7 About Us pages worth critiquingDecember 3rd, 2016 9 Comments
I don’t normally publish guest posts, but when a friend of mine, David Garden, sent me the below, I thought it was worth making an exception. He’s dug up some interesting About Us page examples, with a range of pros and cons.
Over to you David…
As you know, about us pages are important. Maybe even very important. Seems that visitors have been conditioned to seek out ‘about us’ as a way to orientate themselves to a website.
But what separates the good about us pages from the great? The mediocre from the memorable?
Like trying to drink from a fire hose, I’m going to spray a treasure trove of great examples at you. Buckle up. And try not to drown!
First off, a confession. I have a marketing crush on ME.
Bank marketing has traditionally been super conservative (i.e. boring). ME used to be boring too, but recently became less so. As Wikipedia explains, “Members Equity Bank Limited re-branded to ‘ME Bank’ in 2009 and later to ‘ME’ in 2015.”
Here’s their About page (click/tap to zoom on any of the examples below):
Aside from their overall marketing being fun, their about us copy has plenty going for it:
- Starting with the ego-stroking: “Every Australian deserves to get the most out of their money” the copy masterfully sides with the reader. This continues with phrases such as, “We were created in 1994 to help everyday Australians reach the dream of owning their own home” and “We help Australians get ahead.”
- To show that they’re not like those boring banks, they throw in, “And now we’ve been awarded Australia’s best bank in 2016. Not too shabby, right?” Love that. Not too shabby indeed.
On the downside:
- “Every Australian” is impersonal. I’d rather see them address “You” in the first sentence.
- It doesn’t give any information about their backing or whatever. People need to know their money is in safe (read ‘established’) hands.
We move on from banks to bums. And who knew dunny paper could be hilarious? The three guys who founded ‘Who Gives A Crap’ apparently did. Here’s their entertaining page:
A couple of noteable noteables:
- I like the way the founders photograph draws you into the headline (because it is positioned like a photo caption), which draws you into the subheading. And it ends with a question that – you guessed it – draws you into the body copy.
- Their about us page is an example of great storytelling. Humor, social conscience, company history and product diversification are all carefully interwoven. When you finish reading, you can’t help but want to buy your next batch of loo paper from these likable larrikins.
True to their name, Frank takes a really straight-up approach to their copy:
Frank’s copy is a mixed bag. There’s stuff we can learn – positives and negatives.
- They start by empathising with the reader about how unlikable health insurance is.
- Their use of contractions is well executed.
- The last sentence: “It won’t make you love us, but at least you won’t hate us” is a clever ending and leaves you with a smile on your face.
- The first sentence is grammatically incorrect (for no good reason).
- “Like any other insurance in life, there are…” is a clumsy construction.
- I’d like to see the second para divided into 2 sentences.
- “You can be confident that you’re…” The “that” is redundant and clunky.
Powershop’s about us is low on word count but still packs a punch.
Here’s the good stuff:
- It leads with benefit after benefit – “know exactly how much electricity you are using and what it costs” … “help you save” … “we care about the environment” – even though the sentence is grammatically incorrect. More on that later.
- The other copy feature worth a mention is the way it expands on the two main selling points of Powershop – green energy and control over bills. Powershop knows what their customers want and so they keep a narrow focus on highlighting those benefits.
And the not so good:
- It’s not clear what “100% online energy retailer” actually means.
- “You are using” should be “you’re using”, and “We are” should be “We’re”.
- Their use of commas and “and” suggest that “give you control”, “help you save” and “we care about” are 3 items in a series introduced by “We want”, but they’re not. Only the first two are. And if you remove them, you can see why the third isn’t. i.e. “We want to and we care about” doesn’t make sense.
Again some really good stuff on Love Tea’s about page:
What’s to like with Love Tea?
- It has good rhythm due to all the ‘lists of three’ used.
- The about us page moves on to highlight three selling points, before finishing with the business’s history. The overall page structure is good.
- I reckon the best copy is the last sentence: “Today Love Tea is a humble business, run by a small group of dedicated individuals, who strive to offer exceptional tea with purpose.” Sounds like a good place to buy tea to me.
What’s not to like?
- The copy starts with how they work, not what they do.
- They use lots of big words – a cardinal sin in copywriting. Short words are best.
- Similar to Powershop, some sentences are grammatically correct. For example, “We hope our tea inspires you to make time to appreciate the quiet moments, take care of your health, and to share great tea with the people you love” isn’t right. The second and third items should both have a “to” or neither should. i.e. “to take care…” and “to share” or “take care” and “share”, not the mix currently there.
Bespecd’s about us page is an example of good copy and bad design. The ALL CAPS combined with light grey text make the copy VERY HARD TO READ. But that’s not the copywriter’s fault!
It’s a real shame, because copy like this gem is hidden from sight:
- “By making affordable the same high-quality frames you would see in a designer store, we aim to make them something you update as often as your outfit. An eyewear wardrobe if you will.”
On the flipside:
- I think the “window to the soul” analogy is clutching at straws. What does it even mean, “frames … with cherry-on-top”?
- Thanking Mad Men and Geek-chic makes it sound really juvenile. Like they’re following superficial trends not owning their style. Which is completely counter to the window to the soul thing.
- The constructions are clumsy, eg. “My making affordable the same…”
What could have been rather ho-hum (after all, it’s just a salad shop) is brought to life with humour and a play on words.
Here’s a sample:
- “After quite a few too many super-sized feasts, the boys were hurtling down a greasy slope to super-sizing themselves. They loved the big portions but wanted something healthy too. Why couldn’t you get something filling that was also good for you?
- Landing back on Aussie soil with excess baggage to shed, they knew they needed to lead the change. Epic, Sumo-sized portions of healthy, wholesome fast food, with a big taste to match. The first SumoSalad store was born in Sydney, 2003 and people went nuts (and grains) for it.”
- The copy also provides a sense of scale: “Over 100 stores later and with international locations in New Zealand, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, South America, and the USA, SumoSalad is tossing up the fast food industry leaving tomatoes, lettuce leaves and cucumbers all over the place!” This helps to build trust.
Yet there are a few things that could be improved, including:
- The second and third paras aren’t tight enough. I like what they’re doing, but it’s not quite there.
- “We’re also” and “too” is used in the same sentence.
- The last sentence doesn’t flow or fit. They could have landed the copy better.
What did we learn?
A great about us page informs and persuades. It dispenses the facts while moving the reader to act. A memorable page is likely to end with the reader responding to the call to action – whatever that happens to be.
The other thing we learnt is that copywriters don’t operate in a vacuum. Copy is wrapped in design. And design lives inside a strategy. Copy is interdependent. If the design and strategy suck, the copy will suffer.
What did you learn from these examples? Which one is your fav and why?
Please comment below with your thoughts. I'm not so old a dog that I can't learn a few new tricks!