The “About” page is often the most visited section of a website. It acts as the public face of any organization, company or individual, highlighting who you are, what you do and most importantly, why visitors should give you their business.
There’s an art to creating the perfect About page. Check out the eight tips below to make sure you get it right.
1. Make it visibleToo often, website creators bury the About page link all the way at the bottom of a homepage in teeny, tiny font—if they feature it on the homepage at all. Placement of the About page tab should match its level of importance. Think about it this way: Many of your website’s visitors are looking to find out what your company, non-profit, club, etc. does. We also know that more than half of web visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a site. If you don’t provide easy access to the information they seek, they’ll quickly navigate away from your site. Keep them on the hook by including a brief “About” section on the homepage, or putting a clear link in your homepage’s top or side navigation bar.
2. Keep it simpleSome get creative with naming their About page, calling it Our Journey, Nuts and Bolts, Inside the Machine, or some other clever phrase. Resist this temptation! Visitors—especially those who are unfamiliar with your business—won’t intuitively connect these names with the information they’re looking for. “About,” “About Us” or “Our Story” will do just fine.
3. Include the most important information at the topYour company history, staff, and plans for expansion are all interesting nuggets, but they’re not the most important information for first-time visitors. These users are looking for answers to three major questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do? What business, service, etc. do you provide?
- How can you help me?
You should be able to answer these questions in a short “elevator pitch”—two-to-three clear, non-technical sentences. This high-level summary should appear at the very top of your About page. This short pitch is absolutely the most essential component of any About page—and possibly your website as a whole.
Here are a few examples of companies doing it right: National Geographic: The National Geographic Society has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888. It is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, and the promotion of environmental and historical conservation.
MailChimp: More than 9 million people and businesses around the world use MailChimp. Our features and integrations allow you to send marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. And our detailed reports help you keep improving over time.
TaskRabbit: TaskRabbit allows you to live smarter by connecting you with safe and reliable help in your neighborhood. Outsource your household errands and skilled tasks to trusted people in your community. It’s an old school concept - neighbors helping neighbors - reimagined for today.
4. Make it scannableThe high-level summary may be the most critical part of the About page, but it’s not the only piece of information that describes who you are and the services you provide. Supplemental material is great, but only if it’s presented as digestible bits beneath clear headings. These will vary depending on the type of organization and mission, but common sub-sections include:
- Our History: A brief narrative about the company’s founding and evolution.
- Our Staff: Photos and short bios of your employees or, if a large organization, just company leadership.
- Our Products/Services: List and explain your offerings, and provide photos.
- Success Stories: Highlight a few major outcomes or stories of impact that will impress readers.
- What Our Customers Are Saying: List a few quotes or testimonials from long-time customers or clients who are happy with your service.
Be sure that there’s some hierarchy to these sub-sections—the information most relevant to the largest number of customers belongs at the top. These sections are also great places to provide hyperlinks to other relevant pages on your website where visitors can get more detailed information on a specific topic, product or service that interests them.
5. Give them the facts—not flowery languageThere’s a common expression amongst writers that you must “show” readers information, not “tell” them. In describing your organization, mission and services, use data and specific examples, not overblown adjectives or corporate jargon.
GrubHub’s elevator pitch is a great example of concrete, compelling descriptions: GrubHub is the nation's leading online and mobile food ordering company dedicated to connecting hungry diners with local takeout restaurants. The company’s online and mobile ordering platforms allow diners to order directly from approximately 35,000 takeout restaurants in more than 900 U.S. cities and London. Every order is supported by the company’s 24/7 customer service teams. GrubHub has offices in Chicago, New York and London.
Listing the number of restaurants involved and the number of cities where GrubHub has a presence shows the company’s scale, rather than tells it. By noting its 24/7 customer service, customers will know that GrubHub is reliable and dependable. And the company avoids technical jargon or corporate lingo by simply describing GrubHub’s mission as “connecting hungry diners with local takeout restaurants.”
6. Reflect your organization’s personalityReaders will understand who you are by what you say as well as how you say it. Make sure the tone of your website matches the personality of your business. For example, the tone of a website for a funky coffee shop will be very different than that of a research institute. Just like a website for a local comedy club will have much lighter air than a website for the local hospital. It is sometimes helpful to start by making a list of words that describe your organization and its overall vibe. Let these words guide your About page’s content, tone and style.
7. Use multimedia to enhance your storyWeb text is important, but enhancing the copy with photos, videos and graphics can make it exponentially more impactful. Experts say that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. And Buzzfeed found that visitors spent 100 percent more time on web pages with videos.
Try supplementing your elevator pitch with a short video that shows your business’s work in action (check out this example from National Geographic, and this post for how to make a DIY video). Or describe the company history through an interactive timeline. Include photos of staff and products, or short video interviews with company leaders or clients. And explain your sales growth, impacts or complicated processes like supply chains through graphics.
8. Keep content freshYour business or organization will inevitably evolve over time. So should your About page. Be sure to review your content at least once every six months, and update so that it’s timely, relevant, compelling and true to your mission.
The About page is a cornerstone of any effective website. There are still a lot of additional building blocks necessary to create a successful web presence, but with these tips, you’ll begin laying the right foundation.
Sarah is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, MD. Her work has also appeared in Popular Science, Audubon, OnEarth, GOOD, Grist.org, Inhabitat.com, and several other publications. When she's not creating compelling online content, Sarah enjoys reading, cooking, watching bad reality TV, and pampering her dog, Clancy.