So this post is a little overdue. I am trying to at least get a post up every week but sometimes life just gets in the way. You know how it is, or maybe it’s just me.
Anyways, late in April, Webdesigner Depot published a great article on ‘About’ pages. It applies to both businesses (small and large) and personal or freelance websites. It seems that many people put a lot of effort into the content of their service offerings and portfolios but then just throw together an about page just to have it there. Kind of like adding it as a formality but not putting a whole lot of effort into it. At least not as much effort as most people do for the design or portfolio of their site.
Here’s one thing that never made sense to me: people make websites so others can find out more about them, but most “About Us” pages absolutely suck. They’re either really long and boring or really short and mysterious. Not many people understand the best way to go about these pages.
In order to help you make ‘About’ pages that suck less, the article goes on to talk about the following points:
- Find out what your users care about
- Using the right voice
- Not using this page as a sales tool but more of a relationship building tool
- Adding personality through images
- Building creditability for your services
At the end of the article there are also a number of great examples from different websites to see what works and why. I particularly like the examples because of how it describes what is great about the about page. If nothing else, I would at least take a look at these just for inspiration.
Putting Knowledge to Practice
After reading the article, I took a good hard look at my own about page. I know it worked and did what I wanted but I was never really happy with it. It just always felt like something was missing and that it was just another big block of text no one ever read.
So I took a step back and drew out a plan for how I wanted to revise the page. I knew it was a little wordy so I took the advice from the article and followed some of the examples provided to simplify my message. A lot of what I previously had was describing my history and background. Now, I have always thought about adding a timeline to my page and this seemed like a great way to make that background and history content easier to read, more visual, and also allow me to move it out of the main content area.
Next, I wanted to increase readability. I know the optimal line should be about 50-70 characters wide and that my page was spanning a little more than that. I decided the best way to minimize the content width was to add a column that would hold my additional information (past projects, quotes, and anything else that would help show my personality). I also really liked the idea of starting the page with a larger one-liner that clearly stated who I was and what I did. This way, anyone visiting the page would at least know what I am about just by reading that one line if nothing else.
Under the main content, I kept the skills and abilities area as I think this is important for any personal or freelance site. This page is basically an online résumé after all.
With all my content developed, I just spent a little time finessing the details and ended up with the about page you see on this site now. Here are the before and after shots to help see the differences.
I didn’t show the whole timeline in the after image since it’s unnecessary for the purpose of this article.
The page is no longer intimidating to read with a bunch of text and is easier to skim to find information about me. It may not yet be perfect but websites are living things that are always evolving. At least I feel this change is a step in the right direction. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!