About Us pages have a tendency to stump people. It’s the equivalent of the job interview question, “Tell me about yourself,” and seems to elicit the same amount of dread. Talking or writing about yourself isn’t as easy as it sounds when you consider the task: where do I begin, what do I leave out, and what will make me stand out to other people?
As one of the first stops made by a website visitor, the About Us page can also be one of the last pages to get much love from an organization. If you’re stuck on how to write an About Us page, we put together some tips to see this for what it is: an opportunity to say what makes your nonprofit distinctive.
What Your About Us Page Shouldn’t Be
It’s easy to throw together a list of all the great things your page should be. The About Us page is all about the getting-to-know-you stage, building rapport and making a memorable impression. But knowing what makes it NOT so great can be just as helpful. Let’s take stock of what your About Us page shouldn’t be to give you a clearer picture of what it should look like.
A Dumping Ground
Unfortunately, the About Us page can become a dumping ground for a lot of things. Ditch the kitchen sink mentality and avoid cramming everything into this page. Your annual report, financials, mission statement, staff bios, and history will likely warrant their own place on the website as a separate page. Keeping these from creeping onto the page can also ensure you don’t dilute their respective importance by cluttering them together on your About Us page.
Make the page very clearly about you in the strictest sense: who you are, who you serve, what you do, and why you do it. Think high-level and stick to highlights. You’ll get a chance to get into the history and all that other good stuff in subpages. But this is really an opportunity to drive home exactly what you do in a memorable and meaningful way.
If you take a look at other About Us pages, you may notice that some nonprofits frame this section in a slightly different way. Some call it “Our Story,” “Who We Are” or simply, “Learn.” I like this approach because all of these iterations convey the same intent in a different way: find out what we’re all about.
While you personally don’t have to change your page name, thinking about it in the spirit of these alternate terms could help you get in the creative space to (re)think your approach. Avoid the boilerplate stuff and make the page reflect your nonprofit’s personality and values.
In the Background
Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the best location of the About Us page. This relates to a general disagreement on its relative importance. Some organizations make it prominent on the main website navigation while others think of it more as an afterthought.
If you think of your nonprofit’s story as just that – a story that has a beginning, middle, and end – keeping it in a linear fashion (where About Us is your introduction) can go a long way. Avoid the whole cart before the horse thing. Even if your nonprofit has amazing results to highlight on the website, people should be able to get to know who you are first.
All Content and No Visual Interest
Your About Us page is a chance to tell your story, and it’s likely a really good story that could be enhanced with some visual aids. Don’t discount the impact of visual storytelling and its ability to present your nonprofit’s story in a more compelling way. While good content is still essential on your About Us page, sometimes its role is to just be supportive and contextual to the visuals.
Think Show and Tell. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Consider sprucing up the page by injecting some photos, graphics, or a video. The Nature Conservancy does all of this really well on their About Us page. A three-minute video captures their story, and compelling stats capture the scope of their work. Their headings of what they do and why they’re successful break up the page and give visitors different, digestible ways of learning more about them.
Lengthy content doesn’t always translate into lasting impressions. When you’re thinking about how to write an About Us page, avoid the long-winded version of your story. Wordy content makes it more challenging to convey the type of information that visitors will remember in a meaningful way. People want to know what your nonprofit is all about, but they don’t have all day (or the attention span) to get acquainted.
Keep your content compelling, but keep it concise. Stick to the elevator speech/pitch, but in written form. Write the content as if you have to sell your organization in the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator. Be persuasive and hit all the high points of what makes your nonprofit so great and distinctive.
Download the Essential Content Checklist
Wondering what should be on your nonprofit’s website? Get our content checklist for essential and common web pages, like Financials, About Us and Get Involved.
Thinking about how to write an About Us page starts with who you’re trying to reach. Remember that your page should cater to two types of audiences: people who don’t know anything about you and people who want to learn more about you. A solid About Us page reels in both types of people in and conveys just the right impression.
Have any other suggestions or tips for writing a great About Us page? Does your nonprofit have an awesome About Us page you want to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.