I visit a lot of startup websites. A lot. And as a journalist, I am perhaps more prone than others to click on a company's "About Us" page. Of course, my motivations for doing so typically involve finding pertinent facts and figures, FAQs and anecdotes to round out a ReadWriteWeb story. But I don't think I'm alone in my desire for company websites to do more than just talk about the products they offer.
While it's well known that investors care a lot about the composition of your founding team, arguably visitors to your website - customers and potential customers - are also interested in reading more about who you are.
An "About Us" page is a good way to provide this information and to assure people that your company has the experience and the skills to meet their needs. And your "About Us" page should answer these questions:
- Who are we?
- What do we do?
- When did we start?
- How do we do it?
Typically, an "About Us" page contains a company description - "here's what we do" - and company mission - "here's why we do it." But it's just as important to highlight the team - "here's who we are."
That "who" should include images (photos or avatars) and biographies of key members of the team. The biographies can highlight educational background and work experience. Clearly, if I'm visiting a website that offers financial services, I'd like to see that the founders have degrees in something other than Folklore. If you offer marketing services, a background in marketing helps. If your startup has a particularly compelling story or angle that adds to your uniqueness, make sure you tell it.
Not everything on an "About Us" page needs to address the business world per se. I am intrigued that Infochimps' COO once operated a tugboat. And I like knowing that Learnboost's developer can be tracked down via his Foursquare check-ins (perhaps that information should be mandated for all developers).
For most people who interact with your website, this may be the opportunity to really humanize your company. You don't want to waste it.
Six Revisions argues that the people who click on the "About Us" fall into three categories: first-time visitors, regular users, and people who want to work for you. When it comes to "About Us" pages for startup websites, I would add to that list "potential investors." In all these cases, you want to be able to provide enough information to convince visitors to become users, fans, investors.
Granted, not every visitor to your website is going to click on the "About Us" link. But for those who do, you want to be sure that the content on that page really gives an insight into not just what products your startup offers, but who your startup is.