Monday, April 25, 2011

“About Us”: GlaxoSmithKline Gets an A Minus

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has grown from a pharmacy established in London in 1715 to the world’s third largest pharmaceutical company. It produces an array of vaccines and treatments for asthma, cancer, viral infections, AIDS/HIV, and diabetes, as well over-the-counter medicines and other healthcare products. GSK’s main About Us page is here.


Confused visitors quickly become exasperated visitors, and then non-visitors. Why are some of the links in the menu at the upper left of the About Us page repeated in the About Us menu directly below the first menu, and repeated yet again under Quick Links at the lower right? At the very least, one of these menus should be made more prominent, so we’re pushed in a particular direction.

We are also put off by the fact that the American site of GSK does not have its own About Us page; instead, the viewer is switched to the U.K. site. The U.S. site would benefit from having a U.S.-oriented history page.

Personality: A minus

The history on the GSK site is extensive, well illustrated, and easy to access: there’s a link to it on the main About Us page. It gives a summary of events, with the option to click on each event for details. The expanded view stays open until we close it. We greatly appreciate the fact that GSK offers us the option of a non-flash version. All these are excellent features that we wish we saw more often.

The main About Us page has links to Presentations by the company’s leaders over the last few years--a great way to put a face on the company.

Accessibility: A

The Contact Us page is extensive and well-organized, making it easy to find the appropriate contact for media, investors, job-seekers, and so on. Our only quibble is that the Contact Us link appears at the end of the menu at the upper left. Most sites have it at the upper right and/or in the footer, so it took us a couple seconds longer than usual to spot it.

Products/Services: B

The About Us statement on the main About Us page is: “to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.” This could apply equally well to any of GSK’s competitors, or to the company whose name follows it in the phone book. Such a statement is useless as what Rosser Reeves called a “Unique Selling Proposition.”

In GSK’s case, the fix is simple. Incorporate on the main About Us page a few facts from the Company page, which offers an excellent summary of the company’s global presence, its research on the World Health Organization’s top-priority diseases, and its production of vaccines and of medicines for life-threatening illnesses.

We applaud the Awards page, which lists awards in four different categories and states what each was given for. We’d like to see links to media coverage of these awards, so visitors to the site would be directed toward the most positive things the media has to say about GSK.


Even an organization with global reach and a wide array of products should summarize itself on the main About Us page. GSK has an exceedingly good range of materials linked to the About Us page: it’s only the main page that needs tweaking.

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.