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The 2016 Committee

A political super PAC supporting candidate Dr. Ben Carson in the 2016 presidential election.

Mosaic of screenshot of 2016 Commitee website

The 2016 Committee is a political super PAC that supports presidential candidate Ben Carson. The Committee is made of more than 30,000 grassroots citizen activists across the country and was initially founded to persuade Dr. Carson to run for president. After his candidacy was secured, their purpose shifted to laying the groundwork necessary to secure his nomination and ultimately elect him as president in 2016.

The Challenge

We were approached to redesign The 2016 Committee’s existing site to better align with its organizational mission and goals, and better reflect its core identity as a grassroots organization. The site needed to be used for various purposes: information about the candidate, donation, endorsement and, most importantly, as an organizational tool for a large number of volunteers. In addition, the redesign needed to be executed on very tight deadline in the midst of an active election cycle. Our challenge was twofold: quickly redesign the public-facing site as well as the volunteer back-end content, and do it seamlessly enough as not to be disruptive to existing users.

Our Solution

When redesigning this site, our efforts centered around four key areas. First, we realigned the site to position The 2016 Committee as a grassroots movement focused on engaging, mobilizing and equipping volunteers. Second, we needed to educate first-time visitors, which accounted for 80% of all traffic. Through a simple and intuitive user experience (UX), we quickly and succinctly answer the questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why. Third, we engaged users and inspired them to action. We created multiple points of engagement throughout the site that propel users to further action. Fourth, we instilled a sense of community. Visitors should feel like they’re part of a growing movement, something exciting and significant.

Collage of images from The 2016 Committee Website

UX Choices:
Creative Navigation

With nearly 30 choices on the site’s existing menu, we knew that a traditional navigation bar or hamburger icon simply wasn’t going to work. Instead, we chose to highlight five pages with the highest priority (Meet Ben, Events, Volunteer, Contribute and Join/Sign In) and include a “More…” link in the navigation. When a user clicks here, a complete menu appears, which is delineated by color and easily closed. This simple, best-of-both-worlds solution allows us to prioritize key pages without making any navigation item, regardless of importance, difficult to find.

Navigation in disabled and active state on 2016 committee site

Thoughtful User Education

We used a similar approach for distinguishing user types on the homepage. Either a visitor is brand-new, with presumably little-to-no knowledge of Ben Carson or The 2016 Committee, or a seasoned volunteer already familiar with the organization’s goals and activities. First-time visitors are presented a simple, succinct statement of who the Committee is and what they do. By clicking the large "Learn More" button, key content about Dr. Carson and the Committee appears, addressing the questions “Who is Dr. Ben Carson?”, “Who Is the 2016 Committee?” and “What Do We Do?”. This content is hidden from logged-in users, who are instead presented timely featured content and news.

Screen shot of "Learn more" section on homepage
Nation builder backend

Executing on Nation Builder

The 2016 Committee site is built in NationBuilder (a leading campaign CRM tool). Our team created a custom NationBuilder theme from scratch, so as to support Nation Builder's 30+ page types. Now the Committee's volunteer team can continue to develop the site using all the tools available within the Nation Builder platform. In this way, we were able to implement a complete site overhaul in the midst of an election cycle without disrupting existing supporter activity.

Points of Engagement:
Laying Out a Clear Path

The former site had plenty of actions (e.g. volunteer, endorse, donate) requested of the user, but these calls to action were scattered throughout the site without much of a clear strategy. With volunteer mobilization a top priority, we determined that guiding visitors through specific actions in a cogent manner was critical.

We achieved this in two ways. First, we laid out an engagement path through a series of emails a visitor receives once he joins the Committee. Thank you emails identify logical next steps to take—invite friends to join, endorse Dr. Carson as a candidate,and donate&msdash;which lead a user back to the site and prompt further engagement. We used a similar approach in the supporter HQ section of the site by using visual “action tiles” that give users a visual representation of the tasks they’ve completed and gently nudges them to finish the ones they haven’t.

Sketch of engagement path

“We turned to Pinkston Digital with tight timelines and complicated logistics. After listening to our vision and goals, they nailed it! Very creative and the transition from the old site to the new site went smoothly. And get this: all timelines were met. The Pinkston team is professional and conscientious. What could have been a nightmare was a dream!”

Tammy Cali, President & CEO, Eberle Communications Group

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