Recipe 6.1. Explaining Who's Responsible for Your Site
You need to make sure that your site visitors understand who you are, how to contact you, and how the information that is exchanged over your site is created and managed.
Be ready with answers to visitors' questions about your web site by creating the following components:
Web surfers will visit your site seeking specific information. Sometimes their questions pertain to the area of expertise espoused on your site. At other times they want to know more about the site itself and the enterprise or individual who runs it. Making this type of information clear and easy to find will greatly improve how visitors perceive your site.
First, list your complete contact information on a "Contact Us" or "About Us" page. A contact form works great for quickly delivering messages from web site viewers to the appropriate staff person, but some visitors will want to know how to contact you by mail, phone, and fax. Don't hold this information back just because you think the email form serves as an adequate substituteit doesn't.
Also, double-check that your site provides a way for visitors who eschew email forms to contact you by email. Even if you don't list it anywhere on your site, some people will try sending email to email@example.com. Your webhosting account may be set up to forward every email sent to your domain to a default address if the actual address does not exist. If that's the case, make sure that emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org get through to someone who will read them regularly. Or, just go ahead and set up a mailbox or forwarding alias for webmaster and designate someone to read and respond to them. You may, however, find it impossible to respond personally to every email sent to the webmaster. In that case, set up an auto-responder that confirms the receipt of the email, lists your full contact information, and answers other common questions about your site.
Many visitors will attempt to contact you after encountering a problem with your site (see Recipe 9.1). For more information about SSL protocol and digital certificates, see Recipe 8.5.
The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (http://www.w3.org/P3P) is an effort by the W3C to standardize, simplify, and automate the way web sites notify their visitors about what they do with their personal information.