Republicans Debut "V1," the New New GOP.com
BY Nancy Scola | Monday, August 9 2010
A year and a half has elapsed since the Republican National Committee, under the direction of Chair Michael Steele put out a colorful RFP for a new GOP.com so out-of-the-box that the site was taken places "the box hasn't even reached yet." Eight months have passed since RNC new media director Todd Herman took the wraps off of a beta-stamped version of a revamped GOP.com. And now, with just about three months remaining until the critical 2010 mid-term elections are to take place, Steele, Herman, and the rest of the RNC team have announced the launch of a new GOP.com. They're calling it GOP.com "V1," as in the first version of a newly wired Republican Party.
Blogging about GOP.com V1 on Friday, Herman wrote that the site's extended beta period allowed the RNC new media operations to collect a great deal of user feedback that could be used to fine-tune the site. Inspiration for that approach, wrote Hermann, came from e-commerce giants and, well, the other side of the aisle.
"You may not know this," wrote Hermann, "but on web properties like Amazon.com and Democrats.org, every action that you take tells the website something in the form of data. Thanks to Chairman Steele’s willingness to bring commercial technology process to the RNC, the data we gathered while in our beta period told us a lot -- in fact, it’s how you built the V1 (Version 1) site."
That feedback was used in particular to tweak the site's focus. While the beta version of the new GOP.com featured a tiny animated version of Steele (memorably described by Wonkette as "a hilarious dancing hobbit version" of the chairman) and highlighted networked organizing tools targeted towards state Republican parties, GOP.com V1 puts front-and-center a sort of DIY volunteering app that connects interested individuals with opportunities, online and off, to work for Republican victory.
The new RNC volunteer connector is spotlighted on the new GOP.com homepage under the banner, "Stop Obama [and] Start Volunteering."
In Steele's post announcing V1, the chair he wrote, "GOP.com V1 is here for you, and was designed to reflect what you told us you wanted to see. It's a dedicated online action center designed to give you opportunities to get involved in this fall's elections on a local, state, and national level. Here you'll find the tools you need to make a difference, and to help elect Republican candidates across the country."
While the RNC chair's face is nowhere on the homepage, rising Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor makes a landing-page appearance in the form of a featured YouTube video. In it, Cantor touts the "Young Guns" program he and other (relatively) youthful elected Republicans have launched to bring new blood, energy, and ideas into the party.
"GOP.com is your online action center for this fall's election," says Cantor in the video. "If you go to GOP.com you'll find all the tools necessary to get involved and to choose the candidates you want to get behind this fall."
Bonus: A look back at the beta version of GOP.com, as it launched in October of last year: