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From my perspective, one of the most important areas of a website is the About Us page, particularly for local businesses. This will also depend on the type of industry you are in. What I'd like to discuss are the elements that comprise a quality About Us section.
For many of my clients, their About Us sections are fairly extensive. Here's the general structure for most...
Within the /company/ directory we have a root level page that serves as an index for the /company/ area. That page starts off with a Welcome and a short paragraph (160-180 characters) using an Inverted Pyramid [webmasterworld.com] approach. That first paragraph is then followed by a brief history paragraph. Then we move into a paragraph about location(s).
Next comes a paragraph about company personnel. That is followed by a bulleted list of Names and Titles which are linked to full page biographies. Each biography contains a professional photograph (studio portrait) along with the person's credentials. Each biography follows a standard format with room for customization as each biography will have some information that is not common amongst all.
That /company/ directory is the power behind all of this. It serves as the home page for the About Us section. It is the beginning of a collection of documents and should be treated as so. It gets a link from a standard footer within the site. Or, it may even be in a standard header, it depends on the importance of the About Us section. If you are a local business and cater mostly to local clients, then your About Us section is going to play a very important role in your online success. If you are in an industry where large dollar amounts are involved for the purchase of products and/or services, your About Us page is going to be an integral part of establishing that initial level of Trust.
How do you approach the development of your About Us sections? Do you have only one page? Or do you have multiple pages? Have you logically grouped those pages together? Do you have staff biographies? How do you approach the design of those pages?
one of the most important areas of a website is the About Us page
I absolutely agree.
It is also the most ignored under utilised area. Most sites are so busy selling widgets or content they neglect selling themselves.
Study after study throws up 'trust' as a major visitor concern. The 'about' section is often all a customer has other than general site look and feel. Only a few come via a recommendation, most are simple cold calling drop-ins from some SE or, slightly better, a refering site they already somewhat trust. You did mention the trust issue but it needs repeating, perhaps hammer-drilling, to get it through some site owners thick skulls.
I bookmarked your linked IPW thread when I first read it when first lurking. Well worth bringing up again. You have a tendency to start useful threads - good trait in a mod :-)
While my 'about' sections architectural layout and linking varies widely depending on the site and the company size/history (or lack thereof) I have found the following categories cover the necessary information to bring a site and its people to likeable trustable life:
A smaller site simply has fewer categories (i.e. no 'investor' section) while a large site rarely bios its people. Even a one or two person operation can (should) have a half dozen (plus) pages. It is especially important for the new or local or service sites.
When the world is on offer the only way to be unique is to be you so sell/tell about yourself well. People like/trust local (to them) connections so emphasise your locale where appropriate.