Your About page should be working for you. Often small businesses aren’t sure what to do with the About page, or even what its purpose is. As always, when we lack strategy with our content, we waste the opportunity our web visitors are giving us to introduce ourselves, educate them, or build a relationship. Let’s look at 6 ways you can put your About page to work.
Read through or jump to the end for a sweet infographic about 6 Steps to a Better About Page.
1. Actually have an About page
The About page of your website is a kind of intellectual anchor for your users. It gives depth and context to everything else on your site. It answers the question, “Who are these people and why should I care?”
Of course it’s necessary to address who are these people and why should I care on your homepage and other pages, but the About page lets you get into it a more. The content on this page demonstrates your personality, your purpose, your vision, and how all of those things help you respond to your user’s mission for using your site.
Give this stuff a dedicated page that’s clearly identified as “About” or “About Us” because those are the words users are looking for to dig into this kind of content.
2. Don’t make your About page all about you
What now? Yup. Take this statement to heart and it’ll help you make great decisions about your About page content: Your About page is not about you, it’s about your users.
Here’s some cold hard truth – nobody cares about the mission statement you worked on for hours in your last company retreat. Nobody cares about your long and winding company history. Nobody cares until you give them a reason to care. Unless your mission statement or pictures of your last company picnic helps your users with their mission to know more about you, do business with you, or somehow engage with your content or business, you’re wasting their time.
A good About page accomplishes two things at once – it demonstrates value to your audience while telling your story. That’s it. Sharing your company history is boring. Sharing your company history in context of demonstrating that you have a long legacy of innovation, or do business differently than others, or have a proven record of success – that’s useful to your users, and that’s awesome. A picture of the outside of your office doesn’t mean much. Captioning it with a description of the warehouse space it provides, or how it’s decorated to reflect your company culture, or with descriptions of your unique meeting rooms makes the picture useful to your visitors.
3. Don’t underutilize your About page
Jacob Gube of Six Revisions identifies 3 groups of people visiting your About page:
- First time visitors
- Regular Users
- People who want to work with you
In all three cases, but especially first time visitors and people who want to work with you, the About page is a huge opportunity to begin building a relationship. Don’t waste that with nothing more than a boilerplate “our mission is…” paragraph and a few pictures of your staff.
My philosophy is that if somebody’s visiting your About page, they must be pretty curious about you. Think about it – they’ve likely already been through your homepage. Probably browsed some of your services or products. If they’re still on your website and checking out your About page, they must be pretty captivated. Tell your story. Demonstrate why what you do matters to them and why. If you want to introduce your team, do it in a way that instills confidence in their expertise and experience or at least shares their personality – don’t just slap up a job title, email address and phone number.
4. Tell (and show) your story, not your history
I was in a meeting with a client the other day where the CEO shared with me that she’s 59 years old – the same age as the company. Her father started the company 6 weeks before she was born. Right away I thought – that’s a fascinating story. We could capture that in a really fantastic video.
At Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego, there’s a cool sort of pop-up museum of their history. Qualcomm placed the first CMDA cell phone call in 1989 (it doesn’t matter what CMDA is for this post, just know that it’s pretty important to all of us that they figured it out). They have a great video of this call happening during a live demonstration, and you can sense the nervousness and excitement of everybody involved. It’s an important moment in the company’s history, but the way it’s shared is a great story. Qualcomm does a good job on their corporate About Us page of sharing their story. I especially like the images of old photographs, which humanize their company and, in showcasing their modest beginnings, help users to appreciate their success today.
Put your own timeline in context for your users. Why did you move into that new building? Did you need room because you’re growing? Are you growing because you have 200% more customers than 3 years ago? Why do you have so many new customers? Somewhere in there is your story – the thing that will help your users understand why you’re awesome – and that’s what makes the picture of your new building interesting. If your origin story is meaningful to how you do business and why people should do business with you, tell people about it. Use old pictures or real video if you can, or bring users back in time with you to paint the business or personal picture.
5. Share how what you do is different and why it matters
Let’s look at two companies who are using a pseudo “Mission Statement” in the right ways on their About pages.
Pad & Quill make beautiful products like bags, briefcases, and accessories for Apple products. Their site is full of tasteful and compelling imagery showcasing this business model. But the only image on their About page is of Kari and Brian, the couple behind the company.
Right away this humanizes the company. With just this photo they strike an emotional chord with users, warmly saying “Hello, we are the people behind these products.” The pose and composition of their photo communicates closeness. As a user of their website, you feel a kinship. Nothing business-casual about these folks. They seem real and approachable.
Reading on, I love this statement they make:
At Pad & Quill, we don’t merely want to shift the paradigm, we mean to blow it up. We don’t think the market needs another purveyor of cheap crap. Quite the opposite. We think there are folks out there who have the same sense of awe as we do when they behold a beautiful thing.
They then describe their “litmus test” for the products they offer and the way they do business. The page is a great example of demonstrating value to users while telling their story. We get a clear idea of their philosophies and how they strive to set themselves apart from an industry of “cheap crap.” Their users – prospective or existing customers – can appreciate this perspective and likely agree with it. Even when the content reads in ways that are “all about them,” it’s actually all about the value to the customer.
Another company doing it right is Twin Six. (Side note: Pad and Quill is in Minneapolis, and so is Twin Six. Looks like all the cool kids are in the MSP.) Twin Six makes awesome apparel for cyclists.
Like Pad & Quill, Twin Six also has a simple About page, with a “Manifesto” up top and some cool images of their people in action underneath. I dig all of it, but I especially think their Manifesto does a lot of heavy lifting. It reads in part:
Over a decade ago, the bike industry’s slow uphill grind to better graphic apparel options turned riders into unwilling billboards and unfortunate cartoon characterizations. In 2005, fed up with an uninspired selection of choices for technical gear, we set out to change the face of cycling apparel and the predictable regurgitation of last year’s predictable regurgitation.
In this short paragraph we get a sense for:
- The problems the company was seeking to solve (really bad cycling clothing design)
- How long they’ve been around (since 2005).
- The mission of the company (to change the face of cycling apparel and predictable regurgitation).
The rest of their Manifesto is equally as useful to their web users. Like Pad & Quill’s, a statement that’s seemingly “all about them” is really all about us, their prospective customers. I love how they close the Manifesto – “If you’re going to make a statement, make sure it shows that you give a damn.” Think about all you can learn about the company just from reading that sentence.
The images of their team sets an emotional tone and amplifies the message of the Manifesto (Don’t forget – images are pieces of content on your site, so include them strategically and to serve a purpose to your users.) Their contents are rugged, real, action-oriented. The pictures say, “We’re like you. We’re outside on our bikes, in the woods, getting icicles on our beards.” Far beyond just the usual name, position, and contact information, each photo tells its own story of the individual and, collectively then, the company.
By the way and not for nothing – I didn’t include these examples from Pad & Quill and Twin Six just randomly. I’m considering buying a briefcase from Pad & Quill and I own lots of Twin Six gear. Like I mentioned earlier – your About page is trafficked by prospective or existing users, and I’m a real-world example.
6. Consider some conversion efforts
Remember, visitors on your About page are saying they’re curious about you and they’re interested in knowing more. Reward them for their interest with relevant content and opportunities to get into a relationship. Notice the Instagram social links for many of the individuals on the Twin Six page. On my own site, the About page is one of the only pages where, if users stick around for a few moments, I’ll invite them to join my newsletter with a pop-up mechanism. My feeling is that they’re indicating interest and will appreciate the invitation.
I don’t love Facebook feed integrations on a homepage, but you might consider it on an About page – and you should certainly invite social sharing through the usual icons and links. After reading your awesome and compelling About page the next logical thing your user might want to do is connect with you, so make it stupid easy to do so. Besides social sharing buttons I have a contact form ready for engagement.
Go build something awesome About you
For many small businesses, the About page is an afterthought or a holding space for stuff that doesn’t seemingly fit well anywhere else. Get a strategy behind your About page so it’s working for you, and remember to keep it all about your users. Check out the infographic below – feel free to download it as a handy reference as you consider your page.
What challenges do you face with your About page? Know of any that are especially awesome – or awful? I’d love to hear about it!