Introducing Ragtag Web Squads

Y’all. I have some squad goals.

I want a squad (or two or three!) of incredible web-savvy folks interested in helping progressive candidates with simple (but good) websites.

I’ve traveled across the country the past couple of months, and talked to all sorts of folks involved in state parties, campaigns, non-profit organizations, and activist groups about ways that a Ragtag team of tech volunteers could help. These conversations covered myriad aspects of the day-to-day of these groups, but every conversation had one thing in common — a heart-wrenching lamentation about how hard it is to get a decent website for a reasonable price.

“That,” I thought to myself, “is something we can address.”

After all, there are so many free or cheap website builders out there! From Sitelio to Squarespace, Wix to Weebly to Wordpress, you can’t swing a cat gif without hitting a website builder. And that’s not even counting the political ones — NGP, BSD, NB, etc., etc.

But you know what? Things that seem super straightforward and easy-peasy for folks who spend their days elbow deep in code just aren’t so easy for folks who spend their days doing other stuff. For “millennials” or “digital natives” or “folks who like computers”, it can be fun and interesting to learn how to use a new tool or platform. For a lot of people, though, building a website is some sort of dark magic. Even with a super simple site builder, it’s just more than some folks want to take on. And you know what, that’s ok.

So how do we solve the problem? Do we make our own website builder targeted at the folks Ragtag wants to help? Do we write up super approachable how-to guides for every website builder out there? How to we lay the foundation for a long-term solution for heinous websites?

Hey those are some good questions, and we should totally look into answering them.

But in the meantime, people need help with their websites. So let’s help them.

Which brings me to the Ragtag Web Squads

Ragtag Web Squads are our approach to fixing bad websites NOW, while building the knowledge and understanding that will inform future design and development work at Ragtag.

Each Web Squad will have two to five members, and will be able to help with design, implementation, integrations (like NGP, ActBlue, Action Network, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), technical support, and the basics of content strategy. Different Web Squads may have different expertise, like Squarespace, Wordpress, Drupal, etc., so we’ll be able to help folks using a wide range of platforms.

Ragtag Web Squads will be able to help folks who don’t have a website at all create one, link it to the other tools they’re using for their campaign, and create a plan for useful and engaging website content. Web Squads will also be able to help folks who have a website that’s just not quite right transform it into something that they can be proud of.

Heck yeah! How can I help?

You can help by doing, and by giving to help others do.

We are looking for more volunteers who would like to be on a Ragtag Web Squad. Do you know how to make a website with Squarespace, Wordpress, NGP, Wix, Weebly, etc., ad infinitum? Are you interested in learning? Do you have opinions (and taste) about the visuals of political websites? Does the content of most political websites make you cringe? Would you like to change that? Yes? Then it sounds like you should sign up for Ragtag and join our Web Squads project! (If you’re already a member, just jump in the Web Squads Slack channel.)

Do you think this is a really cool idea, but you just don’t have the time? Throw us some cash to help Ragtag pay for infrastructure and organizing. Better yet, become a sustaining supporter of the work we do.


Epilogue

If you are thinking “This is all well and good, but how does it actually solve the problem. Isn’t this going to be an epic game of whack-a-mole?”, you’re not wrong. Sending in a Web Squad to fix or improve every not-so-great website we come across is not going to be a long-term solution. But it is for sure a great learning experience! Ragtag’s UX volunteers will be working with the Web Squads to discover more about the underlying issues in the world of politician websites. We’ll learn more about the pain-points, learn more about what works, and learn more about who the users of these tools are, and what they’re trying to get out of using them.

As the 2017 election season wraps up, Ragtag will start synthesizing all of this information, and forming a plan for how to tackle websites for the 2018 cycle. Maybe we’ll make a new tool. Maybe we’ll make a how-to guide. Maybe we’ll do something totally different. Whatever it is we do, it will be driven not by a hunch about what users probably want, or by what the engineers think sounds most fun to hack on. Instead, our design and development will be driven by real appreciation and understanding of the problem we’d like to solve, and the folks we’d like to solve it for.

Want to work on UX at Ragtag? Join!