Jeremy Johnson — Dallas Area UX & CX Leader
customer experience leader


Designing a local political campaign, AKA Did I mention my wife Kathleen is running for Grapevine City Council?

Vote Kathleen Thompson for Grapevine City CouncilMy wife has a strong passion for the political process, and as long as I've know her, she has worked hard help make things better. She been involved with many local campaigns, helping behind the scenes, and when an opportunity came up recently, with an out of touch incumbent going on his 6th term - she jumped into the race with both feet. So with little time - I had to quickly come up with a standard political "package"

Again, speed was a pretty big factor here, but I I've always been interested in trying out some different visual styles when it comes to the standard local political campaigns.

  • Kathleen is the only female running, and her name was obviously very different from the others, so we went with her first name.
  • Used the purple that Grapevine is known for, and actually a favorite of Kathleen's
  • Used the "talk" style logo that's popular now, but for us it meant something - the incumbent is not known for responding to citizens, and in general it's all very closed and secretive - Kathleen really wants to be a voice for the citizens of Grapevine.
  • Had a good friend shoot some great professional photos.
  • Used a hosted service to get a site going, and again because the incumbent is generally not accessible, we planned on posting the entire campaign - being fully transparent all along the way.
  • And quickly using mostly iWorks - created a series of materials that if you live in Grapevine, hopefully you've seen.

Here's some of the materials:

Vote Kathleen Thompson for Grapevine City Council Vote Kathleen Thompson for Grapevine City Council Vote Kathleen Thompson for Grapevine City Council Vote Kathleen Thompson for Grapevine City Council Vote Kathleen Thompson for Grapevine City Council

Surprisingly (or maybe not) the incumbent Roy Stewart had for all purposes, really never needed to run before (typical in Grapevine). This incumbent was also invisible to the internet besides a few yellow page listings for an old business he once had. But we've made him get online - he's launched a website (design by Ratio Software), and it looks like they just copied their main site template - I'm assuming they really don't make websites for a living), and even start a Facebook Fan Page! There have been some pretty big mishaps and "un-reported" dealings, so we put them all together in a targeted mailer - trying to bring some attention to these issues that have been reported in the local newspapers:

And there is a third challenger Deverick Jordan, a young guy whose qualifications included working for his dad, and moving to Grapevine recently (still don't know why he's running, no issues, just wanted to run). He has a internet past, MySpace, Facebook, some bad company websites that all look just like his campaign site (what is it about people using the same sites over and over again?), but now also has a Facebook Fan page for his campaign. His printed materials are interesting:

Now you can argue that it shouldn't be about the design - but the design is selling you, your ideas, and your skills. If you look like a 5th grader lobbying for a 1st place science fair, do we really want you lobbying to bring Fortune 500 into our city? And you could argue that you would hire people to do this once elected, but 1) if your materials are this bad, you're never going to get it, and 2) do you really not have the marketing sense to hire someone now, for your campaign? A large part of running a city has to do with PR and Marketing - making your community appear better than others to get business, to communicate to your citizens - and strike up a genuine conversation. These are things that local governments really need in spades - and something lacking on the current Grapevine City Council. Out of the the almost 50,000 Grapevine citizens less than 2,000 usually vote. That's not a community excited about its city government.

I hate to say it, but a designer could make some good money on the side creating ready to go political packages. Local candidates rarely have the time, money, or sense to try to create a cohesive campaign. There's even one candidate in Southlake using Comic Sans :-/

So if you live in Grapevine Texas - please checkout my wife's website, follow her, like her, but in the end - vote for Kathleen Thompson come May 14th.