While the Democratic Alliance fights to catch up to the African National Congress’s overall leadership in municipal elections, it has comfortably maintained its lead in the online world.

An in-depth analysis of the Internet strategy of the main political parties in South Africa’s 2011 municipal elections reveals that the Democratic Alliance has maintained the substantial lead in online performance that it established over its rivals during the 2009 General Elections.
The ANC has improved its online presence significantly, but still comes in a distant second. The Congress of the People now lags far behind both front-runners.
The second formal website benchmarking survey of South African political parties was released today by World Wide Worx, which uses its Webagility system to evaluate and benchmark website usability and strategy of companies, organisations and institutions in South Africa and globally.
The Webagility system breaks the analysis down into several modules, including usability, social media, and content strategy. Each module contains up to 30 micro-elements, which are each assigned a score, providing a detailed measure of overall effectiveness of online presence. Webagility has been used to analyse sites for clients as diverse as major retailers, banks, bookstores, the City of Joburg, SA Revenue Services, the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants and Wits University.
“The DA site stands apart from the rest in usability, substance of content and use of social media,” says Steven Ambrose, managing director of Strategy Worx, which conducts the Webagility analyses on behalf of World Wide Worx. Ambrose heads up the Webagility team of analysts.
“However, their overall rating has dropped slightly from 2009, suggesting they have not yet fully integrated the innovations that have emerged since then in Web design. While they are more active than ever before in social media, they haven’t quite kept pace with the rapid evolution of this arena.”
The ANC, on the other hand, have improved their performance, but merely by getting better on the basics of site design.
“The ANC still does not have a clear understanding of how to engage an online audience,” says Ambrose. “As for COPE, their online presence is damaging to the party’s image, revealing that they have little understanding of the online space at all.
"Benchmarked against global best practice, the DA earns an overall 65% rating for its website, a score described in the Webagility system as 'Fair'. The ANC scores 55%, or 'adequate', while COPE comes in at 42%, or 'Workable, with potential for embarrassment'.
The sites were analysed according to three Webagility modules, namely Aesthetics & Usability; Substance & Content; and Social Media. In all three, they lagged far behind the international benchmark site included in the survey, the Democratic Party in the United States, which scored an overall 72%.