Who the hell are you anyway?

About us pages are the neglected step child of the web design world. This needs to change.

I am fed up with boring about us pages that consist of the company history and a letter from the CEO. Nobody cares!

Everybody feels like they have to have an about us section, but few know why or what they should include. Too often they turn into long rambling documents which spout useless facts about the company. Instead (as with the rest of your site) they need to focus on users needs. So what is it that users are looking for in an about us section?

I believe there are certain questions users have in their minds when they turn to the “about us” section of your website. These include:

Are you financially stable?

If there is going to be some kind of financial arrangement between yourself and the user they wants to know that you are going to be around long enough to honour that arrangement. Will you deliver before you go out of business?

37signals

Who are the people behind your company?

Whether a user is judging the reliability of content or the trustworthiness of a supplier, they want to get a sense of the people behind the organisation.

clearleft website

What is the make up of your organisation?

Users may want to know how your company is organised. For example if the website is for a web design agency they may want to know how many project managers you have or whether you have enough developers to deal with their workload.

Erskine Design

What do you do?

Users don’t just want to know what you do they want to know quickly. They don’t want to read pages of copy. They want a one paragraph summary that gives them a quick overview.

tricycleinc.com

What is this company’s culture?

If the user is going to be engaging personally with your company (for example if you are a service based business) then they will want a sense of your company culture. Will they get on with you? Are you too formal or too irreverent? What kind of experience can they expect?

Two Giraffes

What makes you different?

With so many competitors in most markets and with them only a click away, users want a sense of what makes you different. The about us section should give a sense of that difference.

Greenpeace

Can they back up their claims?

Users are increasingly suspicious about claims made on websites. They may turn to the about us section to see if you can backup those claims by trying to understand more about the business behind the promises.

MailChimp

What do they stand for (and against)

Users care increasingly about the philosophy behind an organisation. They care whether your company takes ethical positions or have a particular approach to business. The about us section is an ideal place for showing that you care.

innocent drinks

Are they trustworthy?

Trust is a huge issue online. Users are hyper sensitive to the fact that a website can hide a multitude of sins. They hear all the time about scams online and the dangers of handing over credit card details. They turn to the about us section in the hopes of discovery whether you are a real organisation that can be trusted.

zappos

I actually found it very hard to find good examples of about us pages for this post. Do you know of any shining examples of well written about us pages? If so it would be great to see them. Post links in the comments below.

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  • Great post Paul. Currently in the process of redesigning my site so this post has really sparked plenty of ideas for me.

  • Gamblino

    Really good post – I didn’t think it would be half as interesting!

  • Well I’ll have this in mind because I’ve been struggling with this part a long time and is the mayor setback on publishing a blog.

    I’ve always known what’s wrong but never dared to try and make it right (how lame of me).

    I’ll also show it to my sister who is working on her pastry shop content.

  • At the end of the day, doing business is all about relationships. Great examples of how to start yours off on the right foot — from the very, very beginning.

  • David Runion

    Eden Foods is an example I’ve shown in the past:
    http://www.edenfoods.com/about/
    Great post, well thought out, thanks!

    • I hope the reply about eden foods was a joke, I looked at that page and couldn’t even bring myself to start reading the essay that showed up.

      Great post as always Paul.

  • It’s not called an “about” page, but I think HUGE Inc does a great job with their “process” page.

    Also Dribbble is pretty good.

    I also love Dustin Curtis’s timeline.

  • Any website’s desired relationship with visitors can be seen by how they speak to them on their about page.

    If they are presenting the ceo’s letter and some corporate history they definitely are not looking to get cuddly with their visitors. On the other hand there are many about pages serving as diary entries for too personal site owners.

    About pages should represent who you are, what you do, and how you want to interact with the visitor.

    I think you nailed this idea and use some great examples Paul. Thanks.

  • Thank you so much for this article!!! This information is wonderful and very easy to try and implement. I just redesigned my site and think my about page includes most of your points — but I may add a few more (when I get a chance) after reading this article!

    I would love it if you could check it out: http://www.4thegrapes.com/About/index.htm

  • I’m often overwhelmed by the intelligence so many web developers exhibit in their writing but I am absolutely blown away by this post. Thank you for this valuable resource.

  • Why does “Two Giraffes” show three giraffes?

  • how do these principles change for an individual freelancer? my current about page is: http://capitalgdesign.com/contact.html
    I am in the process of a redesign. advice?

  • Nice post. We recently updated ours and tried to have some fun with it. Would love to know your thoughts. http://www.zendesk.com/company

  • Excellent post Paul. When we recently redesigned we had pains in what exactly we were going to write for the About Us Page. We settled on the following: http://www.southbourne.com/about-us not riveting or exciting but does tell the visitor or potential client who we are. We upped the ante a little by creating a People page (same link look for people) and spoke about each member of the team which gives an insight into what we do professionally and what we like to do in our spare time.

    Thanks for a good article

  • Wow, this is an about us page! Of course it depends on what you’re offering you should have different types of about us/about me pages. But for someone like you that is offering a service to business it’s important to have a good about us page

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