Monday, January 3, 2011

“About Us”: Domtar Gets a B

Established in 1848 and headquartered in Montreal, Domtar Corporation is the largest integrated manufacturer and marketer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America. It employs some 10,000 people. Domtar’s corporate About Us page is here.


Personality: B

Domtar gets high marks for its History page, which briefly sets out when the company was founded and why, how it achieved its present status, and what principles drive it. The page is laid out well, with 6 subheads, short paragraphs, and easily legible text.

The one problem with this page--and it’s a big problem--is that it’s difficult to find. You’ll only see it if you happen to go to the Corporate tab on the top navigation bar, click About Us, and look on the left-hand navigation bar. We’d love to see it given a more prominent place.

On the other hand, the Management Committee page is easy to find, but not very informative. If this page is intended to help us contact the right person at Domtar, a simple table of names, titles and emails would be more efficient. If it’s meant to put a face on Domtar and impress us with the caliber of their management team, why not give us a few lines on the education and experience that qualify each person for his or her position?

A minor point: We like the fact that there’s a separate tab for Governance Documents and for the Code of Business and Ethics. Making such documents available is unusual, and it impresses us that Domtar considers these documents important enough to be put up on the website. That said, we also like the fact that they’re easy to avoid, if we’re not interested.

Accessibility: B

All contact information is relegated to the Contact Us link, available at the upper right on all pages. This is functional, although for the sake of marketing, it’s always better to end the page with a suggestion for potential action: “To learn more about X, email John Smith or click here.”

Products/Services: B

Domtar’s main About Us page focuses on the company’s divisions, rather than its products. Since the usual goal of a company’s About Us page is to persuade visitors to do business, it would make more sense to focus on what Domtar produces and why. This would be a perfect opportunity to mention details that are currently buried on the History page: for example, that Domtar was the first North American paper company to win Forest Stewardship Council certification and that it is certified for Sustainable Forestry Initiative Fiber Sourcing. For visitors who are environmentally aware, this sort of information is a major selling point.

Mentioning specific products would also give Domtar a chance to enliven the text with current or archival photos. Many companies with gorgeously illustrated websites seem to forget all about the importance of images when they create the About Us page.


Two points this time. First, if you have great content such as Domtar’s history page, make sure it’s easily accessible. Second, remember that the goal of an About Us page is not to give an academic description of who you are and what you do: it’s to connect with potential clients and customers. Bearing that goal in mind, make the page as interesting and attractive as possible, in terms of visuals and text.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). Contact us if you’d like to have your site evaluated—there’s no charge and no obligation. Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.