunk (which I'm not, but I assume others will be).

There's also a nice picture of his family, which looks less creepy than some pictures of this sort. Unfortunately it's over-compressed, which makes his daughter's eyes look like they're glowing demonically.
Moving on, the Issues page is the best I've seen so far. It addresses a lot of issues, includes some specifics, and is light on the crazy. Crime prevention and fiscal stability predictably get top billing.

A bit on "City Government Reorganization":
As someone who has navigated the halls of city government for years, I am aware of how frustrating it can be to communicate and find the answer to simple questions.

I will as Mayor immediately upgrade our telephone system, work to improve our computer technology and make all forms available on-line to better serve citizens.
Aha! So that's why there are so many ways to contact him!

He also kisses elderly ass:
Our senior citizens are a source of wisdom and inspiration for all of us. We must continue to develop programs and plans to address the needs of this growing population, especially in the areas of transportation, housing, health, public safety and recreation.
That's not unreasonable, of course. Sucking up to the elderly has rarely hurt a candidate, and I don't think there's been a lot of talk about them in general. I'm just jealous, because as a white male between the ages of 18 and 34 nobody sucks up to me except every advertiser in the country.

Overall, the issues page is really pretty decent. At least on par with Lisa Wong's, and probably a bit better. Well done!

There's a Links page, which is as boring as one would expect. That's all about that.

Moving on to the Photo Gallery! It's less entertaining than Ted DeSalvatore's photo gallery, but that's mostly because it's a real photo gallery and not a crazy-ass collection of photos of garbage (literally). There are two photos I particularly enjoy though.

First is this incredibly subtle one entitled "Tom going door to door.":Apparently the title "Tom standing next to a flag" was deemed too obvious.

My other favorite is the one of his campaign announcement. It's big and badly framed, so I'm just cropping out one section. Just look at the excitement in the crowd!

There's also a Press Release page, but all press releases are boring. They're also linked from the Issues page, so it's another redundant link!

That's about all, so what's the verdict?

In my opinion, this is the best of the mayoral campaign websites to appear so far. Good "Issues" page, decent background info, nothing too crazy, and innumerable pathways to get in contact with him if you want to. It loses a little bit for not being proofread adequately, but is still miles better than DeSalvatore on that account (as well as just about everything else). Wong's site is a bit more streamlined and grammatically immaculate, but doesn't quite have the same depth of information available. Dan Mylott's site is of course now a moot point since he's dropped out of the race.

You're left, Ronald Dionne! Make with the website!


Anonymous said...

FYI the picture of Tom going door to door posed in front of the flag is with his aunt, I trust he's posing with others besides family, he's got a tough same old image to shake off if he's going anywhere.

fitchburg-shuffle said...

Tom has left everything out on the table for people to poke at. He's not hiding anything. Like him or not, Tom will be our next mayor. Those elderly, who Mylott stroked for so many years, will see a familar name instead of Mylott. Bet they fill in that blank.

Good looking family too!

ReallyRachel said...

I think Tom hit his demographic correctly and there's a lot of gentle, subtle class here.

No name-calling. No negativity. No gaps in the resume.

It's obvious that Tom subscribes to the KISS (keep it simple stupid) philosophy, tried and true.

He says things we can all agree with (well mostly), and instead of "attacking problems" he offers solutions AND a timetable.

I'll ignore the one grammar error - it is just a preposition. I like the multiple contact links and the heavily duplicated page links. Not everyone knows to look in the right/left/upper/lower corner, and having the links sprinkled generously assures that no one is missed. The numerous pages with minimal text on each makes it friendly to our dial-up folks - which many folks on limited income still use.

All in all, I'll give the site four stars and predict a Donnelly-Wong mayoral race come September.

I won't be displeased with either.

Good job, Tom.


Anonymous said...

The numerous pages with minimal text on each makes it friendly to our dial-up folks - which many folks on limited income still use.

Dial-up folks may not appreciate the 82 seconds it takes the homepage to load. While there are only a few images, they're not really sized for web use.

Greek town said...

Tom must try to remove himself from the past 8 years of fitchburg politics, how i don't know but he must come up with some way of defending himself against being consumed by the mylott era. thats going to be tough but not impossible. hes a good guy but he's being branded as part of that.

Jason said...

Sadly, this is the last web review. I was one of the ones who found them entertaining. Dionne doesn't have a computer, and says he has no need for one. He didn't sound like a guy who was ready to embrace the Internets when I talked to him. Sadly.

Anonymous said...

Good information but the setup, fonts, et cetera are very ammatuer-ish. Not a whole lot of money spent on getting the site designed.

Anonymous said...

In the Tom talking to a voter photo, his mom looks great! She's a very nice lady

Anonymous said...

Good information but the setup, fonts, et cetera are very ammatuer-ish. Not a whole lot of money spent on getting the site designed.

I'm pretty sure that all of the candidates' sites are homemade. Donnelly's was done in Frontpage. Wong's was "Website To-nite". DeSalvatore copied and pasted from MS Word INTO "Website To-nite".

They're all pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

Tom has no choice but try to attempt to shake his almost unshakeable good old boy network image, he's on the board of directors and thats going to hurt him badly.

someone said...

Lisa Wong's updated website will be launched soon. Wait 'til you see it!

Anonymous said...

This is going to be an election of the lessor of the evils i'm afraid

webmaster said...

Dear Unicow,

I wish to thank you for your honest, open and sincere critique of the Donnelly website. I would like to address some of the issues you raised.

First, although you may not believe it, we had no less than 10 people proof read the site. We uncovered a ton of errors and corrected them before we went public. Good job, you got us! hehe We did miss a critical one. That oversight has been corrected. So has the chronology on the bio page. That one evaded us also.

In fairness to Mr. Donnelly the only link on the pages that go to him is his personal e-mail address. All of the other pages that you addressed go to either me, the webmaster, or Joe Engwer, the campaign manager. Your point was well taken though, and we have merged the /contact page with the /site problem page and the /feedback page.

As for the other pages, we feel that they are proper. I hope we can just agree to disagree. And as far your issue with the "redundant" links we'll again have to agree to disagree. I feel that makes it a more user friendly site.

You caught me. I was trying to hide the web counters. I think visible counters can be rather tacky, but they are invaluable as a tool to me to see what pages are getting the most hits. However, I have chosen to bring them much closer, but still a bit under the end of the page. Thanks for pointing out how they could be misread.

Last, you got me on the graphics. That was never my forte. I will try to work on them and make them better, while still trying to accommodate the few dial up voters that are still out there.

Your critique has helped to make us a better and more comfortable site for the target audience, the voter. Keep up the good work.


The Unicow said...


Very nice!

The site feels a bit more streamlined to me now, and it is very nice to see it evolve in the face of criticism.

The typo was of course a minor issue (I just have an eye for such things), but there's no point in a "critique" unless I have something critical to say!

As for the image issues, I just now realized that the family photo is actually a whopping 1039x744 image crammed into a 342x245 box! That's where the artifacts must be coming from. You could probably just resize the thing to 342x245 and eliminate the crazy eyes entirely (also cutting the file size). The original large image looks just fine.

Nice work, webmaster! It was still the best of the candidate sites even with my nitpicking. If it keeps improving and stays updated that's even better!


ReallyRachel said...

I've got to hand it to Tom for having such a nice, simple and user friendly website. I guess the old dog has a few new tricks in him. Good job all around, and the webmaster has tons of class.

The Unicow said...

Agreed on the webmaster having class, Rachel.

It's a welcome change from my constant troll-battles of the last few days.