AISkepticismVisual Art

AI: Seeing Red

With the republican primaries in the Unites States in full swing, I thought it might be a bit of fun to critique the various candidates’ web presence. After the break are screenshots of the splash pages of the top six candidates. Have a go at interpreting their intended messages.

What message are these candidates trying to send with their imagery design choices? How do they differ from each other, how are they the same? How successful are they? Where do they fail?


Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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  1. I like how Newt’s page basically hides his name really small, as if he doesn’t want you to know that you’re on his site. Like he’s embarrassed; “I’m sorry that you’re on my website…”.

    Also, his back is turned to the viewer. Hmmm…

  2. With the picture choice and the prominent placement of the name, it looks like Bachmann is trying to imply that she’s Trumps’ secretary.

  3. I think that one shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the symbology of the images. Sure they will convey something about the candidates but that’s not the point of those pages. Each of those pages are trying to get the viewer to take an action. They want you to click on the button.

    The Bachmann one is a perfect example of single page advertising trying to drive an action. It follows the classic Z path design. (pronounced zed, not zee šŸ™‚ ) The idea is that people look at the top left of a page, track horizontally from there, then diagonally down to the bottom left and then horizontally across the bottom.

    Using the Z path theory leads one to put something immediately recognizable in the upper left and the thing you want the viewer to do in the bottom right. The Bachmann page has in the upper left: her image, bottom right DONATE. They’ve also used an image of her where her eyes point to the donate button. This is another tactic used to point the viewer to what you want them to do. I’d submit the photo was chosen for that reason and no other.

  4. The Romney R is too indistinct.
    I first see MONEY.
    Intentional? I think not but dunno.

  5. The Ron Paul site is the only one that actually looks like an actual website, instead of some single-serving site. But “Paulitical”? Really? You just took that pun and “Ron” with it.

  6. @klasbo, all of the candidates had a link to click through to their actual website, but only Ron Paul allowed you to go there without first hitting a splash page.

    What does that say about him?

    Also, yellow card for poor punmanship.

  7. @Ryan: I probably deserve the yellow card. But so does Ron Paul (and not only for the pun, mind).
    Seems like Ron Paul is the only one interested in winning through his ideas, instead of charisma/douchebaggery alone. He is also the only one with a red-themed page…

    Herman Cain’s face is teal/orange split-toned. Go go hollywood!

  8. @Klasbo, I have to agree that Ron Paul is the exception to most of the rules the others seem to be following.

    @Coelecanth, It does seem like Bachman is putting more emphasis on Donald than herself. And choosing a photo of her in an acquiescent pose seems like an odd choice. Normally politicians are portrayed in very strong stances, looking outward to represent vision.

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