What’s the purpose of an “About Us” page? Is it about you, or your visitors? Is it filler copy pushed out just before you launched your site, or a carefully planned story that brings people in and makes them want to help your cause?
Hopefully, you’re in the second group. You’ve thought long and hard about your About us page, creating a storyline that’s as much about your visitors as it is about your site. You’re using your About page as the document that defines who you are and how you’re different. It’s a positioning statement, a mission statement – even a worldview. All in one.
Or maybe not. Unfortunately, About us pages tend to be woefully neglected. Most of them are a mere 1-2 paragraphs, apparently typed out fast just before a site was launched. And that’s too bad. Because for most sites, the About us page is the second-most visited page on your site. Yup – after the home page, the next busiest page is your About Us page.
A lot of people are looking at those two flimsy paragraphs you wrote so long ago. And they are making the decision about whether to stay on your site or not based on what they read there.
Despite the dire warning, this is actually good news. If you’ve got a weak About us page, improving it just means your business will do better. And if you’ve already got a good about us page, making it into a thing of beauty will kick things up a notch.
Think like your website visitors
The first thing to do to improve your About Us page is to change your viewpoint. Instead of looking at your page the way you would, look at it the way your site visitors would see it – or better yet, the way your ideal customers, readers, or clients would see it.
Not sure how to do that? Sometimes the best way to force yourself into this is to imagine you’re about to speak to these people. Imagine you’re standing just off-stage, about talk to a room full of them. What would you say?
If that’s too stressful to imagine, scale it down. If you were about to sit down and talk to your ideal customer over coffee, what would you tell them about yourself?
Consider separate About Us pages for different types of visitors
The first stumbling block people run into at this point is defining whom they’re talking to. If you’ve got multiple audiences (aka “marketing personas”) that you work with, then there’s the challenge of talking to all those groups at once.
If you’ve got big aspirations, you may have other audiences to consider:
- Prospective Employees
Some companies don’t specifically have pages dedicated to those four groups – but many do. Beardbrand, for example, has broken out their About Us page into four different pages – including one for media inquiries.
Visual Website Optimizer has a separate page for its partners.
Larger companies and organizations, like the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, go so far as to have separate information pages for their Board of Directors, their investors, and their staff.
Not sure who your visitors are?
It’s great if you’re in the league of sites that want to attract investors and media people. But usually the problem people run into here is that they never defined their audience well enough in the first place. Of course, it’s a good idea to do that before you launch your site (or even go into business), but this still happens. A lot.
Again, don’t fret. If your understanding of your audience is hazy, this is the ideal exercise for you to do. So ask yourself a few questions:
- What do your site visitors struggle with the most?
- How do you think you can help them?
- What are they most likely to be interested in?
- What are they least likely to be interested in – what are they really sick of?
- How is what you’re offering different than all the other people in this niche?
- How can your audience see you’re different – what can you show them or tell them that sets you apart?
- If you had to explain this site in just a few words, what would you say? For instance, “It’s This Old House meets small business marketing”. Or “It’s social media marketing for minimalists.”
Just answering those questions will go a long way to help you write a better About Us page. In fact, you could probably just lay out those questions in FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format, and you’d have a better About us page than most sites.
As you write those answers, always be thinking about how your audience will view them. Remember: They’re always asking themselves, “What’s this got to do with me? How can this help me?” Also, try to use a conversational tone as you write for them. Write like you’d talk to them if you were sitting over coffee. Stiff, formal words rarely convince.
Format your page for scanners
The same rules of website copy that apply to product pages and blog posts apply to About Us pages, too. Most people won’t read your About Us page – they’ll scan it. So use all the standard conventions web writers use for scanners:
These are a time-tested, simple way to direct different groups of visitors to different parts of the page. So if you don’t really want to have multiple About us pages – no worries. Just break your About us page into sections. We’ve done this on our own page.
- Bullet points
Got any sentences with lots of commas, listing multiple items? Those might work better as bullet points. Bullet points are also good for listing company goals, or as a punchy way to show how your company is unique.
- Images and video.
We’ll talk more about these in a moment, but please – have at least one visual element on your About us page. Online readers get turned off by too much text.
- A call-to-action.
Again, we’ll get to this in more detail in a moment, but do include a call-to-action on your About us page – either to join your email list or to complete a contact form.
Include photographs – and even video
As mentioned just above, it’s essential to have at least one photograph on your About us page. And please – don’t make it a stock photo.
At the very least, there should be a photograph of your Founder (or Founders), like Copyhackers has done here:
Notice the layout of this About us page. It lets you get to know the Founders in a very simple way – by showing how long they’ve been copywriting, by what they think the world needs more of, and other concise but revealing information. Then they go right into testimonials. It’s short and simple, but this page gets the job done. Of course, the photos help, too. Without them, this page wouldn’t work nearly as well.
If you just can’t bear to have a photo of yourself, consider these alternatives:
A crowd of your employees.
This is the classic About us page photo. It’s an excellent way to give a snapshot view (sorry for the pun) of who your company is.
The front of your store.
This one’s ideal for local businesses, but it’s also good for any business that even occasionally has clients or customers come to their home base. Got more than one location? Great: Show photographs of those locations, too.
Photos of people around your office.
These can be of employees or of customers. Ideally, they’ll be casual, with good lighting, and done on a day when everyones’ desks are relatively clean. These types of photos are also super-important for prospective employees, so keep that in mind as you take them.
Your company mascot (or mascots).
Some company cultures fit with this better than others. But I have seen detailed About us pages that had nothing but pictures of employees’ dogs.
Every about us page needs a few photographs. Real photographs – not stock photos.
Include a way to opt-in to your email list
Funny thing about About us pages… they’re also great for list building. If you don’t believe me, try it. Add one (or even two) opt-in forms on your About us page. You can squeeze them in between paragraphs, or add just one opt-in box at the bottom of your About us page, like Fizzle has done.
Track the sign-ups from this specific page by copying your default opt-in form, then renaming it with something like “About page”, so you’ll recognize it. You may be surprised – some sites get up to 10-20% of their opt-ins just from the About us page.
It’s time to treat your About us page as if it was a core element of your site – because it is. You’ll never have a better opportunity to really show who you are as a company, or even as an individual.
Your About us page needs to have enough information so people can really feel like they’ve gotten to know you by the time they’re done reading it. That doesn’t mean it has to be a 5,000-word essay, but it does mean you give enough information so people feel they can trust you. And the more they trust you, the more they’re likely to do business with you.