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Don't take your About Us page for granted

Despite various ‘expert’ comments that website use is fading in this era of social media and mobile technology, websites are still a vital source of information. When building or running websites, recent usability studies by the Nielsen Norman Group indicate you engage users best by crafting key information in your About Us pages. This might seem obvious, but many organizations still don’t understand its importance.

Research findings show new visitors to your website are strongly influenced by the About Us page – more strongly than you might expect. After the home page, the About Us page is probably the most important point in a website for a visitor, consistent with the concept of the primacy effect and the recency effect, in which people remember the first and last things best in a list of any items or pages.

Helpful, well-written summaries in key About Us pages will increase perceptions of transparency and trust about your organization.

Site visitors make first-impressions very quickly – and they move on if they feel you are not worth the effort. The lesson is to give a good overview of your organization in these pages – in the summary/intro area of all main pages in addition to the About Us area in the home page.

Visitors need to read highlights they can absorb in a glance. Concise summaries at the top of each main page are appealing because they provide context and reduce the amount of effort required to click through layers of content. Forcing people to work hard turns them off. However, vague generic statements, and platitudes and clichés are equally unacceptable for an About Us page.

For instance, the About Us page of billion-dollar pharmaceutical company AbbVie starts with the grand heading: “Addressing some of the world’s greatest health needs,” but gives not the slightest hint anywhere on the page as to what those health issues may be and what AbbVie actually does.

It is not until we reach the Who We Are page linked from the About Us page that some specific information starts to emerge (screenshot below). However, this raises the question as to why the company is differentiating between About Us and Who We Are. Surely the content for both belongs in the About Us page because the content of the Who We Are page is very generic and could easily be contained in the same page.

Further, when the content does start to deal with specifics, it is very confusing. Under the heading ‘A New Beginning’ in the Who We Are page, the text states “On January 1, 2013, AbbVie was founded as a global biopharmaceutical company...” No further context provided. No explanation of this.

At least a Google search reveals AbbVie is a spin-off from Abbott Laboratories, but this is not mentioned directly in the About Us or Who We Are page on either website. (A screenshot of the ‘above the fold’ view of the vague Abbott About Us page is shown below.) All that is said about the connection is “expertise rooted in a 125-year history as an innovative leader in advancing healthcare”. So here is a billion-dollar company established as recently as 2013 with a 125-year history! No mention of Abbott or any history.

If I were seeking to find helpful information for considering a job at AbbVie or Abbott, or intending to deal with either company, I would be very dubious about them.

Conclusion

When people arrive at a new website and assess its relevance and ease of use, their judgment is strongly influenced by their experience at the home page and About Us page. If users gain a good first-impression, their positive feelings relate to other areas in the site. If users gain a poor first-impression, their negative feelings extend to the rest of the site.

Credibility is a major issue on the web. Site visitors make up their minds in seconds as to how useful a site is. When they visit the About Us section they are seeking critical information to determine whether or not to engage with you. Explaining who you are matters.

Tell your story concisely by putting yourself in the mind of a visitor who knows little or nothing about you (the classic ‘putting yourself in the shoes of a customer’). This is so basic, but so many organizations don’t bother, and so they suffer the penalty – visitors quickly go elsewhere.

Providing useful key themes at the top of key pages enables users to focus on the information and not on any confusion with lack of useful content or unhelpful navigation. Don’t confuse ‘useful’ with ‘bland.’ Clear, broad themes convey your unique qualities and earn the trust of your visitors.

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.

 

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