Monday, October 31, 2011

“About Us” Evaluation: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Gets a D

MGM, headquartered in Los Angeles, was formed in 1924 by the merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Productions. During the following three decades the studio with “more stars than are in the heavens” dominated the movie business. Today MGM controls a library of about 4,100 films (including 15 that have won the Oscar® for Best Picture) and over 10,000 hours of television programming.


One of the biggest issues with MGM’s About Us pages is finding them. They’re buried under the link MGM Inc. in the tiny type at the foot of the Movies page (the home page). The Movies page gives no sense of how long the company’s been in business or what a wealth of great movies have been produced under its aegis – just a long, long list of movies that can be sorted by title or by category, but not by date or awards won.

Products/Services: C

The historical overview starts with a video that shows clips and stills from many of the great MGM movies. Mysteriously, the captions identify some but not all of these.

The text below the video is a decent overview of the company’s creation … but it’s illustrated with one and only one photo, a black-and-white pic of the studio’s headquarters. Why not have a timeline with important movies and TV shows, each with the same links to trailers and purchase info that the main Movies page offers? The point is not only to tell us about MGM, but to persuade us to purchase their products.

We’d also like to see all that gray space on the left and right put to better use. Bensi’s filled it with pictures of food; why doesn’t MGM fill it with movie and TV stills, as on the header to the Movies page? That blank filmstrip graphic at the top is a waste of space.

We cannot let pass the fact that minor grammatical errors in the history page subtly undermine the impression of high quality production that MGM presumably wants to convey. Of Midnight Cowboy, the page notes that “It was changed to an R-rating in 1971,” when the rating (rather than the movie) was changed. In the next paragraph there’s a simple typo, “THese” rather than “These.” And so on. As we said in our 9th Commandment of About Us pages, this sort of error is a “broken window” – it suggests the company is careless about details.

Personality: C

The Corporate Information page offers links to bios (not “bio’s”!) of MGM’s executives, but the bios are standard cookie-cutter summaries that don’t focus on what values drive the executives, and therefore the company. Stressing the number of MGM productions and the number of Academy Awards they’ve received would convey the company’s personality much more effectively.

Accessibility: E

Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?

Having an email list, a Facebook link, a Twitter feed, and a YouTube channel is not a substitute for offering an email address, a phone number, or a mailing address – none of which appear on MGM’s site.


MGM has access to a breathtaking amount of great material spanning nearly a century: what a pity it’s not used more effectively!

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.