I came across an excellent article by Brian Clark on his Copyblogger blog about – well – about pages. In fact, it is more than just the page, it is about communicating with your reader to inform about your blog. I will take the liberty of extending this to a generic website.
As a user of any website, I am entitled to know certain information about it. As technical as it can get, I am going call it the metadata of the website. The Metadata gives the reader a vision of the website, its basic purpose and principles. It leads to a guarantee-like contract about the theme and the subjects that will be tackled. It can be the first step towards engaging the user. In addition to this, the about page can also mention the intended audience, or the expected skillset of the audience. As said in the article:
As an information delivery platform, a blog only has value in what it can teach. A compelling “About” page must communicate in no uncertain terms what the reader can learn and why it’s important to them.
The article uses Darren Rowse’s About page as an example, but also warns against overshadowing “About the blog” by “About the author”. Darren’s case might be an exception since the blog is about himself. He acknowledges on his own blog.
The About page can also be considered to make the website more usable. Certain evaluation tools do consider the About page when evaluating a website. As I have written about earlier, the website should also provide a Help page that can guide the user around the website.
The Metadata is useful as a guiding light even to the owner/author of the website. I liken it to the vision of any project. A website with a purpose has to stick to its agenda, the moment it starts digressing it is going to start losing its customers.
Feel free to take a dig at my About page. I will try to take the advice given by Brian and your comments and update it accordingly.
Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.