Making About Pages work harder
What are you about?
What do you believe in and why?
I write a lot of websites and About Pages are generally the runt of the litter, treated as afterthoughts.
My mission: DEBUNK
Imagine this: You’ve just discovered your next favorite backpack, ethically sourced deodorant, or finally found that service provider you’ve been looking for to take your business to the next level.
You got a feel for what they are selling on the home page and you’re scratching your chin, interest peaked.
But who are these people?
Do you want to give them your money?
Do you like them?
Your natural next step: pop on over to the About Page.
It’s clear the company has placeholder copy from 5 years ago, an extended bio of the founder, or a convoluted origin story that involves a garage and a pet rat.
You’re now a bit more skeptical about this new amazing product you found.
You can’t really decide to trust them or not yet, and it takes a lot more scrolling and investigating to make a decision.
Or you just leave and find something else.
We’ve all done this dance without even thinking about it.
I’ve had so many moments of being seriously excited about a company but when I get to their About Page I deflate like a sad week-old birthday balloon.
No one really cares about bios or origin...at least not at this point in their getting to know you journey.
The About Page is one of the most visited pages on websites, but they end up being afterthoughts or dead ends.
Why is this?
I think one reason is that it’s devilishly hard to write about yourself. It can feel icky, egotistical, and damn tricky to determine what’s important to talk about.
So you just kind of crapshoot it.
Why does the About Page have to be about you?
In fact, it shouldn’t be.
When you first discover a new company it’s like the beginning of a conversation at a networking event.
We’ve all met those people who talk incessantly about themselves for about 5 minutes before going wide-eyed and stutter “Oh - what do you do? I forgot to ask.”
You feel unseen, unheard, and generally annoyed that you don’t have a way to get out of talking to that guy.
That is what most About Pages feel like.
“Oh - I forgot to ask.”
It’s one of many pet peeves of mine as a conversion copywriter.
If the About Page is a top visited page, why are we not trying to convert people from it?
Imagine if we started treating About Pages like Sales Pages.
A Sales Page has a clear purpose: to make a sale. It’s strategic, well thought-out, and conversion-focused.
Businesses spend a ton of dough on Sales Page so they can make even more dough.
About Pages need a clear purpose that goes beyond “Oh…so…we got started by inventing things in our parents’ basement…”
Another reason why we should approach About Pages like a Sales Page?
Because there is a ton of research on how to make high-converting sales pages.
No need to struggle to re-invent the wheel for your About Page.
I personally am a big fan of the PAS model for Sales Pages: Problem, Agitate, Solve.
Let’s do a quick refresher.
Step one: Problem
If you jump immediately into the specs of the products - how it can fit into your pocket and you could throw it against a brick wall and it won’t break - you’re dropping important features without a lick of context.
Why does this person need something small and unbreakable?
What are they struggling with and need help solving?
Beginning with that is your hook - the emotional problem a customer is having.
Starting with the Problem creates an immediate connection and “oh, they get me” moment from the customer.
Step two: Agitate
Great, you’ve got them hooked. You’ve reminded them of a problem they have.
Now you have to agitate and explore the pain point a little more.
You need the reader to be nodding their head in agreement with your copy. This is your section to really pull the customer into your company ethos.
“Yes, I DO feel that!”
“Yes, that’s SO TRUE.”
That’s what you want here.
Step three: Solve
The customer is seriously agitated and the tension is rising. Now is your chance to resolve that tension.
Now you are allowed to talk about your product or service, showing them how it solves the various pain points outlined above on the page.
Ideally, the potential customer is breathing a sigh of relief.
“Oh finally, this is what I’ve been looking for.”
Last: give a solid call to action.
Sign up for your free trial
And voila. A Sales Page.
If PAS is a strange acronym, you can always imagine Sales Pages as a washing machine.
Dirty clothes (problem)
Wash cycle (agitate)
Fresh smelling t-shirts (solution)
...that might be an even stranger way to remember it...but whatever works, works…
Putting PAS to work on an About Page
All right, you know what PAS is and why About Pages need to be approached differently.
Ready to roll up your sleeves?
The number one thing you HAVE to have
An About Page is a company’s chance to not just focus in on a single product but on their entire philosophy and reason for existing.
Every business exists to solve problems for their customers.
About Pages should zero in on the big problem the company is trying to solve.
They are the best opportunity for the business to connect their personality with their value.
A washing machine isn’t solving the issue of dirty clothes - it’s freeing up time so people can be together and not stuck in the laundry room hand washing underwear.
A dryer does the same trick, and more than likely one company makes both of these.
The big problem this company is solving is time: time spent with family, friends, or watching Netflix.
It takes a lot of work to truly hone in on the big problem you are trying to solve, so please don’t cut corners on this step. That big problem should be the point at which your company pivots and anchors itself to.
Take your time researching, discovering, and doing your due diligence.
A few tips and tricks
We all have bullshit radars when we see barfy marketing language on About Pages like
“We empower our customers”
“We help you be the best you can be”
“We offer innovative and creative solutions”
If you find yourself falling into this trap and don’t know how to get yourself out of it, prove those statements.
What does empowerment look like for your customers after working with you?
What does innovative and creative mean?
Then take the answers to those questions and use that in your copy instead of “we help you find your purpose” or “we treat our customers like family.”
Back it up
An About Page should have testimonials, mini case studies, data proof points, and awards.
Show off what you can do and why you can do it.
You have to back up your words.
Using data points will also help you with the bullshit test.
About Pages can easily turn fluffy, but putting in hard facts grounds them back in reality.
Have one main call to action
Pleeeeeease don’t have a dead end About Page, or just throw people over to your “Contact us” page.
Where do you want your reader to go after they read it?
It’s good to have a couple links out to the rest of your website based on the sections on your page, but don’t overwhelm people with options.
Have a set goal for your About Page, just like a Sales Page.
Do you ultimately want them to shop, sign up, or register?
Decide this before you even sit down to write.
It will help guide and focus you.
About Page Breakdowns
We’ve covered why About Pages are important, the basic structure a great About Page should follow, and a few tips and tricks in writing them.
Let’s look at some About Pages in real life to see these tips in actions.
I love this About Page because the header has three calls to action to get a customer to continue shopping.
Way to make sure your About Page isn’t a dead end!
They immediately hook you with their tagline: “Bold products. Big events. Better ways to help others. Gear for good.”
It’s clear they are targeting a middle-to-upper-class buyer that cares about sustainability and ethical practices.
Problem: What do they sell? Are they ethical?
Agitation: Cool, they seem ethical. But do they do more than just making good products that are sourced ethically?
Solution: Ah, yes. “Better ways to help others.” Must have more of a mission than just cool sustainable products.
And that’s just in the header section.
Scrolling down they hit upon everything a socially conscious consumer would want to know: mission, giving back, design, production, and at the very end they hit on the origin story.
Cotopaxi certainly didn’t bury the lead on their About Page.
Their lead is their mission, not their origins.
Anecdotal case study:
After reading their About Page I actually bought one of their bags. I am NOT an impulse internet shopper, but they sold me so well on their story that I went out of my way to look for something to buy from them. Then I went an bought a new winter jacket too…
Software as a Service (SAAS) companies take a slightly different approach to About Pages. The page isn’t necessarily in the main navigation header, as their customers care most about how the software works, pricing structure, and features.
That being said, the About Page should still follow a Sales Page model. SAAS companies rely on converting customers online, so every page should be hyper-focused on that.
Intuit - developers of turbotax, quickbooks, and mint (to name a few) - has an ok About Page, though it could use some love.
“Your prosperity, our obsession. We are laser focused on our customers. We live and breath innovation. We champion those who dare to dream.”
Remember my tip on marketing buzzwords? I don’t think Intuit got the message.
The first tagline is somewhat clear - they exist to help their customers make more money (I think).
But they don’t really define what ‘prosperity’ means. Is it money? What is innovation? How are they championing dreamers?
Ah, I see. I have to scroll down past the fold to get to the real hook: “more money, more time, more confidence.”
This page is a good example of what to lead with.
If they had led with “more money…” users would immediately understand what type of prosperity Intuit was talking about.
It would get that prized gut reaction from the reader.
But instead, they went with buzzwords like ‘innovation’ and ‘dare to dream.’
This happens a lot with About Pages - the hook is usually actually buried somewhere deep in the text.
Take a step back when you’re writing your page and make sure you aren’t leading with fluff, but with real actionable solutions.
(don’t worry, I got Jay’s permission to break it down)
I wanted to make sure I got a personal About Page breakdown in here. It’s a bit different when you’re writing an About Page for one person instead of a company. It’s immediately more “bio” driven and in my opinion, tend to be incredibly boring.
Jay’s Bio page shocks you immediately.
“I once ran an organization into the ground.”
I’m so hooked. I have to read more because this guy seems to have a lot of clout, but he’s leading with a failure? Interesting…
That certainly seems to be a Problem with a capital P.
What follows is little mini PAS models showcasing his organizing, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills.
This bio page is refreshing.
Using visual cues to show what is the problem and what is the solution, Jay has created a great scrolling experience that also links you to other parts of his website, ie it’s not a dead end.
What I wish is that he was a bit more selective in the things he highlighted. It’s a great scrolling experience but I’m left at the end thinking “damn he does…a lot. Maybe too much?”
And there are just a bit too many opportunities for me to jump away from the About Page - what does he really want me to do?
If you’ve made it to this section, I’d like to congratulate you.
I write a lot of About Pages. I love them. They are my favorite page to write.
I get to stretch my storytelling muscles and conversion techniques at the same time.
It means I have a lot of opinions and quite a few ready-for-action mini-rants on the subject.