Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Highly Nerdy Former Journalist Explains the Difference Between an About Page and a Services Page

Whereas an About page is all about establishing brand and tone and giving readers a full journalistic sense of the company as a whole, a Services page is essentially a list that shows exactly what the readers can get from said company. Think of the About page as a news story, and the Services page as a grocery store aisle.
An About page should always and forevermore be called an About page. Links to the About page should read "About". The About page should be accessible from anywhere on the website, via a link at the top and/or bottom of the website. Don't hide your About page as a needle in a haystack.

The About page must contain a bit of prose that conveys the journalistic Five W's and H of the company - Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. Often these terms overlap, but make sure each of the Five W's and H are touched on in the About page. Sometimes the 5WH must be conveyed in the design, rather than in words - or in both. You need to give a clear, vibrant picture of the company here - quickly and in a highly readable manner.

  • Who is the company? Are you tech consultants, green thumbs, an artist? Name names, if you can. Include headshots, if possible. Give a sense of humanity by using a distinctive style and voice.
  • What is the company, and what does it do? Is it a law firm that specializes in helping their clients to not get fleeced in a divorce? If you sell widgets that nobody understands, what the hell is a widget? Make readers "get it" quickly.
  • When was the company formulated, how long has it been in operation, how fast does the company deliver services? Readers need you to give them a sense of the passing of time. It makes them feel safe. I don't know why. Just include the element of time, somehow.
  • Where is the company based? What geographical region does it serve? If the company is decentralized, you still need to mention place names or. We still live on Planet Earth, and so people need a sense of place.
  • Why does the company do what it does? What drives the people behind the company? What is the mission, the aim of the company? What is its purpose, its raison d'etre?
  • How does the company deliver services, how does the company operate, how can a reader get the company's services right now?

The Services page is a list, period. When someone clicks on a link that says "Services" - and it should always be called "Services", by the way - they are looking for a list. Therefore it must contain bullet points, headings, and other dividing methods.
A list contains nouns. The nouns can be expanded upon if necessary to explain unknown terms. Include all of your services. If some of your services can only be explained after speaking with a client, or if your services are far too numerous to include every last one of them, you must add a paragraph of prose to give readers a general idea.

Include also an action step in the Services page. This can mean linking people to the Products page, or to the Contact page. (Better yet, include contact info on every single page of your website. Don't make people strain to reach you. Just be there for them every step of the way.)

About the Author: Will Conley is a copywriter and former journalist whose high school "College English" teacher made fun of him until he learned the meaning of "parallel sentence."