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Interactive Annual 15:
information design

Behind the Candidates

Launch Live Site

“A minimal site that allowed citizens to compare apples with apples and learn about the people behind Obama and McCain.” —Jay Zasa

“Surprising details and insights about the behind-the-scenes people supporting the presidential candidates of both parties.” —Amber Bezahler

Overview: This site was conceived to answer a simple question: Who exactly are the people behind our future president? is an interactive infographic site that profiles the key campaign advisers for John McCain and Barack Obama, in order to show who would presumably be key advisers, or play important roles, in each administration. The advisers are paired with their respective counterparts for side-by-side comparisons of the teams. Each adviser is introduced with a compelling quote; a single click reveals an information hub where viewers can sift through links to articles, bios and video clips for a more in-depth look.

  • • The idea of flash cards (in their old-school connotation) as a way to soak-up and prioritize information was one of the main starting points for the interface.
  • • A center scroll bar breaks away from the navigational norm with a more balanced navigation.
  • • The site’s received over 10,000 hits from nearly 100 countries.

Comments by Lindsay Ballant and Ian Boyle

Was the topic/subject of the project a new one for you? “The subject matter wasn’t new, but creating something tangible out of it online was. The press is the link between government and news coverage and ultimately shapes public opinion of our government, which, in turn, influences the public’s decisions about who to elect. We wanted to improve on that dialogue.

“We came up with the idea for Behind the Candidates over coffee one afternoon. We asked ourselves what we would most like to learn about the election that hadn’t been covered in the mainstream media. As it turned out, we were both curious about the people we’d hear briefly mentioned who were key advisers to the two candidates. In that respect, this site started out as a way to answer our own questions—and share our findings.”

How did time constraints affect your final solution? “Since we both had full-time jobs, unfortunately ‘available time in the day’ limited us. If we hadn’t been so limited by our timeframe, we would have worked in a few other sorting options and would have loved to have a ‘view all’ function whereby visitors could see thumbnails of all the advisers at once-like a team match-up.

“We would also really have liked to include more collaborative functions. It would have been amazing to let people share their own findings and build a living resource that could grow larger by the day. The content would have been more robust if users could have submitted their own links and it would've been cool to see how the library progressed as the election grew nearer.

“Due to the timeframe, we ended up tossing these things to the side, in favor of a more educational interface and maximum efficiency. After all, it was intended as an election-relevant site with a short shelf life.”


Lindsay Ballant, writer
Lindsay Ballant/Ian Boyle, creative directors
Ian Boyle, interface designer
Public Service Bureau (Brooklyn, NY), project design and development