I stumbled over the most swell website “About” page the other day (don’t ask me how) and I knew I wanted to share it with you. I’ve done that below, but before that, I wanted to pour a cup of coffee and have a little chat with you about your About page.
I’ve learned from our product The 90-Minute Website that there’s one page that seems to take the longest for participants to complete, because it never quite feels right, and it gets revised and revised and revised. You guessed it: The About page.
Most of my clients agonize over their About page, some to the extent they don’t put one up at all. They worry over what to say. How personal to be. Whether it should be first-person or third-person (or second person…wouldn’t THAT be interesting…) Should I include a photo? Should it be a studio headshot or a relaxed, approachable view of me? Does anybody read those things?
Because I don’t believe this much pain and suffering is required, I wanted to show you a couple of examples of About pages that work, tell you why they work, and then give you a little formula that might help you feel good about yours. Would that help? I hope so.
First, a small company.
I’m so toughened against marketing that there isn’t much that catches my fancy for more than a few seconds at a time these days (sad, huh?) Restaurant websites are not something that usually keep my attention. But I literally read through this entire page, flipped through every one of the 20-odd photos in the slideshow, smiled all the way through, and wished I lived in Grand Rapids.
Why does it work?
- We get to see Marie (of Marie Catrib’s restaurant) doing her thing and obviously just delighted to be doing it
- The page title pulls you right in – it’s a universal truth that intrigues you from the first glance. What does that have to do with a restaurant? Inquiring minds need to know.
- It shows that she has been lovingly crafting the whole experience of her restaurant in her head since she was little. That’s the kind of place you want to eat.
- It explains why she does this work, why it matters to her.
- It gives you a crystal-clear idea of the owner’s values, warmth, creativity, and caring.
In short, it humanizes the restaurant, and makes it the kind of place—and person—you want to support.
Now, a big company
What sets this one apart from the standard, boring corporate About page?
- Another grabby and fun photo, like Marie’s montage. This one plays off their current humorous ad campaign that centers on the fact that people (apparently) regularly mispronounce the MailChimp name or get it wrong
- What the company does, and where it came from
- Their leadership team and their people, displayed in a fun, informal and engaging way
- Their corporate culture and their work in the community, described in an unstuffy, approachable way (“MailChimp serves the people and organizations in Atlanta that help make our city better, weirder, and more human.”)
I have a lot of choices when it comes to email marketing services, and most of them are to me (as my friend & mentor Judith Morgan would put it) “Much of a muchness,” offering very similar services.
I want to work with the one that’s creative, human, approachable, and fun — AND good at what they do. This About page seals the deal for me.
Having trouble with yours?
Here are a handful of tips for making your About page a super-useful page in your site:
- Have one. And call it “About”. That’s what most peoples’ eyes are looking for when they want to learn more about you.
- Tell people your name, and what you do. Don’t worry about redundancy. Always remember that, through the mystical world of Google search, they may land here FIRST when they visit your site. Reiterate, in a very short blurb, who you are and what great thing(s) you offer.
- Tell your story, but don’t make it a novella. Keep it focused, keep it tight. This might not be a comfortable topic, but it has to be said: If your About page is a thousand-word tome that rambles through your life journey and work history and trials and tribulations, the intuitive takeaway to potential clients is that a working relationship with you will be similarly unfocused and one-sided. Instead….
- …Start with them. And end with them. Wait, you thought the About page was about you? Well, that’s partly true. But what you’re really doing out there is connecting with the human being who clicked “About” in your site’s menu. Tell them why you’re good at the thing they came to the site to learn about. Tell them how your unique history prepared you to help them. Tell them—show them—how passionate about your work you are. This kind of energy establishes a bond between you and your audience. They know you, like you, trust you
- Show yourself. Yes, the dreaded photo. Sorry. But seriously: If I am online checking you out, with the intent of recommending you to someone important to me, or taking the next step into a business relationship with you, I need to get a sense of you first. I need to see you, hear you, and decide whether I like you. The best choice for a photo isn’t always a formal headshot. Showing yourself doing the work you love, or in the environment where you do it, can make a stronger connection than just donning the spiffiest suit in your closet.
- Don’t use jargon. Oh, don’t get me wrong. You can use the language of your industry, but steer clear of trying to prove how much you know on your About page by packing it full of niche terminology. By limiting yourself to business-speak and obvious self-promotion, you end up sounding just like everyone else. The idea is to set yourself apart, not prove you’re just as good as the other players in the room.
- Write it in your own voice. Read it out loud to yourself or to a colleague/friend. Rank it on the stuffy meter, wherever it falls from super-formal to ouch-maybe-too-much-information. Lean it a smidge more toward the latter than the former.
- Answer the question: Who are you, how can you help me, and what passions/tools/background prepare you to do so? No more. No less.
Still have questions? As always, feel free to drop me a line. Your About page is the second-most important page in the site, after your home page—it’s worth the effort to really make it great.