Most websites have an “About” page. Most About pages suck. There are five reasons why yours might be one of the sucky About pages.
Not enough info
Do you want to know what’s silly? An About page that only has one photo of you and your contact info. You know what that is? It’s a contact page. Call it as such and stop getting your readers’ hopes up that they will actually learn something about you.
Too much info
Most readers who go to an About page are going there because they want to learn something about you that is not covered elsewhere on your site. If you are a service provider, chances are this potential client is a busy individual and is collecting information to make an informed decision. They don’t have time to read your entire memoir or history. A 3,000-word treatise that covers everything from how you came up with the name of your company, to the anecdote about how your mother used to fill your lemonade stand coin can with dollar bills to make your stand look “busy,” are terrific stories to tell. Maybe one of them belongs on your about page. But if the reading time of your about page is more than two to three minutes, break off a good chunk of that mini-Wikipedia entry and create a sub-section called “What’s in a Name” or “Lemonade Stand Stories.”
The average reader can read about 200 words in a minute, so divide the total word-count by 200 to approximate the reading time. That means that 3,000-word About page would take approximately fifteen minutes to read!
Not reflective of who you are
Over the past eighteen years, I’ve served a lot of professional artists (e.g. photographers, filmmakers, event planners, designers, etc.) These are small businesses where the personality of the owner will be a key selling point. Their business is personal and they provide services to a sophisticated clientele. Those potential clients want to know what it will be like working with you. Are you fun? Serious? Do you have funny anecdotes about lemonade stands (that aren’t too long)?
If your About page sounds like the boilerplate template that came with that Wix or Squarespace website you purchased, it sucks. Make it personal. After reading it, I want to know at least a little bit about what it will be like working with you.
If your home page tells part of your story, don’t put the same information on your About page. If you want your home page to be your “About” page, then do that. But like I mentioned above, the potential clients coming to your site are busy and are trying to make an informed decision as quickly as possible. Don’t make them read most of the same info about you or your business in more than one place.
I understand that this is a subjective quality. Depending on what it is you’re providing, the content on your About page may be ecstasy to one set of people and the equivalent a half-bottle of Ambien to a whole other set of people. However, my 30+ years in the professional world has shown me that regardless of what you offer—even if you think it’s the most supposedly “boring” product, service, or information—you can tell your story in such a way that will engage the reader. Don’t believe me? I have one word for you. “Hamilton.”
Don’t feel bad if your About page sucks. Mine does too! But, in the immortal words of Jules Winfield, “I’m tryin’ Ringo.”