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Why I Don’t Care About You: Common Errors With About Us Pages

Graeme Benge

by Graeme Benge on 11th April 2013

bigstock-about-us-icon-30297905A well-crafted About Us page can be the difference between a website that resonates with its audience and one that misses the mark completely.

In this post I suggest some best practices and also show some examples of About Us pages that hit the mark.

It’s not all about you

It’s become the default setting for any site owner to publish amongst others the following pages almost on autopilot:

  • Home Page
  • Contact Us Page
  • About Us Page

The Home page will have had 80% of the time and effort spent on it. As a visitor you’ll likely be welcomed with a mixture of key selling points, branding and a focus on product or service details.

The Contact Us page will be a business card of sorts: phone numbers, email address and physical address.

And then the About Us page will give you the potted history of the company that reads like a watered down press release and….and not too much else. To me this is a missed opportunity. An About Us page offers a unique opportunity to really zero in on several key elements that will establish your site with that user. The page is likely to be viewed by the type of qualified traffic you want hitting your product pages as prospective customers or those who are looking for a more rounded impression of your company prior to committing.

Your About Us page is not a Home page or a product page. Nor is it a Shopping basket. It deserves its own identity but you needn’t think you need to reinvent the wheel. Instead focus on inspiring trust. These are the three areas I would recommend considering when putting an About Us page together:

  • Build rapport
  • Demonstrate your benefit
  • Create trust signals

Voice

It can be frustrating to see a company fall into the trap of assuming the “voice” expected of a particular industry. You know the one, like Alan Partridge but without the irony.

“Fertilizer Inc. has been providing excellent customer service, innovative solutions and amazing results for 123.585 years….”

Nobody claims to provide mediocre anything so this approach is a bit bland. If I had my way this might have looked better as;

“Since landing on Earth, Fertilizer Inc. set about reverse engineering the fertilizer industry with a series of well received Victoria sponges…”

Maybe that might miss the mark. Irreverence shouldn’t be written off though. The familiar cry of “no one is really interested in fertiliser” is the type of self-defeating attitude that will be the end of a fertiliser production company’s presence on line. A great About Us page means your site will be infinitely more interesting and more likely to be shared than it is currently.

Fun is not the only angle to take. Turn things on its head. If you handed this page over to your customer base, what would your customers say about you? Lead in with that. Testimonials despite being clearly easy to manipulate, show that you are involved with other customers, that you have on-going relationships and that they are happy to share the good work you’ve supplied them. This then plants the seed that a prospect too could enjoy the benefits of your service.

Meet the family

There is no better way of putting across the human side of an organisation than by introducing what is at the heart of most – the staff. Presenting the face starts to undo some of the invisible barriers. I like the About page of The Verge a tech/culture news site.

the verge - about

A quality photo is followed by typical bio type fluff but the page gives almost everyone a credit with a link to their own page which in turn summarises their contributions as well as acting as an Author bio page. Interestingly I would use these pages to implement Authorship mark-up but they don’t, there’s no sign of “rel=author” and the editor’s Google+ profile says he’s a contributor to Google Buzz whatever that is…;-).

About A Blog

One chap who has put into practice what I imagine he preaches is Peep Laja. His site is all about Conversion Rate Optimisation, as a result no pixel is left wasted and his About page is no exception. Within the space of one page we get:

  • Value proposition
  • Value in the form of results
  • Blog content summary
  • Bio
  • Access to product
  • Services link
  • Credentials in the form of popular and authorative sites Peep’s had content published on
  • More bio
  • More value proposition
  • Social proof – Twitter links, RSS feed link and Facebook Like button and counter

Conversionxl

I’ve chosen Peep’s About page as CRO can be seen to be a dry topic even within the digital marketing industry but I like how vital Peep has made CRO seem and how authorative he appears.

Warning: don’t go on there with a credit card nearby because you’re signing up.

 

The Proof Is In The Pudding

The next example of an About Us page comes from a couple travelling or eating their way around the world. They have cunningly titled their blog http://acoupletravelers.com/ .

Their About Us page is causing me issues writing this blog post as now I’m hungry and thinking about tea and what they would suggest and….wait a minute, they’ve got me…

This page could double up as a Home page such is the breadth of site content covered on the page. There are well pitched bios, links to recent and popular posts, a “Bucket List” feature that further establishes rapport by showing a bit more about the authors, as well as clear social buttons at the top and bottom of the page. The mix of media types (text, video and images) too is an excellent way of ensuring there is something for everyone. Google encourages the blending of different media as the cumulative effect will tend to result in content that is thoughtful and relevant.

The page is so comprehensive rather than include a massive screenshot, please visit it and consider how you could incorporate similar concepts to those I’ve covered above.

The one thing I might consider including would be some social proof in the form of Facebook/RSS stats. A minor quibble as I can imagine that they have reached a scale where their content is shared. This is backed up with the incredibly transparent series of monthly posts that delve into the site’s earnings. If you go to this site for anything, go for this post to see how a blog can be monetised.

The About Us Page Tick List

Starting from scratch can be hard so I’ve listed some key things to consider when putting an About Us page together. Whilst not exhaustive, this should mean you’ve invested the right amount of time and focus.

  • Convey A Voice
  • Strike A Chord That Resonates
  • Welcome Visitors To The Family
  • Convey Your Product Highlights
  • Show Industry Recognition
  • Show Regulatory Credentials
  • Demonstrate What Benefit Your Site Will Add
  • Link Intelligently

The Floor Has It…

So what’s the point of an About Us page?

What About Us/Me pages do you look at and think “they’ve got that right”?

What About Us pages could do with a drastic rethink? Let me know in the comments.

With a bazillion sites out there, there must be some crackers worth sharing. Thanks for reading.

Image Credits

About Us via Bigstock

Graeme Benge

Graeme Benge

With five years background in Travel, Graeme has built up strong commercial experience alongside online and offline marketing skills working with a variety of Travel Agents and Cruise Specialists. A passionate advocate of SEO and Social Media, Graeme has a strong interest in ROI and analytics in order to deliver the best level of returns.

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17 Comments

  • Vicky Jarman 11th April 2013

    Great post and definitely given some food for thought. Instantly recognised room for improvement in our own About Us page.

    Reply to this comment

    • Graeme Benge

      Graeme Benge 11th April 2013

      Thanks Vicky – we spent some time on ours trying to get the mix of messages right.
      They needn’t be set in stone either, they should evolve with the company.

      Reply to this comment

      • Donna Hamilton 17th April 2013

        Great post! Also agree with Graeme that message need not be set in stone. People like to see “updates” (with leaving the original text/figures etc in place), as this gives more credibility to how the company has improved/developed.

  • Doug Rotherham 11th April 2013

    Graeme,
    Excellent post – just happened to be working on an about page today. A helpful checklist for anyone looking to improve their About page.
    Cheers,
    Doug

    Reply to this comment

  • Dave and Vicky 12th April 2013

    WOW – so flattered that you included us and wrote such nice things. : ) Glad you enjoyed reading the about us page and thanks for the traffic and income reports shout out!

    Reply to this comment

  • hack facebook 17th April 2013

    Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

    Reply to this comment

  • Laura Geaves 17th April 2013

    Great post, it’s so true of most websites and blogs, including mine. I’m definitely going to take your comments on board!

    Reply to this comment

    • Graeme Benge

      Graeme Benge 18th April 2013

      Thanks Laura – seems all to easy to slip into company historian mode! These guys really made me think that every page on site is prime time real estate, every page should convert or bring a prospect closer to converting…including the About Us page!

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Reply to this comment

  • Heather Stone 21st April 2013

    Hi Graeme,
    I’d argue the best “About” page tells audiences what’s in it for them. What can they expect from your site? How will it help them? Answer this question correctly, provide content that follows through on your promises and they’ll be back again and again.

    Reply to this comment

    • Graeme Benge

      Graeme Benge 22nd April 2013

      Hi Heather,
      Thanks for the comment, I bet you’ve seen many About Us pages over at Bizsugar!

      What one’s have stood out, have hit that mark you describe of informing an audience and given enough reason for a visitor to explore a site more?

      Reply to this comment

    • deepak 4th June 2013

      agree with you on that point Heather..That exactly should be the main point of the about us page.

      Reply to this comment

  • Armand Szoke 23rd April 2013

    Very good article, saved for future reference.

    For me, the best about us pages are the ones with a bit of personality, like the one we did for one of our clients: http://www.inspireestates.co.uk/why-choose-us/about-us (hover over the images for extra fun) :)

    Reply to this comment

    • Graeme Benge

      Graeme Benge 23rd April 2013

      Love it Armand!

      That ticks the boxes for me, personality as well as relevant info. I’d look around the site more for certain.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply to this comment

      • Armand Szoke 23rd April 2013

        Once we’re at personality, we also found these guys’ about page a good inspiration (the cheese also shows a bit of their attitude :) )
        http://userlook.com/about/

  • deepak 4th June 2013

    Was looking for some good tips to design the perfect about us page for my blog.Looks like i have found everything here…off to work now.

    Reply to this comment

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