I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you, but your About page needs an about face. Sure, technology and social media are leading your interactive parade to the top of Success Mountain, but with all there is to be dazzled and distracted by, it’s easy for all of us to forget that a little eye contact goes a long way.
Your company’s About page may not be the first impression you make, but for good or for bad it is generally the first meaningful engagement in the experience of your page visitors. Your potential clients and customers split in a hurry when they don’t find what they want, and after all this time, they still want a trustworthy connection. The About page remains the first thing we go looking for on a website. Don’t make us hunt, don’t lead us on, don’t lie. Sure, we’re interested in products and services, but we want to know we can trust who we’re talking to. My guess is that what your company delivers is a whole lot more than a few adjectives and buzzwords strung together, but until you address it head on, those adjectives and buzzwords are delivering a whole lot less.
Mistake #1 – Wait, you still don’t have an About Page?
Maybe you think it’s obvious. Maybe you think your swell tagline says it all. Maybe you think your clients already know you. Between your product and your blog and your endless links to collateral information why would you need to spell out who you are and what you do? Here’s the thing—we all like to start at the beginning, and we all need to be reminded from time to time. Go ahead, introduce yourself. Even for those of us who already know something about you. Think of it as a daily affirmation reminding all of us (and even yourself) what really matters. Just a few meaningful words.
The only thing worse than not having an About page is saying you do when you really don’t. I’m talking to you, Huffington Post. A list of names and titles is not what About is all about.
Mistake #2 – Your About page is an afterthought
It seems like such simple thing—so obvious, so easy, so small in comparison to all you are and how you show it off to the world. After all the energy that goes into the good work you do, and promoting that work by way of visual expression, you always save your About page for last. I mean, you’ve been “about-ing” before the company hit the ground running, right? You thought it would come naturally. Nobody knows you better than you do. So you slap together a paragraph and away you go. You might be placating a few people. But where you could be truly inspiring new clients to connect with your products and services and reach out, instead you are putting them to sleep with unmemorable copy that reads like little more than a lackluster attempt at selling yourself.
Mistake #3 – Your About page is buried or disguised
How easy is it to find the link to your About page from the landing page? How hard does a first time visitor have to look? You’ve got a matter of seconds. Make it clear, make it a priority. There is nothing quite as infuriating as trying to navigate a site to find out the most basic information about a company—all while drowning in an interactive debris field that means nothing to you until your basic curiosities are addressed. Unless you have enough brand power to stash it in the fine print, put it front and center, and don’t make visitors have to work to find it.
Simply call this section About Us, or something very near to it. This is where it pays to be clear. No “Resonate with Us,” “Check Us Out” “What’s Our Deal?” “Who We Be,” or “Our Vibe.” If it is flowery or confusing in the least, it is not doing its job. About page copy itself can be creative, but don’t try doing cartwheels while directing traffic.
Mistake #4 – Your About page is fractured and impractical
This one really bothers me. You’ve got an encyclopedia of information, but it is subdivided into different pages, none of them encapsulating the whole. I’m looking for a summary of who you are and what you do, and instead I’m forced to choose from any number of pages – an exhaustive history of how you began; bios of your executives; high praise from customers. I’m asking for the elevator pitch and you respond by inviting me to dinner at your parents’ house. Don’t assume that because you make all kinds of information available that I have everything I want. Simple and effective is what I want. My time back is what I want. Believe me, there is nothing I love more is access to all the larger pieces of your personality profile once I get to know you. Give us a customer-minded snapshot at the outset. Who you are, what you do, how you got there, and where you are headed.
Mistake #5 – Your About page is a video
Thank you, kindly, but no thank you. Maybe it’s just me, but paying attention to a six minute visual onslaught while who knows what sort of sounds are coming out of my phone in the grocery store line is not my idea of a good time. I can appreciate that the video purportedly tells me all I need to know. I just am wary of giving up control of how I receive and digest information. I came to have my questions answered and I’m being tasked in the process. Sit still! Pay attention! Digest at our speed! I’m sure your video is awesome. I’ll get to it when I trust you. If you can’t say it in a few words, I’m certainly not ready to have you sing and dance it for me while infographics float by.
Mistake #6 – Too stiff. Too safe. No personality. Zzzzzzzzzz
Words matter. Use the right ones. While boring copy won’t get you haters, it won’t stoke the fires of potential customers. You don’t need to prove to us how perfect in every way you are. You don’t need to put on a pair of wacky glasses and entertain us. You need to represent yourself in an honest and compelling way. Sometimes it means finding that voice within yourself. Sometimes it means hiring a professional to find just the right words and make them work for you. Show the clients more of yourself, and they will reciprocate.
Mistake #7 – You don’t showcase your products and services
I don’t need your extensive backstory. I don’t need to know how great you are or how customers gush about you. I need to connect to more than philosophies and heart. I need real world translation. Don’t tell me you scoop dreams onto cones. Tell me you sell 39 flavors of ice cream. Give me the general scope of what you do. You’d be surprised how many companies assume visitors already know or don’t need to know. Play it straight. Once clients or customers have a basic sense of who you are and what you do for them, they can move to the next phase in getting to know you.
Mistake #8 – Upselling me on your products and services
Nothing is worse than feeling gamed. No one likes shaking their nephew’s hand at the family picnic only to find a business card inside. If you prize moving product more than serving customers you might need to revisit the purpose of good business. About pages are great for companies that are eager to connect with and meet the needs of their customers. Otherwise your About page might as well say “Wants money, has no soul.” Save the sales pitch for the moment you’ve earned my trust.
Mistake #9 – Industry jargon overload
Check your SEO urges at the door and tell us a story. Too much insider lingo can come across as high-minded and vain. You needn’t spend so many syllables convincing us you know your realm. You should, however, take the time to bring it down to our level, show us your human side, or at the very least come across as friendly and relatable. “Professional” doesn’t require throwing around a lot of big words. It means you can speak to the heart of people without needing to.
Mistake #10 – Too long
There is a time and a place for an extensive foray into all that you have done and will do. Your About page is not that time. Piles of information cease to be a resource and amass into a burden for newcomers. Here’s a place to start: 100 words. Can you do it? Remember, you are laying ground work here. You don’t have to include lists of everything that makes you special. In fact, if you can stir visitors to inquire further, having more “special” to delight them with will only serve to help convert visitors to customers.
Mistake #11 – Too clever
Yes, this is a thing. After so many years of safe and boring About pages, zany seems to be in, particularly at the front edge of pioneering tech companies. Treating your About page like a tongue-in-cheek performance art turns heads, gets shares and breaks out of the stale norm. But it is not any less dishonest if it places performance over meaningful connection. Visitors rolling over and going back to sleep is one problem, but rolling their eyes is another. Push the envelope, but don’t pat yourself on the back. If your About ranges too far outside the box, it may well reflect poorly on you as vanity or trying too hard to get attention. You might not take your professionalism too seriously, but taking your personality too seriously can capsize the boat just the same.
Mistake #12 – Thinking your About page is about you
Back it up and turn it around. Good About pages connect visitors to themselves—what they like, what they need, and how they like to be treated. It is all about them. If your products and services truly exist to serve, allow your customers to find themselves in what you do. If they resonate with your story, good. If they connect to the problem you solve, even better. If they suspect they’ve found someone worth investing more time in, you are on your way. The best companies in the world are grateful to have a chance to meet needs. Your company isn’t just a machine of awesomeness. It exists to have curiosity about the changing interests and needs of clients so that it can meet as many of them as possible.