About Pages that Serve and Surprise
Ten people in Canada have done a great job using effective about pages to build interest in what they do. Readers know real people wrote these stories.
I collected these effective about pages to give private clients a few good ideas about how they can up-level their websites.
None of these pages are perfect. As a writer, there were several copywriting and grammar mistakes I itched to correct. One person has too many capital letters in the text. Many of these pages would work much better with improved formatting and structure.
Still, all of these pages work beautifully despite their flaws. Each of these authors excels at what they do. Each person describes their expertise in a way that makes readers understand that there’s a real person behind their stories.
I don’t know any of these people. My opinions about who they are and what they do are limited to what’s reflected on their about pages. Still, after reading these pages, I feel like I’ve already met these people in person. I want to see them again.
Those are the best emotions anyone can have after reading an awesome about page. More than anything else, an about page invites someone to connect.
Here are my favourite Canadian about pages, so you can meet these people too.
Ten Fabulous About Pages
Environmentalist Howie Chong looks very approachable on his about page. Normally, I encourage people to divide ideas up into multiple sentences but I like Howie’s statement about what he does anyway. This single sentence somehow encapsulates his past, present and future all at once.
Holding environmental degrees from both Yale and McGill, I’m currently a campaigner at Stand.earth, where I use digital tools to marshall popular power to fight oil and gas projects and protect forest ecosystems.
The photo of him teaching a class on the Antarctic Peninsula also gets points. I want to go there.
Ottawa Law professor Adam Dodek gets full marks for putting a personal touch on his professional academic about page. The third sentence of his long page says:
Are you planning to write a book?
Join the Notable Nonfiction community mailing list to learn about my four-step process to writing a book quickly and easily.
I love teaching and have been fortunate to teach so many great students at the University of Ottawa and before that at Osgoode Hall Law School and at the University of Toronto where I began my teacher career before moving to Ottawa. One of the highlights of my career was receiving the Capital Educators Award as one of the top teachers in Ottawa in 2012.
This is after he begins telling us he is a proud Canadian, teacher, scholar, husband and father. There are many many professional qualifications on this perhaps-a-touch-too-long page, so it’s impressive that the few personal touches stand out so strongly. I want to interview this man for my podcast.
An infographic about the 12 benefits of creativity on her about page provides everything I want to know about Toronto-based teacher Sylvia Duckworth. My favourite benefit is:
Creativity allows you to enter your happy zone and have fun.
I can’t say anything more meaningful about her wonderful masterpiece.
What is it about young people these days? They all seem to know how to insert their personalities into their web pages. Ottawa-based Hilary Elizabeth has an about page for her photography service that makes me want to hire her. Then again, she wrote:
You’ll catch me singing along to country music anywhere I go, and will probably see me singing and dancing along to your music on your wedding day. I’m a quieter person, which helps me to blend in on your wedding day to be able to capture those special candid moments between you and your loved ones.
This really speaks to me, but maybe it’s because I love country music too.
Blogger Corbin Fraser describes his passion for backpacking throughout Canada on his fun irreverent about page. My favourite sentence breaks all the rules in terms of length and grammar, yet still tells a compelling story that makes readers want to connect to this charming young man.
Coming home to the prairies took some adjusting, it had been nearly 5 years since I spent an entire winter in the -40 to -50 degree cold; however, being centrally located in Canada has allowed me to quickly hop, skip, and jump from province to province with my now fiancé and cover more of Canada.
Kitchener Ontario-based Sarah Granskou presents musical theatre. Her skills include fiddle, mouth-harp, music, puppetry, spoken word and textile artistry. She describes her training in a single captivating paragraph on her about page.
Growing up, Sarah’s awareness of her heritage manifested in food traditions, a few Norwegian swear words, and an imitation Sami hat which was worn on birthdays. Granskou’s first profound experience in Norway was, in fact, amongst the Sami reindeer herders of the North, where she learned their wordless singing. Then, with her great-grandfather’s fiddle in her backpack, Sarah traveled extensively on ski, hut-to-hut in southern Norway.
I hope she performs in Montreal so that I can easily attend.
T. Erin Gruber
Visual artist T. Erin Gruber lives in or near Edmonton but travels across Canada to design theatre sets, make costumes, produce visual displays and take care of lighting. Her about me page reigns as the most complicated of those listed here, but it includes awards in all four of her specialties. Her description of how she handles lighting reads like poetry.
Colour, contrast and dynamic angles are the most noticeable aspects of my designs. Driven by adaptability – a desire to balance projected media content – means my work is about highlighting action and controlling focus.
This text also clearly demonstrates her workplace philosophy. Add that to quirky photos and an easy-to-read format sets up the entire page for impact.
Third-generation real estate broker André Major has been working in his industry since 1978. Given that expertise, it’s impressive that his about page contains only six brief paragraphs.
His most impressive project appears in only two sentences, but they are so complete, his expertise shows through.
For six years until 2016, I applied my accumulated experience helping the City of Ottawa as a real estate acquisitions consultant for the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) project. My primary focus was team negotiations related to integrating the 6 tunnel station entrances with adjacent office and retail buildings.
That job could not have been easy. André, congratulations for describing a lot of experience in a pithy paragraph.
The about page of Pemberton native Naomi Prohaska proves what an outstanding story and a superb photograph can do. This 16-year old is the youngest person ever to climb Mount Logan. Here’s how she starts her story.
My name is Naomi Prohaska and I would rather be in the mountains. I am 16 years old and live in Pemberton BC Canada. I have been so blessed to grow up in such an active community. Pemberton is a 30 minute drive from Whistler BC, one of the best places to ski in the world. Keep going south and you reach Squamish, one of the best places to rock climb in North America. I am surrounded by such incredible sports all the time. I have grown up in the midst of boundaries being pushed and records being broken.
Naomi will climb Denali this coming spring. Expect great things from this young Canadian.
With his about page, Victoria-based professor George Veletsianos demonstrates how you can take a typical academic bio and make it read as though a real person wrote it. Every sentence describes extraordinary accomplishments in a straightforward way that anyone can understand.
My favourite statement describes what Veletsianos does.
My research aims to understand and improve teaching, learning, and participation in emerging digital environments. I achieve this by examining the practices and experiences of learners, educators, and scholars with/in online learning, social media, and open education/scholarship.
If you want a traditional about page, this is a good model. Then again, the stellar accomplishments are among the reasons this about page shines. Especially since the photo shows a young man with a less-than-elegant suit and a loose tie, which makes him seem way more approachable than the qualifications imply.
So, what makes an amazing about page, anyway? I think there are only three firm requirements. A good about page must be personal and unique. It must identify what readers can hope to get. It must also include some way of connecting with the author.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself
All the about pages I like best tell a clear story.
To build yours, answer three questions:
- What’s unique or weird about you?
- Why should readers care?
- How can readers connect with you?
In my case, my page describes my seasonal Canadian life. I describe who needs my services and how working with me will attract clients and save time.
I’m also part of a genealogy writers’ group, and I like our about page there too. It’s designed to encourage people to keep reading our blog.
You might like me or hate me after reading these two pages, but either way, you’ll know if you want to continue reading my work.
Technology has changed over the years, but the perfect about page hasn’t changed much. It still has to be personal, quirky and clear, just like Rachel Macdonald described in 2014.
Other tips for the perfect about page
Macdonald’s questions about how to write a perfect “about” page resonate just as well today as when she originally wrote her piece. Her initial question “how do you want your reader to feel?” expresses the quintessential aim of anyone crafting an effective about page. Read her wisdom at http://inspacesbetween.com/blogging-business/about-me-page/.
Sonia Simone from Copyblogger wrote much the same thing in her guide to writing an about page this summer. Sonia pointed out three crucial points that I didn’t specifically mention earlier, but all the about pages I like follow the same three rules.
- Make sure your about page mentions your full name (or your pen name if you wish).
- Include a photo of you, preferably doing something active.
- Outline your credentials.
If you like checklists, Barry Feldman from Orbit media uses the letters in the word “about” to create a checklist acronym. His post is also worth reading.
All of my about page examples feature individuals, but if you want to create a compelling company about page, Alexander Kesler from the Search Engine Journal has put together a list of 25 company about pages. Samples he likes include Mailchimp and Amnesty International.
Do you have any specific about pages you like? If so, link to them below and tell me why they work.
About the Author
Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.