The 3 things British political parties learned from ecommerce

With Britain going to the polls this Thursday, all the major parties are making a last push to get your precious vote, and also hoping you’ll help them financially with a donation. Back in 2005’s election, political donations amounted to £44 million, but by 2015’s poll, donors contributed a record £100 million. With this year’s election, we’ll likely once more see this figure jump even further.

At PCA Predict, we’ve noticed something else happening in conjunction with political donations increasing. We’ve found that all the major political parties have astutely built their websites around the best practices of ecommerce retailers in order to maximise their chances politically.

If we go back to what an ecommerce user actually wants to do when they shop online, it is (i) search and find an item in a speedy manner (ii) get the best price possible and (iii) order it as conveniently as possible.

Applying this insight to General Election 2017, we see that all the major political parties (The Conservatives, Green Party, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party and UK Independence Party) have sought to satisfy the first and third of these consumer demands in their websites’ UX approaches.
They’ve done this in three key ways:

Easy navigation

As any ecommerce business now knows, you need to have a structured, yet simple website which a consumer can instantly be able to use and navigate. Failure to do so means you’ll likely lose this customer’s business, and given how competitive the ecommerce space now is, this is something that no online retailer can afford to do.

When looking at the major political parties and their websites, it is evident to see they have learned this lesson too, especially as a party’s website is likely the first point of contact for supporters or voters who are undecided. They all have a clean, clear structure, following the best UX ecommerce principles. All employ user menus that have obvious call-to-actions (CTAs) that are from roughly three to seven options and include CTAs to donate, volunteer or review a party’s content, be it video or written.


Mobile-first strategies

In 2013, 62% of the UK population had access to a smartphone, despite this, desktop sales accounted for nearly three quarters (74%) of all ecommerce transactions in the UK. In fact, tablets were actually more popular than mobile devices in that year, accounting for 15% of all transactions.

How long ago that must seem now. According to IMRG, last year the inevitable “tipping point” was reached, where sales on mobile devices finally overtook desktop.

In tandem with this trend, political parties have been quite smart in noticing how crucial a mobile ready website now is. Five out of the six parties I’ve mentioned are mobile ready. Their sites are responsive, with CTAs still placed in prominent positions and are also fast to load. Only UKIP does not have a mobile ready website. Instead, users have to pinch-to-zoom to see and navigate the party’s website. Such an approach, impacts on the overall user experience in quite a negative way and could also affect donation levels.

Simple checkout/donation processes

From our research, we know that up to eight in ten consumers (85%)  will instantly give up on an online order if they are faced with a complex or lengthy checkout form. Using this insight, political parties have, in effect, created their own “checkout process” and sought to simplify it as much as they can for potential donors.

In our assessment of these political websites, nearly every party followed the best UX principles, by offering a linear process to the exception of the Green Party. The five other parties, in their “checkout” experience integrated trackers or progress bars. This approach is essential as a customer is informed on the number of steps they are required to complete before donating and enables to limit any frustrations that may occur.


Also, two of these parties – the Conservatives and the SNP – used address verification technology to make the donation experience even quicker, by minimising the amount of manual typing required. This is because this technology identifies and fixes common errors automatically. In addition to this, it is able to tailor address search results to a user’s closest location, using what is called location biasing. By using such technology, the overall goal by these two parties is, once more, to streamline the entire donation process.


The reason why the vast majority of political parties have adopted UX principles which follow best practice are clear. With one in seven voters still unsure for whom they will vote this week, parties cannot lose potential voters due to poorly constructed websites. By following the best UX principles, they will at least give themselves a fighting chance of turning an undecided into a vote for them.