Small business, your website sucks. And I'll give you five reasons why.
I usually link to examples of what I'm talking about, but so as not to embarrass any particular small business, this time I'm just going to say...you know who you are out there.
1. Your contact information is not visible on your home page. I wish I had a dime for every small business site I've visited where I not only could not see a phone number or address on the home page--where it belongs--but I could not even see an obvious "contact us" tab. I know--you're trying to seem cosmopolitan, global, mysterious, you're everywhere...or that's what you think this is accomplishing. But it's really just making you look amateurish.
I want to know what city you are based in, and I want to know right away. I need to know what time zone you're in so I know if now's a good time to call you. Or I have a story where I need sources from various parts of the country, and I want to know if you're in one the places I need. But I can't find out. Do you have a business death wish, that you're making it hard for people to get in touch?
Ideally, your contact info, or at worst contact link, should be visible right at the top of your web page, without my even having to scroll down. As opposed to being in Times Roman eight-point at the bottom of your home page, in pale gray type, as it seems to be on so many of the small business sites that do manage to get their contact info onto the home page at all.
Fixing this would help customers as well as reporters, hmmm?
2. You only offer me a fill-in email form. I have a bulletin for everybody who's got these e-mail forms on their contact page: Nobody wants to fill them out. They feel anonymous and weird--I don't know who, if anyone, will be getting this message. I'd love to see stats for the percentage of people who bail on your site after being confronted with one of those forms. If you are in love with your form because it captures data straight into your CRM system for you, or whatever other reason you might have, then at least list your email and give me the option of clicking a link.
3. You have no phone number. That's right, your contact page doesn't have an address, and it often doesn't have a phone number, either. Just that fill-in form. More of the awe and mystery of your pseudo-globalness, or so you think. Reality: This makes me think your company is likely two guys (or girls) sharing a laptop in one of their bedrooms.
4. Your 'About Us' page doesn't tell when your company was founded, or by whom. This is an epidemic lately. About us pages sound like this now: "Faux Global is dedicated to giving customers the most amazing widget possible." Paragraphs and paragraphs of vague junk like that. The company might have been founded by a former child star and have $90 million in sales, but I'll never know.
Reporters are looking for great stories to tell. This is the page where I'm hoping to learn about your story--who's behind this and how they got this puppy off the ground.
5. Your 'News' or 'Press' page has no media contacts. That's right--you've got a page of press releases, a page of clips from media you've been in, but nowhere does it say who I should contact if I want to talk to you. Combine this one with no phone number and that email form, and odds are, if I'm on any kind of deadline, we're not going to connect in time to include you in my story.
At some point, a reporter will probably look at your website. Will they find your story there, and find it easy to get in touch?