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About us pages are easily overlooked, but they do perform a valuable role on websites: explaining your product or proposition in a way that visitors can easily understand.
Here, I'll look what about us pages need to do, as well as some useful examples...
How important are 'about us' pages?
That's a tricky question, and the answer may vary according to the type of website and product or service on offer.
For example, I doubt that Tesco's about us page is especially vital, but if you're a startup, then your page needs to explain what you do to new visitors.
According to James Gurd of DigitalJuggler:
Typically, only a small % of visitors will ever look at this page (for example for one B2C retail Client only 0.5% of all sessions reach that page, of which 80% are new users), therefore they’re not critical from a commerce point of view.
They are important pages for validating your business credentials to people who don’t know you and have no reason yet to trust you.
'About us' pages are more frequently used on B2B sites, where company history and positioning is a key factor in the buying cycle, especially when selecting a long-term trading partner.
Here. Moz makes its 'About' page a reasonably prominent link in the header.
However, there are some situations in which this page has more value, for example a pureplay retailer with no offline brand presence – visitors are more likely to want to know about them as they don’t have another reference point.
My view is that not having an ‘About’ page is an oversight – it’s a relatively simple task to get this written and maintained and it could make a difference in persuading new users to trust you and make a purchase.
What should a good 'about us' page set out to achieve?
There are three key questions the page needs to answer:
- Who are you?
- Why are you doing this?
- What makes you different?
The content should tell the story of the business in your unique way (so definitely not written by a third party who doesn’t understand what you do) and use persuasion techniques to give people the confidence to trust what you say and do.
It’s about communicating your core values and culture and, to a certain extent, inspiring people with your vision and ambition.
For companies with heritage, it should also provide a timeline to showcase how the company has grown/evolved since launch, using photos from the different periods to provide a visual trail.
To use Moz as an example again, its 'about' page contains a timeline that establishes it as a brand with some history, as well as being easy to read.
What information is essential on 'about us' pages?
There are some pieces of information that people expect to see on such pages.
A concise vision statement
This should summarise what the company represents, what it does and why it does it.
This is one from MethodsUnsound.com (from our very own Christopher Ratcliff) , which is to the point, and honest about the fact that it's just starting up:
Many tech and agency sites can be frustrating in their failure to explain what they do in plain English, but Phrasee describes what it does succintly:
A summary of the company culture and core values.
Here, Moz explains its core values:
Testimonials from genuine customers/fans
This is from the Econsultancy about page, showing some of the clients we've worked with, complete with video testimonials.
A snapshot of key employees
This helps to show that the company is kosher, and photos make these pages easier to scan and understand. Here's ours:
Some companies have been more creative with theirs. I like Digital Marmalade's use of Top Trumps style cards for each team member:
Lateral shows its design chops with this page, where each member turns to look at the photo you mouse over.
Kitchencraft uses an interactive timeline to show the company's heritage:
Video is a proven way to communicate longer messages, as not all businesses can be summed up in a sentence or two.
Here's an example from Smart Pansions: