Want to make a big impact on your website at no cost?
Give its introductory “About Us” page a dramatic makeover using this two-part article. The chances are good that it needs one because after reviewing over 300 About pages, I saw only a small number that were effective.
Why The About Page
Because not only does it get a lot of traffic, but it gets a lot of the really good traffic, such as potential members, current members looking to get more involved, and organizations that could become allies. That kind of traffic means more opportunities and revenue for your union if you don’t screw it up.
Another reason that the page is important is that it can provide the first impression of your website to visitors.
These examples illustrate the point. They are the results of Google searches for two unions. As you can see, Google lists the About page as a link so that the user can go directly to the union site via that page, bypassing entry via the homepage.
Why Most About Pages Fail
a. Organizations often don’t realize that the “About Us” page is not really “about us”
It’s about the reader. Visitors routinely view the About page through a lens of “what can you do for me?”
Some come to the page with bias and preconceptions, such as that union membership equals strikes, coercion, and high dues.
But instead of creating a page that focuses on the visitors’ concerns, most About pages often deliver dry organization facts at the cost of connecting with the audience.
But enough about us—let’s talk about you. Whether you own a business or manage email newsletters for clients, you need an email–marketing service that takes care of the complicated stuff so you can focus on your job.
b. Most About pages are not stylized to mesh with online users’ behavior patterns
Writing for web audiences is a completely different animal than writing for captive offline audiences. Because web users have short attention spans and distinct scanning habits, writing for the web requires special considerations.
Quick Note About This Article’s Structure
Part I (below) gives tips on four of the more visual areas: stylizing, typography, images, and look and feel.
Part II addresses the content and conversions.
1. Stylize Your About Page For The Web
Stylizing is important when writing for online users, who are mostly scanners, because it helps to lead them along the page.
The Web Style Guide explains this concept well:
On the web, more than any other prose medium, the look of text layout strongly affects how readers relate to written content. The contrast produced by headlines, subheads, lists, and illustrations give users visual “entry points,” drawing their eyes down the page and into the content.
If you give visitors a sea of visually monotonous text, most will quit reading it early.
Online users have too short of an attention span for pages that don’t appear to be easily digestible. Check your union website’s analytics and you will likely find that the average time that a user spends on a page is extremely low.
Capitalize on the short attention span by providing little interruptions from standard text. Use bolded words, pictures, icons, subheadings, and italics to get people’s eyes to stop during a quick scan.
Here are five “About Us” pages that are stylized well. You can click on the images to see the pages in full size.
Five Tips To Help You Better Stylize Your Page
- Try to avoid stringing two paragraphs together without some stylizing
- Use bullet points for long lists of benefits
- Keep paragraphs short – roughly 50-70 words is a good rule of thumb
- Use subheadings so visitors can quickly get an idea of the content
- Use icons to signal meaning to visitors, while adding variety to your page
2. Get The Typography Right
Good typography is almost universally ignored by About pages. It’s a shame because it can add value to a page in two primary areas: readability and psychological impact.
Do your website visitors a favor, especially for those who are older, and use typography that will reduce squinting and fatigue. If you don’t, you risk losing their attention.
To highlight the impact of typography on readability, I’ll do two quick case studies.
Case Study 1
Immediately you can see that the second paragraph is more readable than the first.
But why is that?
Three reasons: font size, line height, and line length.
The first example uses a small font size of 11px, has a line height of only 13px, and employs a line length of roughly 160 characters.
The second example, however, uses the same font, Arial, but at a size of 14px, a line height of 21px, and a line length of 100 characters. The result is a paragraph that is more relaxing to read and doesn’t fatigue the audience, though I would use a darker text to improve contrast.
Case Study 2
Let’s look at Bloom Health’s page for an example of a site with a great overall design but poor readability. The page suffers from low contrast, a small font size, and a letterpress style, which is an eyesore when there are multiple paragraphs of it.
Now compare that to the About page of the Writers Guild of America East (below). The WGAE page is easier on the eyes because of the high contrast of the black text, red subheadings, and white background.
Five Tips for Improving Your Page’s Readability
- Increase your font size if it’s below 14px
- Increase your line height so that it’s 50% larger than your font, e.g., 14px font gets a line height of 21px
- Change the font color to a darker one if it’s light
- Decrease your line length if it’s more than 100 characters
- Pair fonts effectively
Typography is much more than just improving readability. It can change the entire mood and tone of a page.
Check out these words from Grip Limited’s About page. I’ve put them in the box immediately below without any fancy typography and then I’ve placed a screenshot of them in action on Grip Limited’s page.
Smart seasoned people get to better ideas faster now, takes those individuals – from every discipline – and put them under one roof. And what you get is amazing ideas unparalleled efficiencies big cost savings, and, yes, better business results
Now that may be a bit extreme for your union’s About page but the point is that creative typography offers you limitless options to visually engage your audience.
The following three About pages are examples of creative typography. You can see the pages in full size by clicking on the names.
Here Are Three Typography Tutorials To Get You Started
3. Use Pictures To Humanize Your Page
It’s surprising to see only a few unions use images in their About pages. Photos are an easy, effective way to bring an About page to life.
The About pages of the NY Taxi Workers Alliance, AFSCME, and the United Steelworkers use images well, each in their own way.
Three Ways That Sites Use Images Effectively
- They use at least one big, high resolution image
- They use images that visitors connect with, such as of people like themselves
- They use images that generate emotion: a dramatic photo is more likely to connect with visitors than one of people posing
4. Create A Style That Matches Your Audience’s Preferences
Most About pages have this in common: they have the same muted professional look and feel. The web audience for a union representing scientists probably shares different personality traits and preferences than the audience for a performing arts union.
Align your page’s colors and look and feel with your audience’s preferences. A radical, charged audience might prefer bolder colors and a louder typography, whereas an audience that is accustomed to a calm environment might prefer something more low key.
Get a free review of your “About Us” page! E-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll help you turn around your ineffective “About Us” page and increase conversions.