Badnarik’s Bad-Joke Redesign

Badnarik DesignI’m simply flabbergasted. I tried to help. But now it’s too late.

This may be the first time in the history of presidential campaigns that a candidate will get more media attention over their lack of professionality than their message. I’m talking about the clowns-come-marching-in redesign that has been “premiered” at Michael Badnarik’s campaign website today. The horrible color scheme. The logo that for some reason links to The graphics made in, what, MS-Paint?!? Did I mention the color scheme? The lack of any aesthetic at all is sure to cause headaches for supporters used to well-designed campaigns. Personally, I have a lot of faith in Badnarik’s intellect and his position on the issues, but to allow his campaign to be hijacked by an amateur designer with no experience — who seems determined to steer his chances at presidency into the ground before they’ve even been cleared for lift-off — is irresponsible and flies in the face of everything he has said to this point.

To make my point clear on how much design matters, imagine someone telling you a great story, and you wanted to pass that on to friends. So he writes it down on a napkin, with a crayon. Now, imagine how your friends will react when you show them the napkin and try to explain to them how great the story was. The crayon on napkin distracts from the story, and makes them laugh at that instead of focusing on the story.

Sadly, this is not a surprise to me, as I had the opportunity to see the redesign while it was still in it’s infancy. I declined to post negatively about it and went to the campaign with my concerns, even going so far as to offer my assistance (pro bono) with the design. This was rebuffed (ignored!) in favor of the lovely Barney children’s playground scheme that you see now. To give them some credit, they did ask me to write for the blog, but there is an obvious disparity between what I was offering and the attempt to pacify me with a token volunteer position. To make matters worse, insiders tell me that they also have come to a head with the webdesigner and are fed up. As one source told me:

“Stephen [Gordon, Communications Director] and David [Rostcheck, Media Coordinator] have tried and aren’t making headway because nobody in charge (Fred [Collins, Campaign Manager] or Barb [Barbara Goushaw-Collins, Asst. Campaign Manager]) wants to get Greg [Dirasian, IT Manager/Webmaster] to shit or get off the pot…”

Could there be a rogue element inside the Badnarik campaign? If so, it may be excusable, but may be telling as well.

I will once again make a plea to the campaign, though this time it will have to be publicly, as they have no shame. Here is a list of designers that I would recommend in a heartbeat (in no particular order):

Cameron Barrett, JCS Solutions, Stop Design, Happy Cog, Evolvs
There are scores of other design firms which could do better than the current design…

I have to say that unfortunately, Badnarik does not appear to be serious about the presidency (and appearances are important in politics); Considering he’s the only candidate with “geek” qualifications (a Cobol and C programmer), it’s even more ironic that his site would be so blatantly amateur. Would Badnarik be inclined to appoint unqualified persons to cabinet positions, or would it be ironic as well? I hear Ken Lay is looking for a Treasury Dept. appointment.

Update: In the interest of actually trying to get this guy elected (God forbid, ya know?), I have created a usable redesign (200K) that I am hoping they will look at, then slap themselves in the forehead for not taking my (pro bono) suggestions in the first place.

Update 2: Gary DuVall over at Operation 9 has also thrown his hat into this with his own mockup. I think the Badnarik redesign is making a lot of designers wring their hands with the sheer lunacy of such a bad design for a campaign site. Gary has also noted that Eric Lanehart is working on a mockup. The word from the campaign on this outpouring of alternate designs? Silence so far.

Update 3: Is IT Manager Greg Dirasian incompetent? We found examples of Dirasian’s prior design work: NewsNetPipeline, Josef’s French Pastry Shop, Atlantis Condominium Associates, Institure for Health Freedom. Dirasian hosts Badnarik’s sites on his own personal servers, sources told us that it has been a constant struggle against Dirasian.

UPDATE 4: I’m only posting this because it’s already been leaked to the Yahoo! Group for Badnarik. Eric Lanehart, Gary DuVall, Michael Christenson and myself have all joined forces behind Eric’s proposal. What he’s created is a simplified redesign (which incorporate elements from both Gary’s and my own mockup and is very aesthetic) which can be accomplished by August 16th and will be a giant step in the right direction. If the Badnarik campaign management can put it’s differences aside (it appears that the proposal has been warmly greeted so far), I think we can accomplish a lot and catapult Badnarik into this campaign as a real viable alternative.

For all those who see the derisive commentary I have made above as a bad fit of whining or complaining, it is only because I believe a strong dose of criticism was warranted. I have high expectations that this minor flub will amount to nothing in the grand scheme of the campaign, and Badnarik will flourish under the coalition of support that his campaign deserves.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. Heh, it better be fixed by the end of this weekend, or I will be very unhappy as well.

  2. I saw when you posted the link to the redesign was horrified, but they appear to be blind.

    It’s quite sad. Maybe someone should found an unofficial michael badnarik site :(?

  3. At first, I thought you were being over the top when I saw your comments on Badnarik’s blog, but now I know you were right. It’s sad that Badnarik won’t take the Dean/Trippi approach to this campaign and actually do the right thing and hire out the design to one of those people you listed, they are only hrtng themselves with this kidn of junk policy.

  4. Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.

    Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

    Those who don’t build must burn.

    I think everyone thinks too small. You see one bad site and
    think yours is better. I see 5 or 6 sites that seem to be ready
    to go yet their creators all seem to be waiting for a position
    on the campaign team before they put their site up. I suggest
    everyone register a domain, get some webspace, and let
    your Freedom Flag fly. Just make sure you link back to the
    ‘official’ Badnarik site and link to The UnderBlog. If you
    need graphics, audio, video, etc. see my Badnarik archives:

    Whatever one thinks of Greg’s work he deserves out support
    and our cooperative efforts. Can you imagine how many
    e-mails he must get? How much spam the republicrats
    must launch at the domain? He’s kept the site up and it’s
    been informative. The new look – I’ll reserve my opinion.
    But as for Stephen’s screenshot of a site – Ill say it looks
    good. I havent had time to look at all the others.

    What we need is not for a dozen different webmasters to
    cook the perfect campaign website. What we need are
    hundreds and thousands of Badnarik websites springing
    up like little sparks of liberty in a dry forest. And it is a
    dry forest this election cycle, trust me.

    Why don’t all these talented web designers go to work on
    code for a Badnarik WebRing? The best design could be
    chosen and it could occupy a top spot on the official
    website. And all the Badnarik sites could have one at the
    top of their websites.

    What does anyone think about audio on the official website?
    Anybody think we need webpages with Michael talking? The
    front page? A page you could click on? Maybe an intro, and
    on another page, the latest audioblog? Just an idea. Comments?

    Eric Lanehart, and the others, propose to re-do the official
    website. Don’t wait. Put on a stamp of non-official and put
    up your site today!!!!

    I didnt get any OK or authorization to put my Badnarik Archives
    online and Ive probably served up more audio interviews, more
    videos, and more Badnarik graphics than all the people who
    are part of this proposal put together.

    Why not make 1 page of code that Greg might take and
    insert into the current site? Give him several to choose
    from. I know alot of people send suggestions, how many
    send HTML code?

    “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” — Goethe

  5. Scott,

    I appreciate your comments and support for the current design, but I must point out that the redesign is just not up to the caliber of a presidential site. Honestly, it does not even make the grade for a state rep. That said, you bring up quite a few items, but this is the problem: we have 3 months until elections, and these days the website is the core of the campaign. Everyone who wants to learn about Badnarik is going to be coming to this website, and we have to make sure it is aesthetic and easy to use. Currently, it is a usability and visual disaster. Ideally we would go the slower route and solicit ideas and do this in some formal manner to appease the campaign managers, but we have to move very quickly and cannot spend much time on such trivialities as that. We also can’t fragment as you suggest and build our own campaign sites, we need to centralize to help get the campaign message out. Maybe next election we will have our own large PAC like, but time is of the essence now and our focus is on getting this campaign on the right track.

    3 others and myself have formed an ad hoc committee and went straight to the top with an agreed upon proposal (see update 4), we are in communication with the campaign (including Badnarik himself) and I expect we will be able to pull this off quickly. I know you want to defend Greg’s design, and I appreciate that, but while he may be a great IT manager and sysadmin, his design skills are lacking, especially for a design of this magnitude. There was a lack of judgment to put this redesign out there and we are simply responding to it to fix the problem. They now have four additional people who are going to do everything in our power to make this campaign shine in more ways than just our philosophy.

  6. It’s not about any one design. Iliked the old look better. I
    agree Badnarik deserves an over the top award winning
    site and to date that hasnt happened.

    I was just saying with the resources and workload put
    upon him Greg has had a ‘not bad’ site going, got it
    going quickly, delivering some video, some audio,
    and a killer blog.

    No one site will win this election nor could even stand
    the demand if it was to get popular enough to pose a
    threat. A series of websites, linked, as described in
    my post in the comments in the Badnarik Blog

    Yes, the election is only months away and if Badnarik
    is going to have a chance his message, his viideos,
    his audio files, his position papers, etc. must spread
    like a virus. Viruses dont spread, normally, from one
    central location.

    Where are you? What state are you in? Do we run our
    government and our lives from one central government?
    I am in Georgia. 50 states, 50 Liberty Minded People,
    50 Linked websites compared to one central site. Who
    do you think will serve more Badnarik info to more people?

    But thats just it, under my design, each page has the
    main site one click away so its just like a front page. Since
    each module could be updated from the home office,
    such as a frame that displayed the most current audioblog
    or the latest picture it would multiply the power Badnarik
    would have in the search engines.

    So yes, if Michael is listening, Id say pick a best design
    with an eye for ease of use to access the information one
    might wish to spread on and go with it. And design the
    Badnarik Web Machine I describe. It all starts with the
    relatively simple Webring code that can be used to
    make a highly attractive graphic that sits at the top of
    each Badnarik related webpage.

    Just my 2 cents. When my archive goes away I hope there
    it is not the only one.

  7. The only problem with a decentralized design is the room for miscommunication and error on a grand scale, as well as supporters of other campaigns hijacking spots on the ring itself. By having a centralized site, where up-to-the-minute information can be distributed and offer a warm greeting to all visitors of all political ilk, we can point to the decentralized campaign and include the webring as a tool from which supporters can take away and use in their arsenal of promotion.

    The webring concept was big in 1997-1999, but by and large isn’t seen as a standalone way to make or break an election. It’s primetime passed with the dot-com bust. As a tool in an vast array of promotional choice, however, it has an important place for supporters to link up to one another. Keep up with the webring concept and get other supporters to use it, and we’ll keep hammering away on the main site.

  8. I think all of the proposed redesigns have a cleaner, sharper look. Badnarik’s campaign team needs to step up to the challenge of letting go of some aspects of operations, specifically design an layout. It’s been many years since I admitted to myself that I am a far better programmer than a designer and it still feels good.

    Play to your strengths, not to your weaknesses.

    Yours truly,

    …raise the fist…

  9. I agree completely that the design is not up to par, but up to this point have not said anything. Not only the design, but the code is a mess (doesn’t even come close to validation) and has not been designed with accesibility in mind, My dealings with IT portion of the campaign staff have been few, but unpleasant. I don’t appreciate that in their campaign updates they say disparaging things like a remark about how the only people complaining are so-called professional web designers and that who cares because traffic is up anyway. Of course we’re complaining!! How could we resist when it’s so very important that our candidate put on the best front possible?? There are some voters that will make their decisions based solely on that site!

  10. The root cause of this problem is that the while tthe Goushaw-Collins-Dirasian-Neale team call themselves managers, they are not. The LP really doesn’t have any experienced managers in position of authority and really doesn’t want any.
    From time to time some LP members dream of turning their Libertarian activism into a regular income source, A few manage to do this.