Monday, November 12, 2012

“About Us” Evaluation: CNET Gets a C plus

CNET publishes news, reviews, blogs, and podcasts on technology and consumer electronics. Its unbiased experts are known for their ability to demystify technology. Founded in 1994 by Halsey Minor and Shelby Bonnie, CNET was acquired by CBS Interactive in 2008. The company’s About Us page is here.


Products/Services: B
We like the home-page overview: five headings, each with a teaser and a link. The only flaw is (unfortunately!) on the very first item, “Who we are and what we do.” That phrase promises at least a smidgen of business history. Instead we get a teaser -- “CNET is a collective of the tech-savvy and tech-obsessed” -- which doesn’t indicate what CNET does or why it’s unique. CNET’s strengths are set out clearly and concisely on the Press and Investor page: they need to be stated here as well, where far more people will see them.

CNET has the unusual challenge of listing categories, criteria, and winners of awards they give, rather than trying to impress us with awards they’ve received. Here and elsewhere on the About Us pages, we’d like to see more images of the wide range of products that CNET reviews – perhaps a slide show of the latest winners in major categories, changed weekly or monthly.

Personality: C
When we rely on reviewers for high-end purchases, we like to know something about their background and qualifications. The concept of CNET’s individual pages on each editor is great: comments and reviews the expert has posted on the left, short bio with interests and activities on the right. We would have given CNET an A for personality, except that two of the four reviewers highlighted on the CNET Editors page didn’t bother to submit bios. This is the sort of detail we’d expect tech-savvy and tech-obsessed people (or their editors) to pay attention to.

Accessibility: C
Via links at the lower right of the About Us page or on Where to Find Us, we can follow CNET nine different ways. Each of the editors has an email contact. But what if we don’t know which editor we want to contact? There seems to be no general email or online contact form.

While we admire (for esthetic reasons) the uncluttered look of CNET’s pages, we’d like more information: more photos of items reviewed, better bios of the people who write the reviews, and a bit of corporate history that reflects CNET’s well-deserved reputation among users of all tech stripes.

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.