One of the guiding principles in putting up a website that you actually want people to come to is to make it as inviting as possible.
It seems that the Senate Democrats forgot this imperative when they introduced their new page Thursday.
“Senate Democrats have launched a Web site that will be a tremendous resource aimed to help Wisconsinites learn more about state news relevant to their communities,” said a press release from the office of Sen. Chris Larson, Senate Minority Leader.
Yet, rather than information about the Senate Democrats’ latest doings, the first thing to greet those who went to the site minutes after it was announced was a message asking for a username and password. My initial thought was that they had sent me a link to the wrong site, perhaps to some sort of secret intranet containing all of their most confidential party secrets.
But a quick click on the “cancel” button showed that the simplest explanation of the out-of-place password prompt was also the right one: It was the result of a mistake. Sure enough, a note soon came from Larson’s communications director, apologizing for the barrier inadvertently set up before what will no doubt prove to be a trove of political knowledge.
Finally on the site, I found it contained largely what I had expected: an archive of press releases, videos of various Democratic Senators holding forth on the issues of the day, and a search engine allowing visitors to track recently introduced bills.
Ah, and what was this? A gallery of photographs showing the Senators in action? Maybe this could, I thought, be a place to go to find images to run alongside articles.
But no sooner did I click on one of the site’s thumbnail pictures than appeared this warning: “Some files can harm your computer. If the file information below looks suspicious, or you do not fully trust the source, do not open the file.”
Oh lord, I thought, now I have to decide if I “fully trust” the Senate Democrats? Isn’t it enough to believe that their enlightened self-interest would suggest that putting a virus on the computer of everyone who has just been invited to their website is not the best way to win re-election?