Full Circle Communications

February 2012
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past issues
Scan past issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.

ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.

Writing "About Us"

little houseWhy did your organization begin? What was your first job in your field? What compels you to continue?

People like reading about other people. One place they do this is in the "About Us" section of your website. Your challenge is to provide information so potential customers and partners learn about your credentials, but also to strengthen your brand through language and tone.

As web strategist Erika Dickstein commented to me, "The best 'About Us' pages give the viewer not just the information, but a feel for the company. The strongest companies have thought through their 'essence' and can distill it online."

A few suggestions for your "About Us":

1. Start with the basics. It should answer--
  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • When you started doing it
  • Where you do it
  • How you do it
2. Offer different levels of detail. The casual skimmer should get an idea of what you do, while those who need more information should be able to drill down to greater levels of detail. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen suggested these four levels a few years ago. I think the advice is still useful:
  • Tagline on the home page: A sentence or two about what your organization does
  • Summary: A paragraph or two at the top of the "About Us" page (often in a larger font or somehow set off from the rest of the text)  
  • Fact sheet: A section after this top-level summary with facts (either as a narrative or a bulleted list)  
  • Detailed information: Subsidiary pages with biographies of the leadership, financial information, or other background.
3. Adjust the tone. You'll use a more formal "establishment" tone if your target audience is Fortune 500 executives versus fellow creatives. (Check out some of the examples below to see what I mean.) No matter the tone, make sure your content is accurate, correct, and not insulting to anyone.

4. Look at others. As you plan your content, review the "About Us" sections of competitors and of organizations/partners to whom you want to appeal.

5. Use SEO keywords. Include two or three keywords (more likely, phrases) in the headings and/or text that people may use as search terms.

6. Make it easy to find you. A common complaint about "About Us" pages is the difficulty in finding an email or phone number to follow up for more information.
Examples of "About Us" (or "Me")

Below are examples of specific "About Us" and "About Me" sites. Some are quirky, maybe too quirky for your purposes, but all convey personality.
This microfinance organization offers the different levels of detail, personal touch befitting the cause, and original ways to provide facts and figures. 

Nike has a great "About" with its mission and history. However, to me, it is hard to find from the main Nike site. (Very bottom corner of the footer on the home page). 

I like how this site does more than "sell office chairs."

To marry content with design, look at these four "best of" compilations (thanks to web strategist Erika Dickstein for pointing them out to me)

Best practices for Effective Design of "About Me" Pages

40 Groovy Examples of About Me Designs

Great Examples of About Us Page Design (although their own "About Us" is blah!)

30 Beautifully Designed About Us Pages
As for individual sites, she suggested:

An e-marketing service like Constant Contact with a distinctive brand

She pointed out the baby pictures to me

I like how the site deals with the company's culture and values

Full Circle Communications, LLC / Alexandria, VA / 703.212.0349