What’s the “About Us” Page For?

The “About Us” page on your website is one of the trickiest to plan. So when I visited Dr. Tom Hapgood’s beginning web design class at the University of Arkansas, I was very interested to see the variety of approaches the students had taken to this important page.

The essential thing is to understand how people use this page. Many times, “About Us” pages are written as though they were an extension of the homepage. Sometimes they duplicate the homepage. Often they’re a plain presentation of the company mission statement, or an echo of a book’s copyright page. I recently did a site analysis for a company that used the “About Us” page for a glossary. I’m not sure what the designers of these sites think the “About Us” page is for — possibly they imagine that it’s required by law.
In fact, only about 10% of your readers will go to your “About Us” page at all. Very few will start there — I’ve just been confirming my impressions on this by examining my clients’ Analytics, and most have zero visitors entering at that page — and fewer than 10% who do go there will leave the site from that page. Assuming you’ve designed the page well enough not to scare the visitors off, of course.
People go to the “About Us” page for two main reasons. First, they’re looking for contact information. If your site is very well designed, your contact information will be obvious on every page so people don’t have to look, but many of the folks who want to reach you won’t bother searching around. They’ll go right for the “About Us” page, where they confidently assume that data will be easy to find.

Make sure that it is.

The second reason that people go to your “About Us” page is that they are seriously thinking about giving you something — money, their contact information , something they think is important — and they want to make sure you’re trustworthy.

Your “About Us” page is the closest you can get to a face-to-face meeting online. This is the page where you should put your staff or family photograph, your letter from the CEO to the customers, your two generations of experience or fifty years in the same location. The people who visit this page may just glance at your picture and your signature and, reassured, move on to place that order or send that donation. But they may also be willing to stay and read all your details. Sometimes it depends on how much money and information they are contemplating sending to you. So you need a design which will send an immediate reassuring “You can trust us” message, but one which can also accommodate more in-depth content than you may choose to offer on other pages.

Dr. Hapgood’s class was designing a website for the University of Arkansas Master Chorale. I gave them the content for the “About Us” page, so that was generally the same. But they found a variety of design solutions for the “About Us” problem, and they’ve allowed me to share them with you.

Here are some great examples.
lungaro
The first example was designed by Julie Lungaro. Her navigation buttons have an interesting look, and draw the eye. The visitor will probably click on them in the order offered. This means that “About Us” should perhaps not be the first choice, but there are few enough options that there won’t be any confusion. The citron box highlights the contact information, but the shot of blue in the photograph she chose balances the brightness of the color, so it won’t prevent visitors from focusing on the other content.

I also liked the way the text was divided, though for this design I’d probably write another little paragraph in the middle to keep the two columns balanced. The sense of movement in the photo keeps the eye moving and increases the chances that visitors will spend more time exploring the page.

Whether they read the entire page or not, visitors will get the idea that the Master Chorale is a vibrant organization, worth joining or supporting.

kerksieck

Ashley Kerksiek’s design has an overall elegance and charm. I like the sense of movement in the watermark at the left, and the way it balances the focus of the banner and the photo. The navigation buttons are understated, but the use of space keeps them clear and easy to find.

This design separates the history of the Chorale from the director’s bio, giving the visitor a feeling of exploring more deeply — or of having the option of doing so, which is just as reassuring.

harrington
Caroline Harrington explained that the logo she designed was intended to evoke risers and sound waves. I liked the sassy picture of the director that she chose, and the way she pulled the colors from it, adding the blue for a surprise. Her navigation buttons are in the expected place, and therefore easy to follow. The color makes them stand out, and helps to increase the visibility of the contact information as well.

aguilarscrn

Corrinna Aguilar’s design has an art deco vibe and an intriguing color scheme. Her use of color with the black and white photo is unexpected but keeps the focus on the director’s face. She’s used light type on a dark background on the navigation buttons — usually not desirable, but since the type is large and the layout fits users’ expectations about where everything will be, she is able to use that design element to jazz up her page without threatening usability.

If you look back at these pages, you’ll notice that all four used the same basic shape: a narrow column on the left with one or two wider columns comprising the bulk of the page, and a banner at the top. And yet each designer gives a different look and feel to the page. These students are beginners; this is their first full web site. And yet they’ve used color, space, and line to accomplish the goals of the “About Us” page.

Have a look at your own website’s “About Us” page. Does it serve its purpose? Does the content make your company sound human, likeable, and trustworthy? Does the design help your visitors travel through the page — and the site — in the most useful way? Giving your “About Us” any needed tweaks or refreshing can make a difference in your conversions.

I’d like to express my thanks to Dr. Hapgood and his students for allowing me to share their designs with you.

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