Monday, April 11, 2011

“About Us” Evaluation: Poetry Foundation Gets an A

The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization devoted to achieving a more prominent role for poetry in our culture. Its roots go back to Poetry magazine, founded in 1912, and to the Modern Poetry Association, founded in 1941, but its present incarnation is thanks to a lavish bequest from philanthropist Ruth Lilly.


This is a wonderful “About Us” page: it’s elegantly simple but packed with info. Shades of green and orange are used to set off main topics and subdivisions. We don’t even need to read headings to sort out the topics and their priority: the colors and sequence do it all. Edward Tufte would approve.

Products/Services: B plus

The left-hand column presents the history of the Foundation and its goals. We love the fact that a great deal of information is condensed into a small space, with an appropriate subheading and pictures of the two most important figures in the organization.

The order could be a bit more logical, though. After a brief statement of the Foundation’s nature (the first paragraph), why not tell us about Harriet Monroe and Poetry magazine near the top (where Monroe’s picture appears), then Ruth Lilly’s bequest, then the organization’s current endeavors?

One oddity: the organization’s tax-exempt status is mentioned twice, in the context of making donations, but there is no pep talk about why anyone might want to donate. Indeed, the first mention of donations is immediately followed by the information that Lilly’s bequest guarantees that Poetry magazine will exist in perpetuity--and so, presumably, has no need of further donations.

Personality: A

Just right of the introduction to the Poetry Foundation is a series of letters from the president of the Foundation (accompanied by a photo) that gives us a sense of who runs the organization and what his priorities are. Again, it’s simple but effective.

Accessibility: A plus

Without leaving this page, we can navigate to a list of the staff and board members (column 2), become a fan on Facebook or Twitter or (column 3), subscribe to a newsletter (column 3), and subscribe to RSS feeds or send an email to the Foundation (footer). We particularly like the fact that near the top of column 3 are up-to-the-minute ways for the tech-savvy to get more poetry into their lives: for example, a free iPhone app for poetry.


This is one of the best single-page About Us pages we’ve seen. It’s dense, but hierarchically organized (as much by colors, graphics, and placement as by words), resulting in a page that’s informative, attractive, and easy to navigate.

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.