Lord Nelson’s got a boat.

The local Mayoral elections will soon be with us (well today, I wrote this a while ago), but who to vote for? I have no idea who the candidates are, what political parties they represent or their policies, so over a cup of coffee and some hot crumpets, I thought I’d sit down and read the brochure pushed through my door.

After a quick look, I did begin to wonder how many of their key policies they could achieve on a local level, so I thought, I’m going about this the wrong way, forget their policies, vote on their pitch, design and photography, so here’s a quick run-down of my thoughts.

Conservatives: They have obviously not decided to employ a professional photographer, the photos (2) look drab and uninspiring, the main image shot on a damp depressing day overlooking Meadowhall. While the first page has a blue background it is not a blue I associate with the conservatives so it took me a while to work out who this guy represented. The typeface compared to the other candidates is more modern but in a far smaller font, text heavy and dense, it says to me we want to look modern but we’re hoping you won’t read all of this. Uninspiring and ultimately out-dated from start to finish.

Liberal Democrats: The only party to fork out for a decent photographer and by the look of it, a designer as well. Will they blow the whole South Yorkshire budget on creatives? I do hope so. It was instantly obvious who this candidate was standing for, the orange picking out key aspects of their manifesto. The images (4) were shot in different locations to reflect the whole area, the typeface however was uninspiring and the font size a little large for my liking but overall it worked well.

Yorkshire Party: This was a bit of a mess. I had no idea of who or what this candidate is standing for. The logo is hideous, text all over the place, a mix of capitals and lower case, various font sizes and colours. Photography was pretty mediocre, the images (3) average at best but far better than the conservatives.

South Yorkshire Save Our NHS: This candidate has only one real goal, the NHS although a few extra policies were tagged on to the end. Layout cluttered, no white space to make it easy to read, every button on the Word formatting ribbon has been employed, underline, bold, italic, combinations of all three, lower case, capitals, random colours. Aesthetically this one’s not for me. Only 2 small images of the candidate were squeezed on to the page.

English Democrats: Firstly there is only one small image, this is of the candidate and they are not even looking in to the camera which gives a shifty first impression. It looks to have been shot by someone who owns a camera but doesn’t know how to use it. The shadow, behind the character indicates that the pop-up flash was employed. Colours, Red, White and Black, I wonder what other political parties have used those colours? Personal statement in an off-white box with drop shadow looks a little dated but overall the layout is clear, if uninspiring.

Green Party: Wow, this says the green party. It’s Green. The only image is of the candidate, back lit, so that the face is very dark, not the sort of friendly caring portrait I’d expect. A condensed typeface used for headings with a bold sans serif for the body copy looks authoritarian. No line breaks between paragraphs which annoyed me. While the overall colour scheme screams green the logos for their social media channels are the colour variants which look odd and ill-defined on the page.

Labour: I had to look through the booklet a few times, thinking that there wasn’t a Labour candidate until I finally found it. Plenty of images (7), most showing the candidate out and about meeting people and a large cut-out portrait of the candidate. The use of colour and mix of typefaces made it unclear which party this candidate is standing for. The use of a script typeface for the personal message is out-dated. Overall, a little confusing.

I was disappointed, only one candidate seemingly to understand the importance of constructing well designed information to communicate to their audience. At least none used the old cliché of Comic Sans.

Who am I going to vote for? I’m still undecided, looking at their promotional material and reading the layout and imagery as well as the text can give you a better understanding of their personality and motivations.

If I had to vote just on the design in the Mayoral elections there would be one clear winner. I know there is more to it and that, but for many people the first impression is the only impression. Hire a decent photographer, a decent designer, let the creatives do what they are best at. Don’t design by committee.   

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