79

Why would I want a tab for "meet the team"? Why would users even care about the people working there?

I just want a working piece of software and thats good...right?

about us

Usually it looks something like this but with text telling people their background.

  • 23
    ego, empathy, content? – Midas May 4 '16 at 22:07
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    Very good question. To be honest, it actually puts me off a company. Also, videos of staff members enjoying work, laughing and smiling, etc. make me highly suspicious. – user28987 May 5 '16 at 12:08
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    What would you expect instead when visiting "About us", given that you "just want a working piece of software"? – unor May 5 '16 at 12:30
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    @camden_kid That's an odd viewpoint. Do you want the staff at a company you do business with to look miserable? Happy staff are usually more competent and efficient staff - qualities which are important to both the business and the customer. – JBentley May 5 '16 at 13:24
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    @JBentley It's more the thought that having to show off how happy the staff is implies they aren't actually that happy, especially when such photos/videos look staged (which may not have been the intent, but pessimists do exist). – JAB May 5 '16 at 14:05

13 Answers 13

101

Another reason kind of related to some of the aforementioned ones probably has something to do with establishing Character. These pages, when done well, can communicate a good deal about the culture and people who work at the company. Are the C-level folks blazer-wearing middle-aged men? Or are they 20- and 30-somethings with tattoos and goofy photos?

As much as we all try to avoid it, we form a lot of opinions (both good and bad) based on what people look like. That can drive a powerful connection if you're a customer (supporting people who seem like-minded feels good) or a potential employee (you obviously want to work with people who seem like your type).

  • 37
    +1 for mentioning recruitment, which is AFAIK the main reason my employer has this. That is, "I just want a working piece of software" might be true of the questioner but it's not true of all the real or model users that the site is trying to address. Some of them want a job. The employee profiles don't just say what kind of person each employee is, they also talk about their (hopefully attractive) career paths. – Steve Jessop May 5 '16 at 8:14
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    +1 because this, as a user, is what I look for in such a page. I want to know "who" the company is, exactly. Are we talking about a humongous company, where it would be extremely difficult to layout their entire staff, even their executive staff? Or are we talking about a Mom-and-Pop shop, where I'd like to see a picture of the Mom and the Pop? – Jake May 5 '16 at 17:42
  • In addition to @SteveJessop 's point about hiring, it might also include being hired - i.e. many companies would want to project an image that helps them get projects / contracts etc i think. – kabZX May 7 '16 at 5:01
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    It's also about showing that the company is "big enough" - for businesses, they want to know you have 10+ employees and aren't just two guys who'll go on holiday for a month. Equally they want to know you have some sensible looking managers, some "innovator" type younger-looking staff etc... it's all about perception – Jon Story May 10 '16 at 14:34
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    Just as we UXers have personas to model interaction mindsets, there are also things known as Buyer Personas, and part of that is understanding Buyer Modalities, of which one, Humanistic, looks to these kinds of details when considering whether to do business with them. – Erics May 23 '16 at 8:34
71

I think the comment "ego, empathy, content?" by @midas deserves some elaboration, because it is actually a pretty good answer to the question:

  • Ego: it is our company, and putting my face to it shows people that I am the top dog and the boss of all these people.
  • Empathy: this is who we are (not just a piece of software), get to know us and you'll believe what we are selling you as well
  • Content: don't know what else to put up there, but this was kind of easy to code
  • Transparency: this is who you can point the finger at (or send an email to) if things don't work out; we stand by our products and don't hide behind call centre operators

There are lots of other explanations as well, and depending on how the page is designed it may convey some or all of these things.

  • 3
    +1, transparency is also a key one! – Midas May 5 '16 at 6:52
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    All of these are phrased from the point of view of why the company would post such a page, not why users would want it. – PLL May 5 '16 at 8:35
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    Transparency is a big one - if you have an issue with their product and support isn't helpful, maybe you can find a developer's twitter and explain the problem directly :y – recognizer May 5 '16 at 18:45
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    @mikryz I don't believe that's necessarily true (maybe for some), but I know many companies that use the empathy/transparency to show that have better service. I.e. "We truly care about you unlike those bix box brands, we offer you lifetime product support and 1 on 1 help"... – DasBeasto May 5 '16 at 20:12
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    @PLL It is easily rephrased to fit that - that we can trust a business because they stand by their product, etc. – Zach Saucier May 5 '16 at 20:59
63

Different audiences want different things.

You're assuming these pages are for average customers:

Why would users even care about the people working there? I just want a working piece of software and thats good...right?

...but those aren't the only people viewing a company's website.

A well-run website design process begins with an audit of all a site's intended users and their particular user needs. Depending on the company this may include:

  • Potential business partners or clients. Small in number, very high value, these will want to gauge the size, skills, areas of expertise and levels of capacity and flexibility of the company (particularly the senior specialists), plus whether they seem like people they can do business with.
  • Job seekers. Either responding to an advert, pro-actively looking for a company like this one, or having encountered the company through networking or similar, they will often want to gauge if this is the sort of company where they'd fit in.
  • Investors, lenders, banks etc. Similar to potential partners, these will want to gauge the capabilities and viability of the company. Possibly more interested in the upper management and their track record.
  • Press. If your company does something remarkable, journalists on a deadline will appreciate being able to copy and paste some quick facts that flesh out the story of the company, or that give its claims and comments credibility.

...and so on. Consider also, conference organisers, people following up on encountering a company rep at a networking event or trade fair, bulk buyers, etc etc.

Some company sites will have such user needs, some won't.

If one does, and the site's designed well, this kind of information will be somewhere the above groups can find it easily, but which isn't in the way for average customers who only care about the product.

  • 3
    Yes - as a job seeker I do actually look at these pages: have the execs worked for companies I've worked at? have I heard of them? do the programmers look like people I'd like to work with? Sometimes this page is squirrelled away in the "careers" or "jobs" section - but frequently not. – davidbak May 6 '16 at 16:40
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    The part about job seekers and business partners is what I searched for before posting it as an answer myself. This answer -to me- is probably the closest to why I think companies create pages like these. – Stephan Bijzitter May 7 '16 at 16:33
  • When someone I know tells me to check out a company as an employment possibility, I'll head to the “About Us” page first, generally before I bother to see what is the product. – Morgen May 8 '16 at 18:26
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    Very much this - one of our products' particular selling point is that it is produced by highly educated and experienced professionals in the field - our audience are health and medical professionals, and they want to know about our staff's qualifications. – HorusKol May 10 '16 at 1:57
  • It also helps work out who to target sales calls and emails at. Once you've worked out the company's email format it's then easy to target emails. Which probably is a negative aspect of having it... – PhillipW Sep 21 '16 at 8:43
36

Because people do business with people, not with faceless algorithms and the marketing presentation of any given product needs to reflect that. If your product faced a robot, it would just be raw code (like mark-up for an search engine spider) but your product doesn't - it faces a human being who needs to be satisfied on a human level; faces and the humanisation they bring are very good at that.

We are essentially great apes and as such are a social order. They respond to a detailed range of facial expressions of which, for humans, the smile is one of the most important on a fundamental level. Human brains actually have areas that respond specifically to faces and by presenting them on your website you are taking advantage of this biology.

A face will immediately give you a whole raft of stuff that you'd find very hard to do with text, virtually impossible to do with an algorithm and difficult even to do well with visuals / sound.

Another good example of this in action are automated call centre responses - everyone wants a human being and hates the mechanical automated responses!

  • 1
    +1 for the first paragraph, -1 for "people are monkeys" and that leaves me not voting. ;) – Wildcard May 6 '16 at 2:34
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    @Wildcard people are a specie of great ape, you're right, edited :-) – Toni Leigh May 6 '16 at 6:13
16

On our clients CPA Accounting website, "Meet The Firm" is the 2nd most visited page on the site, right after the home page. They use it as a recruiting tool.

Are these the type of people I want to:

  1. Work for as an employee
  2. Can I trust these guys with my sensitive tax data
13

It can create confidence in your company, by showing that it has humans running it behind the scenes. I find faceless websites in some ways untrustworthy, as you can never tell if its just a one man band behind the scene. I guess someone could fake the about page but usually the biographies on about pages link to LinkedIn or Twitter to show a real human is there.

  • 2
    This IMO is one of the most important reasons, from the customer's perspective. The worst websites in terms of appearing trustworthy are the ones where you can't really tell who they are - no names, no postal address, etc. The more identifying information you provide, the more you appear "real". – JBentley May 5 '16 at 13:29
  • +1: Even when consumers download a piece of software, they want reassurance that the software will be maintained and updated. Especially if they - say - make a living of the software and invest many hours in the software. The about us page is a very good place to verify if the product has a solid foundation. – wintvelt May 12 '16 at 22:23
6

It's not for you.

It's for the employees!

A little recognition for them. It shows that the company is proud to declare that these are the individuals fulfilling these roles.

Like the credits after a movie — you may not sit and watch them, but they're always going to be there.

  • 1
    -1, this is rarely the reason. – William Edwards May 6 '16 at 9:44
  • @WilliamD.Edwards: In my experience, it's always the reason. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 6 '16 at 10:06
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    and in reality, it's rarely. – William Edwards May 6 '16 at 10:11
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    @WilliamD.Edwards: Would you like to present an actual argument, rather than just bashing me and effectively calling me a liar? – Lightness Races in Orbit May 6 '16 at 10:46
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    check the other answers. This is not meant as bashing btw, if it feels like that I sincerely apologize. – William Edwards May 6 '16 at 11:51
6

Our company has such an "About Us" page in that shows all the employees' names with their photos. When I first started it was a great cheat sheet to help me remember the names of some 60 people.

If all you want is a functioning piece of software, why are you going to the "About Us" page? By your reasoning there should be no job openings on any company web site because you don't want to work there.

4

TLDR:

  • Users feel an enhanced sense of trust in a company, after seeing the "people behind the words." (Provided that these people look trustworthy, which with a professional photograph is relatively easy to consistently "create")

  • An About Us page is very useful to journalists / the press in general, and key figure photographs could be featured in an article

  • "Halo Effect impacts how people gauge websites, even if the assessment is flawed. People tend to make hasty judgments about organizations based on limited information. If users have a good first impression, the positive feelings permeate to other parts of the site. If users have a bad first impression, the negative feelings extend to the rest of the site."

    • This implies that if you have a good looking staff, you can make the halo effect work in your favor (because it could just as easily work against you).

Sources:

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/about-us-summaries/

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/halo-effect/

3

I think that the majority of these sites are usually owned by venture capitalists and entrepreneurs looking to sell the site/company/app or raise capital from investors. In my career of web development the only companies that ask me to put the founders and the management on a page are those who are start-up corporations backed by investors looking to raise money or sell.

In short, these pages are not for the regular site viewer. They are not for the employees. They are for the investors and potential investors.

The reason for adding them is to create value, or the perception thereof. if your CEO was previously the CEO of Apple, then it makes your company seem more viable and more valuable.

3

I can't comment yet, but just wanted to mention that about three years ago we ran an internal review of our organisation's various communication channels.

One of the surprising results was that the great majority of staff in non-executive positions wanted us to include photographs of all executives and higher level staff in all our organisational charts. When we implemented this (something not all execs and above wanted) it resulted in higher engagement and 'buy-in' of the direction taken by our senior leaders.

2

I, too, used to think that teams and employee culture is not really required on a product website as my primary user doesn't care about who made this.

But, then, our analytics show that people have been clicking on team and jobs pages, which tells us that we also have an audience that is looking out to working with us.

To serve that audience with the best experience, we have mentioned the team, culture and working environment on the website. It is important to us that a job seeker gets all the information he/she needs in the most personal way possible.

Also we cannot ignore the audience that is interested in knowing the team behind the products they use everyday.

All of these points make up for a good case for these pages being up there.

0

Very simply put, I would say it comes down to credibility, trust and perhaps even accountability (which contributes to the former). Essentially, for the same reasons you add important people bios to pitches for new business.

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