27 November 14 -

Your About page sucks. Here’s how to make it better (with 9 examples).

Your ‘About’ page is likely one of the most popular pages on your website. But, be honest, it’s quite possibly the one page you spent the least time writing, crafting, or designing.

For brands and businesses, an About page is often just an afterthought, a couple of short paragraphs scrambled together in the inevitable panic before the website goes live. Someone grabs the company bio – usually one that’s been doing the rounds for ages – and hits publish. It’s an approach I’ve seen time and time again during my career in publishing.

But showing your About page some love can mean the difference between making a connection with your audience, and getting them to engage or buy into your brand or business. Or not.

Think about it this way, if people are clicking on your About page, they want to know more about you.

This is a powerful position to be in.

Ditch bland and boring, and give them an About page to remember you by. It can’t hurt, but it can reap benefits.

So, how do you do that? Let’s explore some of the attributes that make a good About page.

6 things you should know when preparing your About page

1. An About page is about you, but it’s not about you…

Hands up who hates writing about themselves? I know I do. People often put off the task of writing an About page because they view it as a shameless exercise in self-promotion – and part of that sentence is true. You do need to be able to promote your brand. But it doesn’t have to be in a “look at me, look at me” kind of way.

No one likes a bore who talks about themselves all the time, especially one who does so in the third person. Rather, your About page should talk about the parts of your business or personality that your customers are interested in knowing. The parts that you feel will resonate with them. Just knowing this tip can take the pressure off when writing an About page.

This is why I make the point that your About page is not about you, but about your audience. Aim to tailor your copy to meet their needs and desires. Think about which parts of your story are relevant to them. Speak in the language they speak.
Example
Is your audience into fitness? Write about how you’ve always been passionate about fitness, what led you down the fitness path in the first place and what personal experiences you can share with your readers. If you’re a brand selling a product, what values are important to you as a business?

If you can express these thoughts in an evocative way, you have a better chance of getting customers to buy-in to your business.

This advice holds if you are a multinational corporation with thousands of employees, or a freelancer out on your own. Your About page isn’t (entirely) about you. It’s about what you can do for your customers.

2. Tell your story.

Everyone’s personal or business journey through life is unique. What’s your story? Consider the history that makes you or your business special, or different, or a bit quirky. Find an angle, embellish it and use it to engage with your audience. (Stick to the facts, though, your story should be honest and authentic, not make-believe.)

It may be that you are a stay-at-home mum who has found a gap in the market for organic baby food, or you might be a big brand with humble beginnings. Describing your personal experiences and the story behind your business helps to create connection, more so than simply big-noting your achievements or stating the facts.

To do this, go beyond historical timelines and facts. Choose two or three life-changing or defining moments and talk about them. Add in some colour. If life has been a struggle, talk about it. If you knew from a young age that you would choose a particular vocation, talk about it. If you are on a mission to change the world, tell us why.

Your story doesn’t need to be too long or detailed (although there is definitely a place for quality storytelling in About pages), but it should be real.

3. Talk like a real person.

You are not a robot so don’t speak like one on your About page. People want to know that there are real live humans behind a business, no matter how big or small it is.

Jargon is another turn-off ­– it masks the real meaning of your words and dilutes your message. Be brutal and edit out phrases or words that don’t feel natural or that you wouldn’t use in conversation. It helps if you have someone you trust to call you out on bullshit – or on the flip-side, advocate for you if you’re not promoting yourself enough.

The best About pages are simple, polished and direct. It pays to be a little funny, too. It’s best to proceed with caution on the humour front, but if you can pull it off it can be an awesome way for people to remember you.

To start, write down the words or phrases you use to describe your business in conversation with the guys at the pub, or when on the phone to your mum, and take it from there. I often use this approach when clients begin talking to us about their business. Finding a gem of a phrase they use in conversation can sometimes inform the direction of copy in an honest way with sweet results.

4. Let your customers tell your story.

You can talk about yourself until you’re blue in the face, but what your customers say about you is gold. This is why testimonials are such a powerful tool on an About page – they cut through the clutter. It’s no wonder this approach has been milked since the dawn of marketing.

If you have access to testimonials or reviews, then use them to your advantage on your About page. By including a testimonial, you’re still promoting your business, but you’re doing it through a voice other than your own. Life can get pretty monotonous if you speak in the same way all the time. Adding colour through testimonials on your About page supports, enriches and gives your story depth. It helps builds trust among your audience.

But a word of warning: people are increasingly suspicious of testimonials these days. Reinforce them using a company logo. Better still, a headshot of the person giving the testimonial, maybe with a link to their website or Twitter/LinkedIn profile. For the ultimate impact, a video testimonial is best.

5. Think visual.

A pure text-driven approach can work, especially if you’re a masterful storyteller and have an interesting angle or hook for your About page on.

However, images, infographics, video or podcasts can have even more impact, helping you stand apart from the crowded throng. To feel they know you, people want to see you.

I’d go so far as to argue that a (well-shot) image is mandatory. Plenty of businesses get away with using stock photography, but these days people are savvy enough to spot a soft-focus stock image from a kilometre away. If you have the budget, it pays to invest in quality professional photography.  High-quality imagery is something you’ll find multiple uses for, not just on your About page, but across other media platforms, too.

Using visuals on your About page harks back to my previous point: it lets your customers know there are humans working behind the scenes; it forges a connection; and it makes you real.

6. One last tip… Include a call to action.

Your About page is the perfect page to get your audience to connect with you. It’s simple really – all you have to do is ask nicely. Extend an invitation to sign up to your newsletter, like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn. For a useful list of tools, check out this excellent article on WordPress plugins by the guys at Buffer.

By reading your About page your audience has taken the time to get to know you. Don’t let the opportunity of potentially capturing their details go to waste.

9 examples of effective About pages

Here are some examples of great About pages. We hope they get you thinking about your own page.

1. Gomacro

Why it works: It’s resolved.
In interior design, the term ‘resolved’ is often used to describe that feeling you get when you walk into a room and all elements come together to create a space that feels effortless. It just works.

Gomacro’s About page is a brilliant example of a resolved approach. It uses strong visual cues across the design, imagery and words to capture the principles and essence of the brand. It’s About page is big on conviction and delves deep into the founder’s personal history. Amelia’s struggle with breast cancer, her desire to eat well, her need for a sweet treat – all are likely to resonate with people wanting to embody a healthy, natural approach.

The best thing about Gomacro’s About page? It’s interactive. Making the user click to learn more means they are more engaged in the process. They are likely to actually read something that they have clicked on, rather than scanning a page of text and not taking any of it in.

One last point, like the majority of About pages we’ve included here, the Gomacro page is written in the first person. It’s intimate. You feel you are part of the story. As a business if you can harness that feeling, people will (eventually) sit up and take notice.

2. Miss Chu

Why it works: It’s personal.
Miss Chu is renowned for her empire of seriously delicious Vietnamese ‘fast-food’ restaurants, built on a foundation of hard work, creativity and nous. And Chu’s About page is no different.

Front and centre of this About page is a stunning, theatrical photograph of Miss Chu, resplendent in her role as ‘The Queen of the Rice Paper Roll’. But scroll down further and you’ll see an even more powerful image – the refugee visa Chu and her family arrived on in Australia in 1975, after escaping the Pathet Lao regime in Laos and living for four years in a Thai refugee camp.

Chu’s About page is enriched by her story – a tale of a strong, independent woman expressing her creativity through her restaurants. The focus of the About page is firmly on Chu’s business but it is injected with a big dose of her personal history. The narrative is a bit bossy, a bit authoritative, but like the rice paper rolls she is famous for Chu’s About page is dripping with flavour. It’s also extremely personal – and that’s why it works.

3. Moz

Why it works: It’s different.
Our SEO expert here at August, Rowan Barnes, loves this About page. Why? It’s a little bit special, a little bit fun and a whole lot different to how most businesses typically present their company history.

Businesses that have been around a while can use their history to their advantage – it tells customers that you’re not a flash in the pan, that you’ve done the hard yards and have lasted the distance.

A graphic timeline, such as that on Moz, is also a great way to promote your achievements, without being too overt. You can celebrate the small quirks or life-changing moments, be a little bit humorous, and still highlight the important stuff, like awards, or important business announcements.

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4. Business Victoria

Why it works: It’s refreshingly direct (for a government site)
Government websites are notorious for ‘government’ speak – that mix of passive voice, jargon and politically correct phrasing. The Business Victoria website gets big points overall for its straight-up, user-friendly approach, and its simple and direct language.

Its About page is no different. It lets you know the website’s purpose in five bulleted points. It avoids dense descriptions so people can quickly verify if they are in the right place. It uses question-based subheads so people can self-validate. That’s it. No fluff, just a simple direct approach that’s refreshingly different to most government websites.

5. Rosella

Why it works: It creates a value proposition.
Rosella is an iconic Australian food brand. It’s About page is clean, functional and gives the reader a true value proposition: by supporting home grown, you are supporting Australian farmers and manufacturers, and safeguarding jobs.

Rosella is passionately Australian – and this shines through in the copy and imagery on its About page. But like the classic Aussie battler, the brand has survived despite hard times. Somehow, knowing this just enhances the Rosella story, rather than detract from it.

(Disclaimer: Rosella is an August client.)

6. Bellroy

Why it works: The video.
Bellroy sells wallets but not just any old wallets – these are slim and sexy. Its About page is simply designed with video front and centre, inviting you to delve in and take a look. Text is kept to a few short paragraphs with a well-positioned call to action to join in the community.

Beautiful, scripted and articulated video is expensive to produce, and Bellroy likely spent a small fortune on its production – and other videos on the site. It’s worth it, however, because the results are polished and professional. Note, too, that while central to the premise of the video, product placement doesn’t occur until you’re a fair way in. The video hooks you in first, and keeps you engaged, before revealing how the wallets are designed and made.

Video is an awesome way to tell a story on your About page – the perfect medium to show rather than just tell people about your business.

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7. Teehan+Lax

Why it works: It’s about you.
Earlier, we talked about how your About page is about you, but not really about you… If you want to see this approach in action, check out Teehan+Lax’s About page. The digital product agency uses pointed phrasing to identify a need, such as: “You have products and services but want to create demand for them. We believe that you create demand by being useable and useful to users, not annoying them with banner ads.”  Teehan+Lax give you specific case studies as further examples of their credibility and substance and to highlight their skill and capacity.

In another flourish, Teehan+Lax include a long-form narrative on the story of their company. It’s a beautifully written history studded with examples of success, but also of failure and the things they learnt as a business along the way. It’s long, which may discourage some readers, but they’ve made the text easy to scan using images, pull quotes and graphics. It takes the concept of an About page to the next level. And, it gives you confidence that these guys know their shit – because they’ve lived it.

8. Blacklist

Why it works: It’s bold.
Blacklist takes a graphic approach to its store About page. As an online boutique selling prints, wall hangings and cushions, Blacklist is bold enough to eschew convention and scrawl poetry on its About page in bold black marker.

One line in particular describes what they do beautifully. Blacklist don’t just sell stuff, they’re “Memory makers of the ordinary”. As a customer this tells you that you’re not just buying a cushion, you’re buying something special. You’re making a lifestyle choice.

It’s a brave approach and one to steal if you’re in a creative field and want to go all out.

(Note: Blacklist’s design studio takes a more conventional biographical approach.)

9. Jardan

Why it works: It’s authentic.
When you buy Jardan furniture, you’re purchasing a piece that’s designed and handcrafted here in Melbourne with plenty of love and care. This is furniture that’s built to last.

In this day and age of flat-packs, that’s a compelling story to tell and one more and more people are gravitating towards. Jardan tell it to great effect on their About page by giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what life is like on the factory floor. They do this through authentic imagery. The images support the copy, so you’re not only reading that every piece of furniture is crafted by hand, you’re seeing it.

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Applying these tips to your About page

The About examples we’ve highlighted work because the businesses and brands behind them have taken the time to understand their audience. They have tailored their About page specifically to their customer – whether that be through video, infographics, evocative imagery or plain old text.

So, when it comes to producing your About page, consider these six key things:

  1. Write for your audience. Remember your About page isn’t really about you. It’s about what you can do for your customers.
  2.  Tell your brand or personal story. Make it real.
  3. Talk like a human. Use the words your customers use. Speak conversationally. Avoid jargon.
  4. Take your customers word for it. Harness the power of testimonials or reviews to give your About page credibility.
  5. Think beyond text. If you have the wherewithal, use other mediums to enliven your About page.
  6. Include a call to action. It is a fantastic opportunity to forge a connection.

Go on, give your About page some love

Your ‘About’ page is likely to be one of the most popular pages on your website, so it pays to give it a little love. Do it a little differently. Shake things up. Take some time to make it special.

Your reward is the possibility of connecting with the person who has come searching for you.

Do you have any other About pages you think are awesome? We’d love to hear about them.