Monday, August 1, 2011

About Us” Evaluation: Kemet Gets an A+

Kemet became an independent company in 1990, after 71 years as a subsidiary of Union Carbide. Originally it produced a crucial part for vacuum tubes. After the invention of the transistor, its facilities were retooled to manufacture capacitors. Kemet, headquartered in South Carolina, has manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The main About Us page is here.


Products/Services: A+

Kemet’s main About Us page is a top-notch history page: an essay with narrative flow that covers all major aspects of the company since 1919. There are passing references to the role of the company on the world scene (Kemet capacitors used in vacuum tubes during World War II, in the Apollo moon landing, etc.), but the focus is on the company’s products, growth, IPO, consolidation, and manufacturing facilities.
The page begins with an introduction that stresses Kemet’s passion for quality and customer service, and ends by noting that Kemet produces billions of capacitors per year. Every sentence of the page not only tells the company’s history, but helps sell the product. And despite the highly abstruse nature of the product, we are never overwhelmed with technical jargon.

The only suggestion we’d make (and we’ve make this one so often that we feel like an echo of an echo) is that the essay could benefit from some illustrations. A decade ago, we were grateful when companies didn’t assume we had a fast enough connection to download photos. But this is 2011, and now we’re bored when we don’t get at least a few graphics to break up large blocks of text. Surely a company nearly 100 years old has some archival photos that would make a fascinating accompaniment to its history.

Accessibility: A+
Rarely do we see Contact Us pages that are novel as well as effective: Kemet’s contact page is both. Rather than a list of names and addresses, it lets the reader choose one of several statements: “I need some literature on one of your products,” “I would like sample parts sent to me,” etc. Each statement is linked to an appropriate page. If you want product literature, for example, you’re sent to a page where you can check off items and submit a request. At the foot of the main Contact page (but still “above the fold” for most screens) are the addresses and phone numbers for corporate headquarters and subsidiary offices.

Personality: A
We like the Leadership Team page, which offers 4- to 5-line bios of Kemet’s top executives (name, title, experience, training) on a single page. For most purposes, that’s all we need to get a sense of who’s in charge. The “group” photo of all the executives standing in a row was clearly Photoshopped, but gives a nice impression that all of them work cheerfully together.

The only page on the Kemet site that we disliked was Guiding Principles, which appears as a flash presentation that can’t be paused or printed. Why not offer an option for a print version or one whose speed the viewer can control?

The text of Kemet’s history page could be used as a model for many companies, both for its narrative flow and for the way it covers a wide range of points without ever becoming lost in technical detail. Kemet’s Contact Us page ranks as one of the best we’ve seen for deftly directing visitors to the information they want.

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.