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About pages are a fantastic opportunity to tell people who you are, both as a person and a brand, why they should care, and how you’re planning to make their lives better. Sadly, it’s an opportunity wasted by most brands who use it only to write generic content about when they were founded, maybe by whom, seldom why, and never about what’s next. Let’s check out a couple of smarter ways to use that real estate.
Disclaimer: As always, the assessments below are my own, given freely and without receiving anything in return. Simply put, I’m not getting paid to praise these people. 🙂
Start with your story
There’s really no better place to start than by writing down your story. Go back in time as far as you need to and find all the little things that have made you or your brand into what it is. Have you started your custom handbag business because you were sick and tired of big, busy, and boring bags and decided you could do better? Cool, then say that. Pour it all on paper and don’t edit a single word until you’re done.
The best “about” stories are those that either lead up to a “Eureka” moment with which your audience resonates, are a relatable parallel that easily explains your brand’s reason for being or make readers question the status quo and look for a brighter future.
I love, Yellow Leaf Hammocks’ About page. Not only is it warm and human but it tells me right away the kind of world they want to help build. They tell an aspirational story that you cannot argue against, frown upon or roll your eyes at. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to make a positive change in the world by relaxing?
LivSo’s story, isn’t as much about the team, how they started out to change the world or the challenges they went through. Their story is about you and their products. And, in this case, it doesn’t really need anything more.
Subtract the clutter
There are likely many twists and turns that have taken you from your high-stress, long-hour job towards your current, more mellow but equally busy-body entrepreneur life. We don’t need the whole story, with all the teeny tiny details. We just need the abridged version that leads us towards why you’ve set up the website.
Tim Holtz’s About page has very little to do about the company, and everything to do with the people behind the brand, briefly touching on the major milestones that laid the foundation for it. It’s not long, it’s not too fancy, it’s not even very wordy. What’s great about it is the very human personal comments from each of the people in the team, especially Tim’s quote.
In a world where the moments of our lives can be captured and created in art of the everyday, it’s important it reflects our own unique personality…
It’s inspiring and, if you’re even marginally familiar with their products, you’ll immediately connect the dots between his statement and the way their products work. There’s no set word count you need to reach for this to work. If all you have to say is 75 words-worth of why we’re here, that’s perfectly fine.
One of my absolute favourite About pages is Humaan’s fantastic mix of creative imagery, very human and straightforward descriptions of both the company and its people, clever use of statistics and the lists of DOs and DON’Ts, that perfectly work together to illustrate a really cool group of humans. It clearly outlines who you’re working with and what to expect, and I strongly suggest you visit their website for the whole experience.
Whether we’re talking about a business or a personal brand, multimedia is a “must”. It breaks up heavy copy, it helps you reinforce concepts through visuals and, most importantly, it helps you be more human. Let’s check out Amy Porterfield, who does a wonderful job at portraying her entire self throughout the About page.
Now, I’m not going to kid you. This is a long one. Event though it’s 1,087 words-long (6,262 characters), it’s anything but boring. Broken up into clear sections, with a well-defined focus and a corresponding image, Amy’s About page takes us from her corporate beginnings, through her challenges, all the way to how she’s managed to put together a business that helps every one of us do the same.
Break the mold
A lot of businesses with a long-standing tradition tend to convey their decades of experience through long, heavy copy. Boooring. An already widely-used and much more effective way of accomplishing this is by using a visual timeline, like MOZ.
A little less boring, right? It does force you to condense the information into what’s truly a milestone in your company’s growth, though. Want to take it a step forward? Expand all of those key milestones on hover or click to provide even more engagement and information. You can even make a huge print-out of it, put it in your office and encourage your employees to add photo thumbnails where they joined for a quick and easy way to make sure they too understand the company’s evolution and how important they are to its growth.
Sometimes, your entire company history might be way too much information that you really don’t need to accurately convey the hard work poured into your business by generations of talented and committed people.
Like in the case of Honka, 57 words and a 45-second video can do more to explain who you are and what you’re doing than 300 lines of text scattered along a squiggly timeline. This leaves Honka quite a bit of page real estate they can use to talk about the homes they build and how safe and comfortable it is to live in them.
Weave the story
All the examples we’ve gone through are stories that have already been woven so its can be a bit tough to see how we get from scribble to final copy, picture and video all laid out nicely in an About page. We’re also very visual creatures so it’s really hard to not think in sections or layouts. But we need to try our damnedest because exceptional About pages are a result of a very old but very true principle – Design follows content.
You need to start with the content – the story. If you’ve got a good story, you’re 90% there. Once you’ve poured it all on paper, start to tweak it, removing the clutter, adding pictures to convey feelings, condense information, express your personality, breaking the text into sections that lead your audience towards your reason for being, and create impactful videos that cut down on written copy.
The Bottom Line
About pages don’t have to tell your entire life’s story, just the bits relevant to your website or blog. It’s intended to show people who you are and why they should care. You know what? You don’t even have to call it an About page.
Like Tom Waits, you can use the quirks of the brand you’re building to your advantage. Instead of a long-winded copy, his Wit & Wisdom page pours out quotes, random facts, bits of lyrics from his songs in a wonderful, timeless mix of funny, weird and informative that couldn’t be more Tom Waits if it were his mirror.
Long or short, wordy or image-filled, colourful or spartan, the most important thing about your About page is for it to be About you.