Despite the rise of social media, a website can still serve as the hub of a party’s online presence. A website is typically both a persuasion tool and a recruiting office; it is a place for the party to employ text, images and videos to make its case in as compelling a way as possible. It will typically suggest avenues for potential supporters to get involved — for example, by signing petitions, joining an email list, signing up to receive party messages via SMS, following the party on social media channels or volunteering to help with party activities. A record of who has signed a petition or elected to receive other communications should link to the party’s constituent management database. A good website makes it as easy as possible for potential supporters to become actual ones, and most of the party’s online outreach should refer people back to the website to capture their enthusiasm when it is at its height.
Modern websites typically run on content management system (CMS) software packages, which support the collection, management and publishing of content on a webpage. Many CMS packages can be purchased, but parties can also take advantage of excellent open-source options such as Drupal and WordPress. One key factor to consider is ease of use, since staff and/or volunteers must be able to update the website quickly and without much training.
Parties can also create special-purpose websites around particular campaigns and initiatives, including sites that allow users to upload content or access data. For example, women’s or youth wings may want to have a separate website, distinct from the rest of the party, that promotes their policies and agenda. For instance, the Conservative Women’s Organization, the women’s wing of the Conservative party in the United Kingdom, has a website separate from that of the general Conservative Party. The website allows the women’s wing to promote its policies, fundraise and gain support, and serves as an independent platform for members of the wing to discuss issues important to them. The website includes:
- A page on standing for office, which includes links on how to become a Conservative councillor or a Conservative MP, and more;
- Information on how to get involved with the women’s wing, including a calendar of upcoming events and information about how to donate money;
- A list of policies the wing supports and research done by wing members, most of which focuses on issues important to women.