Does your ABOUT US page Stack Up?Does it succinctly describe what, where, when and how your business does what it does and for whom … in one paragraph? Does it offer bite-size chunks of information and links to additional details for those who seek it? Does it explain how your customers benefit from doing business with you, and competitively position your company against all other options?

The purpose of a website’s About Us page is to explain its value proposition to its most valued audiences. An About Us page should effectively explain the company’s purpose and what it stands for.

Most importantly, it should demonstrate exactly why the visitor should buy the company’s products or services.

When coming to an online About Us page, visitors should instantly find useful fact-based company information that:

  • Supports his/her  decision to do business with the company
  • Makes him/her feel that the company is trying to create a relationship
  • Boosts his/her perception of the company’s credibility

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Apparently not.  Jakob Nielsen reported in ’08 that while there’s been a 9% improvement in the usability of About Us information on websites over the previous 5 years, many, many companies still can’t (or choose not to) explain what they do in one paragraph.

What’s a Company to Do?

If you take a closer look at the Nielsen study, or the websites referred to by experts as usability-focused, you’ll find that many have the following elements in common:

  • The About Us link is titled as such
  • The About Us link is offered in the primary navigation – not necessarily the most prominent link, but clearly visible
  • The About us information is offered in 4 levels of detail:*
  1. Tagline on the homepage: A few words or a brief sentence summarizing what the organization does.
  2. Summary: 1-2 paragraphs at the top of the main About Us page that offer a bit more detail about the organization’s goal and main accomplishments.
  3. Fact sheet: A section following the summary that elaborates on its key points and other essential facts about the organization.
  4. Detailed information: secondary pages with more depth for people who want to learn more about the organization.

This layered content presentation forms an inverted pyramid that uses hypertext (text links) to shield users from overwhelming details, while making specific information available to those who need it.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Objective, fluff-free facts are a great way to differentiate your business, and address all of the decision-making criteria your customers and prospects consider when choosing to continue or begin doing business with your company.

Here are some ideas for an online Fact Sheet. Remember, facts are also a great way to support the fluffier promises and claims you make!

  • Number of employees
  • Size of facilities
  • Number of customers
  • Sales ($ or #)
  • Order accuracy rate
  • Safety record
  • Customer service responsiveness (e.g., calls answered within 20 seconds)
  • Customer satisfaction rate
  • Number of products available
  • Number of suppliers (worldwide)
  • Number and location of distribution facilities
  • Industry rankings / Awards
  • Shipping/delivery turnaround
  • Sales channels (online, phone, fax)
  • Specialized market expertise
  • Say It with Video

    One definite trend in About Us content is higher user interest in video. Multi-media presentations are a great way to highlight the people within your organization, your satisfied customers and their testimonies and video can really showcase the personality of your organization’s leaders. Caveat: Web users are still impatient and prefer short videos.

    A video I recently came across that fits this bill is for Uline, a shipping supply distributor. View it.

    Where to Start

    Auditing your own About Us page, section or entire website isn’t easy. An objective eye from an experienced outsider can often identify opportunities for improvement that may surprise you. Improvements may take the form of copy enhancements, page re-organization, link architecture, navigation, usability techniques or design.

    The goal for any content improvement (copy, design, organization) is of course to present your information in a more relevant manner, making the site’s content and tools more accessible and user-friendly.

    An objective 3rd party audit will lead you to site changes that will ultimately result in higher visitor usage rates and satisfaction.

    The Approach

    The way I typically go about a website audit is to:

    • Detail the current page/section/site’s contents and cite overall pros and cons
    • Research, review and reference industry trends, case studies, best practices as they relate to this type of website and the client’s objectives
    • Identify opportunities to improve current pages
    • Develop recommendations for specific improvements and changes
    • Visually illustrate recommendations where appropriate
    • Present to the client; gather feedback
    • Adjust and deliver final documentation based on the client’s feedback

    If you’re not sure your About Us page is stacking up, and you believe that it should, contact us.

    Denise B. Hearden
    Johnson Direct