Three world-class union campaign websites (2011)

I write a lot about good campaign websites and landing pages, and I get often get asked for examples of what I mean.

This post is a showcase of four of the best union campaign websites out there at the moment. One is a campaign that I had direct involvement in, while the others encapsulate most or all of the principles that I write about.

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There For You

Organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, There For You is a campaign aimed at engaging the community about the public wages policy of the Liberal (conservative) state government which limits wage increases to below inflation. This website is the online hub of the campaign.

I had direct involvement in this campaign with VTHC campaign organiser Luke Hilikari (as I work for an affiliate of the Hall), especially in the online elements.

Why is this campaign website good?

This website ticks almost all of the boxes for good campaign website.

  1. Simple: I write a lot about the importance of good design. This website is effective because of the “underdesigned” feel. There are clear design decisions that make the message have more impact. There are no distractions (such as unnecessary side-bars, menues or other elements).
  2. Clear goals: The website’s goals are also clear and were determined from the start. The primary aim of the website is to encourage campaign supporters to sign up to support the campaign (email) and engage on social media (like on Faebook). The video is the main platform to drive engagement — you watch the video then sign up. The website will also be a returning point for future engagement points.
  3. Layered engagement: Speaking of engagement, the website promotes several engagement points: email, social media and viewing the video. The presence on the three networks (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) can be enhanced through using email to promote those networks. (Email is the “killer app” for campaigning after all.)
  4. Personal: The strong use of photos and videos is a key element to this campaign, to make the message powerful through stories. People engage better with images of people — and the video and images feature real union members.

The design for the site was done by the Reactor Group.

Not Your ATM

Wall Street - I am not your ATM - Working America

This website, created by Working America (a campaigning arm of the AFL-CIO), was set up in response to the TARP bailout of US financial instutitons in 2008. The site was a kind of “field experiment” for Working America, who held a bunch of events for members, activists and the general public to make signs and get their photos taken. The site is run using the open-source Drupal system.

Why is this campaign website good?

I’m sure you’ll agree that this campaign site meets the optical test for a good site, and like There For You, it is built around an idea.

  1. Professional design: The site was professionally designed as a single-page site aimed to promote two things. While the site is very colourful and definitely not underdesigned like There For You, the design helps accentuate the message by placing the photos front-and-centre, and also emphasising the main call to action.
  2. Strong call to action: The call to action for this site is very clear: “join the movement – upload your pic”. While I’m told this element of the site was not a runaway success, the call to action is supported by the “social proof” of the existing photos. This lowers the barrier to participation through showing that others have already uploaded their picture.
  3. Awesome functionality: The upload picture feature is a really neat (and is the main gimmick of the site), and is also enhanced because of the social-share feature allowing people to share photos on Twitter and Facebook.

The site design was done by New Signature.

Experience Matters

Experience Matters - USW campaign site

The United Steel Workers created this campaign and petition to support their locked-out members at Honeywell’s uranium processing plant in Metropolis, IL. Unlike the other two sites, it was done “in house”. The campaign site is a good example because it focuses on a primary activity for visitors to perform (sign the petition). The video explains the necessity of the petition, and there is further proof provided for the campaign itself with featured report at the bottom. I hope that the USW did some good email follow up of people who signed the petition (and that they promoted it with PPC and social ads online).

Why is this campaign website good?

  1. Clear call to action: The purpose of this page (the petition) is clear and prominent. I wonder how many people would watch the video and not sign the petition, but regardless of that, the call to action is clear.
  2. Thematic design: The design of the form and the page itself is very thematic, and compliments the key message of the video and petition.
  3. Multimedia: Just like There For You, this site has a video — and the USW also want to promote the campaign through social sharing. Secondary calls to action prompt supporters to share the campaign on social networks as well as by email. The only downside to this is that sharing the video itself does not promote the website, which could reduce the number of people who sign the petition.

This site was designed by noted digital agency Trilogy Interactive.

These three sites are not by any means the “best” or only good campaign sites for unions. There are others — and I encourage you to visit Creative Unions to see excelent examples of union websites, design and campaigns.

2 responses to “Three world-class union campaign websites (2011)”

  1. Shelley Kerber Avatar

    Alex, thanks for always providing good, practical advice for unions. I enjoy receiving your newsletter, and encourage our local unions to subscribe as well.

    We’re thinking about changing our content management system (we’ve used Sitecore for nearly four years). Do you have any advice on open source vs. proprietary systems? Complicating our decision is the fact that we allow our local unions to create their own sites through us for free (we’re a state-level educators union). With more than 400 locals, we need a system that is easy to use by volunteers.

    We did a lot of research in choosing Sitecore and Foundry for our locals, but all of our changes need to be done through a Sitecore certified developer, which has gotten quite expensive.

    If you have thoughts on choosing a CMS, we’d very much appreciate it!

    1. Alex Avatar

      Hi Shelly,

      I’ve written about CMSs here:

      In my experience, the proprietary systems struggle to match the flexibility of Software as Service offerings that integrate easily with open source CMSs. For example, volunteer management, donations, etc can be managed by services such as Sales Force or BSD Tools (BSD tools is what ran Obama’s campaign and is now generally available). There’s no need for your membership/finance/CRM to be the same program as your CMS, especially if this locks you into expensive contracts.

      The problem you’re facing is that you’ve got sunk costs with the .NET Microsoft system. It may be in your interest to find another supplier of Sitecore who is cheaper or directly hire your own developer.

      Finally, there are some other options. I mentioned BSD Tools, but there’s also a new service called which may suit your needs and would likely be much cheaper.