About Us pages can be a wonderful opportunity to make a company or organization shine but most of them are too often wasted words on a page that no one reads. It doesn’t have to be this way and I’m going to offer a simpler way to help you write a better page.
The audience doesn’t care
In my book and to my seminar audiences, I share a little secret about web audiences—your readers don’t care about you or your company. They care about solving the problem that brought them to their web browser.
This may seem harsh but it’s true. Think about your own behavior on the web. The three characteristics of you and every other person using the web are:
- You are impatient,
- You are goal oriented,
- You scan pages before you read them.
That means you literally have seconds to capture your reader’s attention on the web. Ten to twenty seconds to be more precise. I can cite reams of research and offer years of experience to back up this annoying assertion.
So how do you write a page about your company that will engage your audience?
When they do care about your About Us page
There are only two reasons, in my experience, to even have an About Us page and they’re the same reasons a reader will read the page:
- A company officer lends credibility to the business.
- You use the page in a humorous or engaging way to disarm your audience.
Every page that you write for a website must have a unique purpose. Otherwise, cut it. If someone makes it to your About Us page, they’re looking for something specific about your company that differentiates you from your competitors. If you present a mass of corporate jargon with nothing that engages your audience, they are gone, gone, gone.
If anyone at your company has great credibility in your industry, you certainly want to call that out on the About Us page. Keep in mind that they don’t have to be famous. What you must do, however, is to write about them in a way that supports the idea that your company is going to solve the reader’s problem.
For example, let’s say your company sells cloud services and your CEO was awarded an honor for having created, “2010’s Most Innovative and Reliable Cloud System for Retail.” This would be important to your readership, whereas the fact that he’s been with your company for three years and went to Illinois State University is not.
Citing this award tells me as a reader that your company has credibility in the industry. The fact that the CEO went to Illinois State is neither engaging nor relevant.
What about non-profit websites?
True also for non-profit websites. The About Us page is not a place to laud your officers and staff. It’s a place to tell your readers why those officers and staff deserve to be trusted to solve the kind of problem the reader came looking to solve.
If no one in the company has any particular cred that will help your readers make a decision about doing business with you, work on humanizing the company. No one likes doing business with corporate machines. Your reader is an individual and wants to know that people at your company are real people.
Again, the visitors to your website don’t care about your company. They care about solving their problem. Think about your own behavior on the web and go read some About Us pages to see what I mean. Take along some No-Doz.
We are more open to information from someone we trust. We tend to trust people who are funny. Why? Because it seems like they don’t take themselves too seriously and this indicates that perhaps they’ll listen to our needs.
Some of the best About Us pages I’ve ever seen use humor to introduce an anonymous team that no one would otherwise care about. This approach is disarming and makes me want to do business with that company. It shows they’re not stuffy and that they know how to communicate. Funny is difficult.
Checklist for writing About Us pages
This checklist could be used for writing nearly any page on a website but I’ll tailor it to writing an About Us page.
- Who is my audience?
- What is their goal in searching for websites like mine?
- What differentiates my company from my competitors?
- What do I want my audience to do after reading this page?
Everything you write for the ABOUT page should be geared toward the goal of satisfying your readers’ itches to believe. What they want to believe is that your company is going to solve their problem. Offering credibility and humanizing your staff are steps in that direction.
Crap to avoid on About Us pages
- “We’re committed to…” I don’t care. Show me by the work you do. Words like “committed” have become empty by overuse and under-sincerity.
- “We strive to…” Just strive or show us you have strove. Companies that tell us they are striving sound like they can’t quite get there.
- “Our goal is to…” I want to do business with a company that is already meeting its goals…and its goals should be to satisfy its customers.
Don’t try so hard to convince your audience. Do good work, offer great products and services, and show them how you’ll make their life better. Use social proof that is genuine and means something to your audience. As with every other page on the website, use the About Us page to satisfy your customer’s itch.
About the author:
Brian V. Hunt is the author of the recently published One Hour Guide to Great Web Copywriting: For Business Websites. He believes all web writers should be working hard toward making the web more webular. His website is http://www.brianvhunt.com