Monday, April 16, 2012

“About Us” Evaluation: United Gets a D

United is one of the world’s largest airlines, with more than 86,000 employees and more than 700 aircraft. Now headquartered in Chicago, its roots are in Boise, Idaho, where in 1926 Varney Air Lines offered the first scheduled airline service in the United States. Varney was purchased by Walter Boeing, who merged his company with Pratt-Whitney in 1929 to form United Aircraft and Transport Company. In 2011, United merged with Continental Airlines.

There is no About Us page on The only company information is at

Accessibility: COVERALL GRADE: D

With its tabs for Media Center and Investor Relations, the website is clearly not aimed at the general public. Contact information for the media and investors is adequate. But given that people sometimes stumble about on the Net, it would be kind to offer a link for past and future fliers to the well-designed Contact page on

Products/Services: E

The main About Us page is a list of five bulleted points set against a blank white background. They’re good points, but why not show some images? Nothing here entices us to read a page full of small text.

In fact, it’s a major flaw on the site that the only images of planes are the ones provided for download on the Media Center. The background on almost every page is a vast expanse of white that does nothing to recall United’s “friendly skies.” The only exception is the Company History page, which instead has a vast expanse of blue-striped clouds.

And about that Company History page: United has had over 80 years of innovative and memorable history. The timeline on the Company History page starts with the year 2010 – yes, 2010. Within the 2 years covered, the events listed are almost all trivial, as for example, “Mileage Plus Elites Get Seating Benefits on Continental.” Who cares?

Timelines written for public consumption need to be reduced to essentials, and readers need to be told why these particular events are noteworthy.

Several of the pages on offer a downloadable Fact Sheet. Unfortunately, although there’s plenty of empty space on these pages, we’re not given any teasers about what’s on this fact sheet, so we have no particular reason to exert ourselves to click on it.

Personality: E

The website for is executed in crisp blue and white, but the content is bland. The Leadership page has a list of names and titles. Click on one and you’re sent to a cookie-cutter bio: education and previous positions. Nowhere is there an indication of where these leaders are moving the company at this turning point in its history.

We have noticed when writing these evaluations that as a heading for About Us pages, “media” is ambiguous. Sometimes it means “Here are mentions of our company in the media,” and sometimes it means “Hey, media people, here’s your information.” On this site it’s the latter. There is no page for mentions of United Continental Holding by the media: another missed opportunity for bringing the company’s best publicity to the fore.


Even on a site aimed at media and investors, About Us pages should make it obvious what the company’s product is and why it’s worth spending our money on.

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.