The verdict is in.
And it was virtually unanimous. PRWeb, one of the largest distributors of press releases on the web, needs to go to work on their home page.
Each expert critiqued the PR Web home page independently and virtually all of them gave it a “thumbs down.”
Take a look and add your own critique in the comments section.
Click image to enlarge:
The body of this home page is designed for two audiences: Existing customers and people who like to read random news items. I will assume that PR Web also wants to appeal to prospective users of the service (though there is little evidence of that).
They have good navigation choices for prospects, especially since prospects are going to find the body of the home page less than helpful.
The page assumes the visitor knows what PRWeb is. Key value proposition is missing. “More” is not relevant to non-users.
The primary call to action “Read More” is almost invisible in this treatment. Certainly there is a stronger call to action than “Read More”
The social proof could be big, but it is invisible blue on blue, and the description of the number is murky. What they want to say is “2,750,205 PRWeb headlines viewed. Is yours one of them?”
I don’t understand the value of having random news items on this page. If this is supposed to be a news destination, then the page needs a completely different focus.
~Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences
The slide that shows here would be great for a returning visitor. So, this might work well for someone who was considering their service and came back. The “more…more…more…more!” might entice them to “read more”.
However, I don’t believe this would work well for a new visitor. If this is your first time visiting, you can’t really see anywhere upfront what it is that they offer and why it makes them different. It’s also oriented toward them and not the visitor. Why do we care that it got better if we don’t know how it was before?
The latest news section is decent though. They did a great job of adding social proof through the number on the right. The text perhaps needs to be a little shorter and more direct there. Perhaps just “2,750,205 headlines seen each day”.
Overall, I think this is a clean and easy to understand layout and the design is well-put together and aesthetically pleasing. It just needs a little work on the messaging.
~ Naomi Niles, ShiftFWD
The headline needs work. Great example of look at me. We are great. Even though that wasn’t there intention. They should tell you the benefits for the prospect behind them getting better. The list of “More” makes me shrug. Since I am their target market, that’s a shame.
I will say the number of times PR releases are seen is pretty interesting. But I don’t really know what it means and it comes off as a self-serving badge. Like a real estate agent saying “I sold 100 houses last year! Look at me!”
What’s in it for me?
PRWeb should really flip that little number to demonstrate how their releases get exposure for customers like, and I’m just making this up, “My press release got picked up by NY Times, WSJ and CNN. My phone is ringing off the hook.”
Testimonials, in other words.
~ Demian Farnworth, The Copybot
That said, if I landed on their home page without knowing much about them or their reputation, it’s not immediately clear to me who they are and what they do. It took me a minute or so of looking at the home page to notice the little area in the middle-left side of the screen that highlights that 2,750,205 of their press release headlines are seen each day. That’s starting to give a clue of what they do, but doesn’t truly convey the benefits of their services or answer the question on prospects’ minds…”What’s in it for me?”
I also question having the “Latest From the News Center” section featured so high on the home page. While I can see it serving some form of social proof by showing off a sampling of the companies that use their service, I think that “above the fold” space can be used more effectively to focus on what PRWeb does and the benefits of using PRWeb.
~ Adam Kreitman, Words That Click
However, I don’t know what PRWeb is pitching on this page. Is it a social media analytics tool, a usability tool, an assistive technology?
I don’t know, and although I’m compelled to click further and ‘read more’, I still want to be armed with some insight so I can can make sense of why I’m visiting the site.
~Sofia Woods, Shortie Designs
PR Web is telling the viewer that they’re better… More social, local, financial and visible, but they’re not showing the viewer or demonstrating these changes in any way. I’m also not sure what being more financial means, but maybe I’m just not familiar enough with their offerings.
I like the idea of a person holding the sign with the message because it could make it more personal and approachable, but I don’t think the placement works as it is now. As a general rule, its best not to cut off limbs in the cropping process – or any process. The overall design of the site is nice, but this main image and content could use refining.
~ Angela Jones, Design By Ange.la
I might consider changing “More financial”, as I think that’s less clear than the other three listed benefits. Also suggest changing that font; it falls between being genuinely handwritten (and therefore personal) and a more generic “casual typeface” style that doesn’t work so well.
~ Robin Cannon, Shiny Toy Robots
I wonder why they thought they had to be better. Is it because the competition is better? If so, then perhaps I should take a second, closer look at their competitors. I’ll click my browser’s back button, and maybe I’ll return later. Maybe I won’t…
Conversion Tip: Your most critical user goal should occupy the first position in your slider. That’s the only slide that counts.
~ Tyler Kelley, Conversion Coach
The PR Web homepage is appealing, but doesn’t immediately do a great job explaining what it is the press release service actually does. In fact, the only place that the words “press release” show up together above the fold on the homepage is in the little white text beside the number of times a press release headline is seen daily.
While aesthetically pleasing, the homepage would be far stronger if it clearly and immediately told a visitor what the company does. Most visitors don’t hunt for the info they’re looking for. They leave. It’s important to make crucial information immediately accessible and stand out visually.
~ David Hartstein, Wired Impact
I’d give them a 6/10 on this one. The combination of the header and their news releases confuses me. I’m a big advocate of the “One Page, One Goal” idea, and so I would cut the releases by people who use their service and replace it with more details on the benefits of using PRweb. If they really wanted to include a ‘Look who uses PRweb’ section, I’d make it image based and be sure not to link it to those other companies (don’t distract your readers!).
Also, the call to action is a bit weak. They’re sending people to the news center to look at other press releases, instead of giving them something that can benefit the customer and show off PRweb, like a free downloadable release template, or a guide to writing releases or a 7-day free trial. There are more efficient ways to streamline their tour of PRweb and control the customer’s journey through their services towards the desired outcome (more customers).
~ Erynn Brook, Urban Avalon
My biggest complaint with the page is that PRWeb isn’t conveying benefits to the user. Instead, they’re talking about themselves. Customers don’t care if you just got better—they care about what you can do for them and their business. I think the headline and picture copy could do a better job of conveying specific benefits to customers.
~ Joseph Putnam, 5 North Marketing
The menu up top is also very clear and looks very easy to navigate.
The area below the “Latest From the News Center” seems a little boring with not much happening in the way of colours or images.
Having two image sliders on the same page (one in the center and one down the bottom) might be a little disorienting, depending on whether they both scroll and in what direction. (the same or opposite directions).
~ Sanj Sahayam, Unique Imprints
Instead of saying simply “PR web just got better!” (as a new user to the service, why should I care about that?) I would recommend they have an actual benefit in that text, such as “Get MORE from Your Press Release!” which ties right into more social/local/etc…
Also, the counter doesn’t do much to bolster my confidence in the service. It’s great that headlines are seen. But what about press releases that develop into news stories? How many of those can they claim? I’d much rather read about success stories other companies have had.
We would love for you to weigh in with your comments. What is Startup Weekend doing well or not so well with this home page?