Web Sites of World Leaders Compared

A recent visit to the White House web site led me to wonder what the web sites of other world leaders looked like.

Were they valued as a key way to communicate with the electorate or treated as more of a dumping ground for manifestos? Did they follow any good design principles and have any aesthetic qualities? I was keen to find out.

Here's a collection of 20 or so sites I looked at. Click on the image to view the web site.

Don't miss: Kazakhstan's crazy Flash masthead and President Ahmadinejad's blog.

Australia

Australia

Not a badly designed site, although a little heavy on the blue. The color palette could do with brightening up — say, a little accent red from the colors of the national flag?

I love the the "welcome to my site" section on the right sidebar (although for all the wrong reasons). It reads like something you'd find on a Geocities page:

Welcome to my site. Here you will find information on different aspects of…

Did anyone actually read this content (out loud)? Surely there is something more important than this to put in such a prominent position on the home page?

Brazil

Brazil

This site appears well laid out, although the promo boxes on the right look like ads so I'd imagine that they are largely ignored. Because of the color scheme (and the World Cup) it is instantly recognizable as being related to Brazil, so they must have their branding right.

China

China

I tried to find the Chinese version of this site, but couldn't. A particularly uninspiring and static site with not a hint of news or anything approaching current affairs. It also reminds me of one of the first sites I ever built (yikes).

France

France

A functional and largely uninspiring site. I wonder what the purpose is of the red right hand borders on the navigation? It certainly calls attention to these links, although whether it's intentional or not is hard to say.

Germany

Germany

It certainly has a very minimalist logo (I wonder how much that cost to develop). The site's design is clean, if rather bland and a bit heavy on the beige.

India

India

My oh my, where to start? What is up with that color palette — you can use any color you like as long as it's some shade of brown or orange? Clearly, this site has not had a redesign since it was originally launched back in the early days of the internet.

Indonesia

Indonesia

Given that my standards have been dropping as I've been reviewing the above sites, this one doesn't look too bad (did I really just say that?) And judging from the banner, President Yudhoyono lives in a really big palace.

Iran

Iran

It's interesting to see a site designed to be read from right-to-left. However, aside from the elegant Iranian script, there is little to recommend from a design standpoint. I'm not sure what the flowery motif in the banner is supposed to convey, but it looks like a bunch of dolphins playing.

On the bright side, President Ahmadinejad has a blog, which is available in English (to frequently amusing grammatical effect). However, credit where it's due — what other leader is communicating in such a personal way, and even allows you to post comments?

Japan

Japan

Visually this site is a mess, with no overall sense of cohesion. It's hard to believe that this site represents the leadership of such a globally important nation.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

The hidden gem in the sites I looked at. Seems like nothing special from the screenshot and was most likely designed by the president's nephew who happens to do a bit of web design on the side.

However, if you click through to the site and wait a moment for it to load, you will see that banner animate in all its glory — with waving flag and clouds rolling across the sky. Classic stuff, if a little disconcerting for some reason.

Korea

Finally, a modern-looking site. The layout is well-proportioned and clear although the color scheme is a little muted.

Malaysia

Malaysia

Yet another sad example of nepotism in government. Just how many world leaders have nephews moonlighting as web designers? Surely the Office of the Prime Minister could have sprung for a real agency to design the site?

What's particularly bad is that due to the long left sidebar, most of the main content area is empty, making it look like there's nothing going on as far as the prime minister is concerned. Not a great first impression.

Mexico

Mexico

Nice site — bold colors; good composition. Enough said.

Pakistan

Pakistan

What does this home page tell you? Clearly, this site is about the holder rather than the office of the presidency.

Philippines

Philippines

The consumer electronics section, over on the left, seems a little out of place. Icons probably would have worked better.

I don't see why the main navigation requires some explanatory text as it doesn't tell you anything useful. "Newsroom" — "Latest news from the Office of the President." You don't say?

Russia

Russia

A cleanly designed, content rich site, although it feels somewhat disorganized and could do with a stronger adherence to a grid layout.

South Africa

South Africa

A well designed and laid out site, with the exception of the unnecessary welcome message. The right side bar seems a little weak with links to mystery PDF documents.

Spain

Spain

Not bad, but the content is crying out for some paragraphs and some better spacing. Why go to all this trouble to develop a site and then not organize the content so that it can be read easily?

The empty gray header seems like a missed opportunity to utilize this valuable real estate — maybe some Google Ads?

UK

UK

I like this site. It's straight forward, utilitarian and content-rich. I'm not a huge fan of the color-scheme — some of the colors seem a little too 'muddy'.

However, this looks like a site that would have answers to my questions and would be worth exploring.

USA

USA

The font is tiny on my 1920×1200 resolution monitor, but I guess I'm the exception.

I'm not sure why the left nav is so wide; however, overall it looks like a pretty good site — maybe a little fussy in terms of visual design, but clearly full of content, well laid-out and easy to navigate.

Parting Thoughts

As I looked through the sites, it was interesting to see that two camps emerged — those that had a photo of the current incumbent splashed across the home page and those that did not.

I assume that those that did not were trying to convey that the office of the president, prime minister, etc is bigger than any one person. However, it does seem a little odd in some cases (Brazil) to not even include a single image of the leader of the country.

Posted on: August 7, 2007 | 11 Comments

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11 Comments Posted

Im assuming this is a follow on from your state website theme.

I kinder wished that Australia was a little better but no...
Wonder how the idiots are who design these Australian websites :(

btw just for the record, I like and thanks :)

BTW, foreign fonts display just fine on a Mac when you're browsing the web since Macs come ready to go with fonts for nearly every language. Looks like your PC can't do International fonts.

I thought our Croatian president has bad website but now I see It's one the best http://www.predsjednik.hr/ ...

Heh, this was good. As your northern neighbour I feel it's my duty to share with you the mess that is our Prime Minister's site:
http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/default.asp

Could there be any more photos of our leader on his page? Yikes. And to set the record straight, I sure didn't vote for him :-)

Bob — I updated those images with the correct fonts added. I just didn't want to download the multi-megabyte language packs before, but then I thought why not.

3kolone — apart from the scary-looking photo, it's a pretty nice site!

Slovakia: http://www.prezident.sk/

Czech: http://www.hrad.cz/

Hi:
Your comments are spot on as far as the UI is concerned. I would have appreciated your observations on the site content and other factors of presidential/leader websites. For ex: do you know that the PM of India is an Oxford graduate, the Financel Minister is from Harvard and the President of India was a Phd in space/nuclear engineering ?
Just my 2c...

Regards

About what you said about flowers placed on the left top side of Iraninan president website:

Those flowers show Iranian culture.
Those are traditional signs that say you this is Iranian.

Thank you

Zee Log — I'd love to be able to take the time to investigate the content of the sites further. However, this just isn't practical for more than a few sites.

I did notice that the Philippines site has a user forum, which surprised me!

AMIB — thanks for the clarification. Shows how ignorant I am about other cultures.

Great analysis, you get the correct results, and very simple, but not effective in most cases, cheers!!

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