Hillary Clinton’s old website

On Sunday, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced she would definitely like to be the next President of the United States of America. Before that announcement HillaryClinton.com looked like this: a holding page linking to the website of her official office.

HillaryClinton.com on 27th March 2015, retrieved from archive.org
HillaryClinton.com on 27th March 2015, retrieved from archive.org

Blue, a notoriously popular colour in web design, seems deployed here according to colour theory:always reassuringly safe, friendly and almost frivolous when light, while the darker blue brings a more serious tone. The background gradient gives an abstract sense of a horizon; the ground and the sky; don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. We’re meant to be reassured. The contrasting darker blue used for the ‘Hillary’ headline – really a logo – fits it quite well: we’re on first name terms with Mrs Clinton, but we’re still encouraged to take her name seriously as a strong and powerful proposition. The colour contrast emphasises the seriousness of ‘Hillary’ as a concept. We’re meant to be impressed.
The gradient is deployed as a background image rather than modern css: old-fashioned but fine for a lightweight single page site. There’s a technical fail, however, whereby the bottom curve of the ‘y’ descender in the logo (also deployed as an image) has been truncated by over-zealous cropping. This could have been avoided with modern web typography – or a steadier hand.

But never mind because the typography itself is interesting. The font used, Garamond, has a fascinating history dating from the mid-16th Century, and categorised as Garalde (or Old Style), referring to a family of fonts that succeeded the Humanist fonts of the early Renaissance. Like them, the Garalde style was inspired by the hand calligraphy of the pre-Gutenberg scribes, but moved away from the Humanist’s mimetic approach of trying to mimic handwriting, towards a new style informed by the technology of typeset print. The fonts then represent the spirit of the dawn of the industrial printing revolution, Garamond being arguably the classic of the type. It is perhaps a little too traditional and staid here, and it is usually considered much better in print than on screen, but it certainly seems appropriate for a senior American politician, since the emergent technology of mass produced documents played an important role in the revolutionary birth of that nation. To modern eyes Garamond looks old-fashioned, yet nevertheless triggers a deep association with dramatic change, with a sense of continuity even in the midst of it. You can see why a mainstream politician might like it.
Technically the font’s served in its websafe form of ‘Garamond’, but if not available the site helpfully falls back to EB Garamond, served as a google web font, and that is what you see on the screenshot. If neither will do there is a final fallback of, of course, Georgia, the original websafe serif of choice.

Content-wise we have a big thank-you and a call to action. The small print (in Arial), aside from linking to a privacy policy (like the main CTA, the link is in non-threatening light blue), lets us know the site is ‘Paid for by Friends of Hillary‘. Interestingly this info-nugget is rendered according to the ghost button pattern, one of last year’s noted web design trends. But, it isn’t a button, leading to potential wasted taps, clicks or hovers.

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