With political fever in the media building towards a 2015 general election I’ve taken a look at the present state of the four main UK political party websites (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP). 

This review and analysis is based upon website ease of use and content engagement from the perspective of a new visitor. 

So which party has the best website strategy? 

I have aimed to avoid comparing party policies and I used the following as my primary assessment criteria.*

  • Site traffic: how popular?
  • Home page: first impressions.
  • Overall content: how engaging?
  • Site navigation: ease of use.
  • Mobile: how optimised? 

1. Site popularity

According to Alexa  (on 27/06/13) the sites are ranked as follows in the United Kingdom listing of most popular websites:

  1.  Labour, 10,106
  2.  UKIP, 11,223
  3. Conservatives, 21,206
  4. Liberal Democrats, 27,195

Not matching with recent opinion polls UKIP in particular has a far higher traffic ranking than poll position. I would guess its recent political gains have made people more curious about the party.

It is nonetheless surprising to find the parties currently in government so far behind in third and fourth places. 

2. Home pages

The Liberal Democrats site starts with a splash page showing a job creation graph.

User expectations are however to see a party overview and with this missing, because of the splash screen, there is a lack of clarity whether you are on their official site, a partially broken page or a campaign microsite.

The splash page ultimately acts as a barrier to viewing the desired content.

Liberal Democrats splash page

The Conservatives home page also has some obvious problems. The main photo of George Osborne looks ‘wrong’ (I believe the image has been ‘stretched’ and therefore he looks 'wider' than he should).

There is a need to check for being on the official website as the Conservatives ‘tree’ logo doesn’t feature strongly anywhere. (The tiny ‘flag’ logo in the top left is a variation of the tree but is too small to be instantly recognised as such).

And finally, just below the 'hero' graphic, ‘Our Twitter feed is currently unavailable, please see our Twitter page for the latest post.’ Why not just link to the twitter page rather than announcing the feed is broken?

Conservatives home page

The Labour home page suffers from tiny logo syndrome but has plus points compared to competitors. The prominent inclusion of the facebook plugin (146,943 likes) and a live feed (of people signing petitions) provide a sense that this is a community engaged site. (The Conservatives site also shows Facebook likes on the home page but far less obviously).

The portrait photo of Ed Balls is horribly low res (washed out and grainy) but the page is balanced out with a decent main graphic and call to action.

What is particularly good, albeit hidden away at the bottom, are four videos. The first two of which provide a pithy insight about the party and therefore act as a solid introduction for curious new visitors.

Labour home page

UKIP’s home page is the most stylish with strong imagery (although overly optimised in places), bold colours and clear engaging headlines. All the sites ask for donations and volunteers but UKIP relegates these to a secondary position and instead focuses on upfront content that clearly lays out its proposition.

A video on the homepage gives you a chance to see and hear Nigel Farage. Unfortunately it is 45 minutes long rather than a highlight reel.

UKIP home page

Home page scores out of 10 (10 = best practice)

  1. UKIP, 8
  2. Labour, 7
  3. Conservatives, 5
  4. Liberal Democrats, 2

3. Content engagement and site navigation

Labour appears to be missing an important main section about what the party stands for and what the policies are.

It has an ‘About’ section in the footer that touches on this – but that also includes a link to a page that triggers a ‘server spoof’ warning (https://www.labourcampaignshop.org.uk/ - at least the background of that page is red!).

The site actively encourages visitors to explain ‘why they are Labour’, to donate, or to become a supporter; yet nothing prominent explains to new prospects why they should consider an allegiance.

Labour address error page

At the other end of the spectrum the Conservatives have created a policy overview page that contains far too many options. Their secondary navigation font is tiny – the links are hard to read – and there are too many choices to quickly scan.

The main content area is full of (cheesy) stock images pressed against each other. Beyond this index are content heavy pages that go into too much detail for easy web scanning – especially when you are looking for an initial overview.  

Conservatives policy index page

Conservatives inner page

The Liberal Democrats site has a similar structure to the Conservatives site but is slightly better categorised into fewer sections and is therefore marginally easier to navigate.

Inner page content is relatively succinct and uses small graphics, coloured headers and dividers to break content up into manageable chunks. The drawback is that the site design continues to make the whole experience feel somewhat dated.

Liberal Democrats inner page

UKIP’s website has the slickest main navigation and is categorised into fairly intuitive sections. Problems with content emerge as you go deeper into the site. Whilst it is easy to get to a new page the same main site banner stays in situ forcing you to scroll.

Inner pages are incredibly wordy where they should be broken into logical digestible segments (and they have the occasional broken image). 

UKIP inner page 1

UKIP inner page 2

Content and navigation scores out of 10 (10 = best practice):

  1. Liberal Democrats, 6
  2. Conservatives, 5
  3. UKIP, 5
  4. Labour, 4 

4. Mobile experience

The Liberal Democrats and Labour don’t appear to have mobile optimised sites so you get their main sites in miniature…

Liberal Democrats and Labour mobile view

UKIP’s website is responsive and visually continues to be relatively attractive on smaller screens. It suffers from the same usability issues as the desktop view (that you have to scroll to access new inner page copy and that the inner articles are content heavy).

Furthermore, primary navigation becomes a single (long) drop down menu making it less easy to engage with content options – moving around the site becomes cumbersome. 

UKIP mobile view   

The Conservatives have a .mobi site whose navigation is mixed between being too small (primary navigation) and too big (a long list of secondary navigation options in CAPS).

While it is usable as a mobile site (and is therefore better than no optimisation) it lacks finesse in terms of both design and ease of use.

Occasionally the content doesn’t quite wrap properly on the screen forcing you to scroll horizontally to see the final few characters of a sentence.

Conservatives mobile view 

Mobile scores out of 10:

  1. UKIP, 6
  2. Conservatives, 4
  3. Labour, 1
  4. Liberal Democrats, 1

To conclude

Given the amount of energy, effort and ‘fight’ that goes into political campaigning the main party websites ‘have’ to be more engaging and they need to work harder to entice new visitors and prospective voters.

UKIP aside, these sites don’t feel like they have been made with the 'new customer’ in mind. The lack of a consistent mobile presence is surprising (and worrying given that politicians play a major role in gearing Britain for the future!). 

Final scores (out of a possible 30 points)*

  1.  UKIP, 19
  2. Conservatives, 14
  3. Labour, 12
  4. Liberal Democrats, 9 

There is time before the election for improvements and these would be my starting points:

  • Lay out your stall on the home page. Engage your site visitors with what you stand for and what you’d do for them.
  • Remember that prospective voters will come to your site as well as stalwarts. Make sure you cater for both audiences.
  • Write with the web in mind.  
  • Do the basics well: e.g. properly crop and optimise images, make sure your links work.
  • Less is more.
  •  Include succinct video content and make it easy to find.
  • Get a decent mobile optimised site up and running. 
Luke Brason

Published 1 July, 2013 by Luke Brason

Luke Brason is Head of User Experience at Grass Roots and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Luke on Google Plus and LinkedIn

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Comments (11)

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Michaela Clement-Hayes, Communications Executive at FusePump Ltd

I really enjoyed this Luke. It was a good selection of websites to choose and the results are quite surprising.

Good work!

about 5 years ago



The websites ranking showed UKIP is the most interesting, dynamic and forward looking political party compared to dull LibLabCon

about 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Josh That's debatable, but the website is certainly more straightforward and less dull than the others.

about 5 years ago


Edward Tyrell

@Josh The point was just for the websites layout and presentation of content. The actual content wasn't reviewed, but in a way this summary of the sites does ring true for UKIP in real life too...

All flash/no substance

about 5 years ago


Mark Pack

I am intrigued by the use of Alexa data as whenever I have compared it with we server stats, it has been horrendously unreliable. What's your basis for judging it good enough to use? Ta.

about 5 years ago


Sanjit Chudha

Good analysis, underscores why user experience is such an important factor in ensuring success whether your are a commercial brand, political party or not-for-profit.

The one observation which could have been made but wasn't - UKIP most likely scored high because its website is relatively new with no legacy architecture or content. The more established parties will alsways suffer in a comparision like this as their sites are older.

about 5 years ago



Nicely comprehensive review.

These points did make me chuckle to myself though, whether intentional or not they are all quite accurate...

"Ed Balls is horribly low res (washed out and grainy)"

"George Osborne looks ‘wrong’"

"Labour appears to be missing an important main section about what the party stands for and what the policies are."

"Conservatives have created a policy overview page that contains far too many options."

"...these sites don’t feel like they have been made with the 'new customer’ in mind.


about 5 years ago

Luke Brason

Luke Brason, Head of Creative Solutions at Grass Roots

@ Michaela - thank you, glad you enjoyed the article.

@ Mark - I wanted to get a sense of traffic for the sites and used Alexa as it has been around for a while, is relatively widely known / used and is freely available. I am under the impression that Alexa is less accurate for sites with low traffic volumes but that enough traffic should be coming to these four sites for it to be a rough guide and benchmark.

What alternatives to Alexa would you suggest (in the absence of being able to see the actual analytics for each site)?

about 5 years ago



"Labour appears to be missing an important main section about what the party stands for and what the policies are."

this is no accident.

about 5 years ago


Mark Pack

@Luke - My experience of Alexa is that it's pretty poor even for sites of the sorts of traffic levels we're talking about for the political websites listed here. See, for example, http://www.markpack.org.uk/6399/can-you-trust-alexa-and-google-trends/ which is from a little while back but uses public data that matches what I've also seen with non-public data.

As for an alternative - I don't think even systems such as Comscore are that reliable at these levels of traffic (judging by comparing Comscore data with Google Analytics data for sites in this sort of traffic range).

The problem isn't just that the data is a bit off, in my experience, but that the Comscore or Alexa data can and does show completely different trends and relative rankings at times from the more robust server-based data.

So unless you have good evidence on which to base a different view of such measures, I fear they are worse than doing nothing at all as the picture they paint may be right, may be a bit wrong or may be completely wrong.

about 5 years ago


Dana Raymond

The Conservatives do not have a contact email or phone number. They obviously don't want you to contact them with any suggestions/ comments. Lib dem & Ukip do. Couldn't get on the Labour site.

about 5 years ago

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