Here’s one thing that never made sense to me: people make websites so others can find out more about them, but most “About Us” pages absolutely suck. They’re either really long and boring or really short and mysterious. Not many people understand the best way to go about these pages.
Many believe the “About Us” page is an afterthought because everyone wants to see the work or the products or read up on the services. And while that’s true, providing the right history and information can increase a website’s effectiveness.
The importance of telling your story
As designers and developers, we can spend a lot of time focusing how we want a web design to look and how we want to present the content. The meaty stuff takes up most of our focus so the extra pages like the about page and contact page are just a formality. But no longer!
We live in a time where people desire a deeper connection. Brands are successful when they’re consistent with their message, they know what they represent, and they have a story that connects with people. We love Tom’s brand shoes because they have a purpose in enriching the lives of those less fortunate. We love Apple because they desire to innovate not just technology, but culture. We love various musical artists because of they came from nothing and created something for themselves and their surroundings.
But why do these brands do this? What make these brands tick? How do they make these connections? If you take care of your “about page”, you can easily attempt to start managing your brand there.
Find what they care about
There’s a reason someone comes to your website. What you have to do is figure out what that purpose is and cater to that. Let’s take the freelance web designer for example. Why are people coming to your website? They mainly want to see your work, know who you’ve worked with and maybe know your background.
The most important thing potential clients go to web designers’ websites is to see the work and see who they’re working with. Most times, they want to know they’re working with someone who has a personality and understands their needs as opposed to someone who has several degrees, accolades and awards. It sounds crazy, but in a creative field, if a client can make that connection first, everything else seems to follow.
If I’m coming to your website to learn about your product, do I really care most about the CEO of the company or how the product came about? Well, it all depends on your representation, but most times I’m most interested in the product. That doesn’t mean the CEO does not matter, it just means that most of the time spent needs to be about the product. Don’t fluff on other things that almost a non-factor to your audience.
Use the right voice
You have to figure out what voice works best for your line of work. Again, if I’m a freelance web designer that specializes in corporate websites, my jargon is going to be that of a corporation. Not only should my portfolio reflect that, but the words I choose and the voice I choose should be easy to relate to. In my about section, I’m not going to talk about how I love pizza and other quirky things.
This builds consistency and trust with your brand. If I’m purchasing luxury jewelry from someone, in their about page, I first want to know about the jewelry. Secondly, I want them to speak to me as if I’m spending luxury money on luxury items. Don’t speak to me informally because that may allow me to question my trust in the brand.
No sales zone
The about section is the time where you build relationships with your audience. It’s not a time to push your agenda of money making on them. This is the area where you can put your guard down and allow people to really see inside your company. You may be a clothing retail chain that sells edgy, trendy clothes. Your about section however, may be able to pull back that edginess to show how you actually care about different issues.
At no time should you be begging anyone to purchase your product. In some cases this alright: Perhaps you’re a web designer who has published a book at some point. You don’t have to point out that the reader should purchase your book, but you can make them very aware of your product, especially if the remainder of your site is not based on this book.
I think it’s also in good taste to capture information in your about section. Perhaps you have a newsletter or want to send free information. This is a great place to put an information capture because now people know more about you and may be even more interested.
Personality through images
This is probably one of the more obvious points, but please add imagery. Maybe you want to add pictures of your studio or your brick and mortar shop. Maybe you want to add a pleasant picture of you or maybe even a quirky picture of yourself, if that’s your game.
Again, you have a story to tell and it’s extremely important that you add imagery to that story. You don’t want them guessing about you and making stuff up, so just give it to them straight up. If you’re a fashion designer, add a couple trendy pictures of yourself. If you’re a serious entrepreneur, add some pictures of you at work in a suit tie — not in cargo shorts and a sweatshirt.
Now, some folks like to create a new page for their client list or even testimonials and that’s definitely alright if you have tons. If you do not, please add them to your about page. Again, you want to build credibility and trust with your potential customer or client. Word of mouth marketing is some of the best marketing you can find. If you have someone that will sign on to your talents, feature them and maybe even their story so customers can get a better idea of how you work.
Getting testimonials is not a tough thing to do. After a project, I tend to send out a survey that allows my clients to give me feedback. I have a place for them to share any positive feedback, and any of those I like can be used as testimonials for my work. If you don’t want to do all that, then just ask for one!
Examples of good ‘about’ pages
IGN has a very forthright about page that quickly and immediately tells you what they are about. Looking down, they show you some of their other companies and explain those as well. There’s not a lot of fluffl here.
Justin is also very aware that he doesn’t have to fluff his about section. It’s quite to the point and he’s got a little testimonial there to help his credibility. In addition, he also shows off places where his work has been featured because it can’t hurt to be recognizable.
Paravel uses self images to help establish a connection. They’re more of a fun group and have a line or two about who they are as people. They also have listed a few places they’ve done speaking gigs and some of their projects, again, to help credibility.
B-Reel is more content rich in this section, but through visual hierarchy, they’ve made it easy to read and understand. As you continue scrolling, you see other areas which interest B-Reel which are obviously not the main points. The first portion of the about section is all inclusive and is probably what the consumer cares about most.
Unstoppable Robot Ninja
Ethan Marcotte does a great job of making it evident what he’s all about. What I like about this section is the ability to go more in depth with Ethan if you choose, via links in highlighted words of the content.
The personality in this entire website is evident, but even more so in the section that’s about the designer. Though it isn’t super short, he uses bold type and bullet points to make obvious what you need to see. I also like how he easily broke down some of the reasons why you would contact him. Very good idea.
ProBlogger is something many of us may be familiar with as a blog that gives sound advice on starting blogs. I like how he has utilized his about section to capture information and make his audience aware of his product offerings without being overbearing.
MailChimp has many areas of interest in their about section–which is mostly evident for larger businesses. What I like, however, is most sections aren’t overwhelming and are easy to read.
There’s a lot of personality on this page and you can’t help but love it. He also makes himself very easy to read and understand.
Letters uses their about section to explain what they do and their process, as opposed to who they are and how they started. Again, we have to assume this is more what their consumers are interested in. After they’ve explained themselves, they have a nicely places contact form.
While it looks like a lot of information, there’s really not much fluff on this page. We get to the point about how the company was created and you also have the option to find out more about team members. Again, I like how they easily broke down reasons you may want their services.
The layout of this page is great because you’re obviously showcasing more than one thing. You can talk about the story or the process or the environment, three things that are obviously interesting to the buyer. You can pick your own.
Copyblogger’s about section can me misconstrued as a bit too salesy. Fortunately, if you scroll down you get to read more about the founder and he establishes a lot of his credibility with his bio and appearances. There’s also a nicely placed information capture.
The ‘About Page’ is really one of those things that people feel like is up to them and their personal taste. What we have to remember is content is king and the right words can make a person do almost anything. You must create and maintain relationships, trust and value while you’re explaining who and what you are.
Aside from these pointers, you’ve got to figure out how to organize and present this information. Some people have multi-paged ‘about’ sections while others just work with one page. Figure out what idea works best for your content and go from there.
Do you have an ‘About Page’ on your own site? What content did you include? Let us know in the comments below.