While working for one of our clients we faced some confusion about the difference between the terms ‘About us’ and ‘What we do’. Some people are of the opinion that the two terms mean the same thing. Others feel that ‘What we do’ should be under the ‘About Us’ item. Both these labels and their contents provoked an internal discussion. A quick search online returned very little papers or articles on this subject. So we drafted a small survey and sent it around to colleagues.
In addition, we had only two questions: 1. What information do you expect on a government website under ‘About us’? 2. Group the information that you think belongs together. Next label each group and fill, if necessary. Who we are – What we do – How we do it – Where we are – Contact us – Follow us (social media) – Who is who – Jobs – Who we work with – Mission, Vision, Goal Collecting 48 completed questionnaires was quick and pretty straight forward. Processing it was slightly more complicated…
The following figure gives you an overview of all the responses we received to this question. The mind map shows all types of information that one would expect under a heading ‘About us’.
The number in brackets shows the amount of respondents that expect given information under ‘About Us’. We grouped the different terms and named each group with the name used most commonly by our group of respondents.
The grouping of these terms and the labeling was still discussable, but it became very clear that the amount of information that is expected under ‘About us’ is very diverse.
Following graph shows that some people expect following information:
Next, we took a look at the answers to the second question, in order to see how our respondents grouped the information. ” Group the information that you think belongs together. Next, label each group and fill, if necessary. Who we are – What we do – How we do it – Where we are – Contact us – Follow us (social media) – Who is who – Jobs – Who we work with – Mission, Vision, Goal”
As you can see the information expected under ‘About us’ can be very diverse. Here they are (in descending order):
• Who we are
• Mission, Vision, Goal
• What we do
• Who is who
• How we do it
• Who we work with
What most people do not expect here are the following: ‘Where we are’, ‘Jobs’,’ Contact us’ and ‘Follow us (social media). The last four items are typically placed under ‘Contact’.
From this small study we can conclude that what is expected under ‘About Us’ is mainly information about what the company does, who they are, their mission / vision / goal, how they do, what they do, and with whom they collaborate. Contact details are expected either under ‘About us’ or under a separate heading ‘Contact’. ‘Follow us (social media)’ is expected ether separately or under ‘Contact’. ‘Jobs’ is perceived as a separate section.
These are general guidelines. Each case must be evaluated individually. What emerged from the content analysis and user analysis for our client (the requirements definition) which we have performed for them, is that many visitors of the website of the government department search for the information about what the department does. That proved to be one of the main reasons why people would come to the site.
It was therefore decided to give ‘What we do’ a prominent place on the site and place in the main navigation. The background information about the department (About us) was of secondary importance and therefore got a place in the secondary navigation.
Kevin Haveau | 16 January 2014