A simple structure to take the stress out of your About page

Person in spotlight image

The About page of your website is the place where you talk about yourself, in a way that you probably don’t on other pages. It’s about you – but in a way that serves your visitors.

People get hung up on their About pages, and from what I’ve seen there are two reasons.

  • They don’t know how to structure the information.
  • They have big resistance to showing up. (Especially for introverts, but a lot of people seem to have some of this. I expect it’s partly a British culture thing.)

It’s not that difficult or scary, really. There are lots of ways to write an About page, but let me give you a standard version that will let you get it done and go on to other things.  

Purpose of the About page

We want to see that there are people behind things. Especially if it’s a microbusiness where the person is the business (but increasingly for larger companies too). If there’s no one visible it feels odd and is harder to trust.

A page called some version of ‘About’ has become a standard website feature. You do need one, and it shouldn’t be hard to find because of the link is hidden in an odd place or you’ve called it something non-standard.

It’s part of a conversation; or part of the beginning of a relationship. It’s helping visitors see whether they want to spend more time with you.

When you write it, write conversationally and in the first person (I/me). For a bigger business with multiple staff it may make sense to use a third-person narrator, but if you’re flying solo it’s just weird – who’s talking to us?

Telling your story

A lot of people like to write some version of their story here, talking about the experiences and insights that led them to who they are today and why they do what they do.

That is a good thing to do on this page, and you can dig in to story work, and show how the journey you’ve been on connects with where the reader is now.

But there’s a key principle to bear in mind: the visitor’s attention is limited, and they’re under no obligation to give it to you.

Some of them will become interested in you and want to know more, and for them the story is great. But many simply won’t read a long piece on their first visit.

So take a more strategic approach. Include a story if you can, but don’t make it too long. You’ve always got the option of putting a longer version in a blog post or sub-page and linking it from here.

Put the story under its own heading, lower down the page – don’t open with it.

The snapshot of you

This is what you start the page with. It’s just three or four paragraphs of a few lines each, accompanied by a photo.

The aim is that a visitor can read it quickly, get a decent idea of you as a rounded and pleasant human being, and then jet off again if that’s all they want.

Open with some version of, ‘Hi, I’m [your name].’ Introduce yourself.

Then you can include things from the following list, keeping each one brief and then assembling it into a whole that reads smoothly. It’s just a guide, but include as many as you can. This is not an infodump or confessional; maybe more like sending them a postcard.

  • Where you live (not your detailed address, not least because of privacy, but a town or region that lets them place you in the world – and give your country, because readers might be from anywhere)
  • Family, pets, important people
  • Leisure interests, or other things about how you spend your time (a couple of examples may be enough)
  • Values
  • Background and history – briefly mention a couple of points of interest
  • What led you to the thing your site’s about? (If you use a longer story below, this can be a one-sentence summary.)

There does need to be a photo of you. It can be at the side or full width, but it should be good quality and give off good energy. Usually that means looking at the camera and smiling, but it depends on the message you want to give out. Professional photos by someone who knows how to capture the vibe you want are a big step up from random snapshots.

Conclusion

Hopefully that’s given you a clearer picture of what the About page is there to do and how you can make one pretty quickly that does the job.

If you want further info on similar themes, my Website Foundations product would be a good start. Or get in touch for one-to-one help.

 

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3 Responses to “A simple structure to take the stress out of your About page”

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  1. Nick says:

    Great article Tim, really clear and helpful, and you’re so right about it being the scary one!
    I’m going to have a revisit of my About Page now and see what I have done…

    Nick

    • Tim Gray says:

      Glad you liked it Nick! I find websites bring up a lot of issues like this for people where the business and the personal are closely intertwined.

  2. Caroline says:

    love this insights
    yes make it captivating
    thank you for sharing

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