Monday, March 11, 2013

Vayable: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

After being temporary roommates via an Airbnb rental, Jamie Wong and Samrat Jeyaprakash set out to solve the problem, “What do we do once we get there?” The company they founded, Vayable, now connects vetted local tour guides with travelers seeking unique experiences in New York, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and 600 other cities worldwide. By late 2012, Vayable offered over 2,500 tours at prices ranging from $5 to $5,000. As a new company Vayable doesn’t have much of a corporate history, but it makes the most of what it’s got. The company’s About Us page is here.


Products/Services: A
The main About Us page (Our Stories) offers first-hand accounts of travelers to exotic locales who are excited about sharing their experiences. It’s a great introduction to the company, one that honors Commandment 2 of’s 10 Commandments of About Us pages: Thou Shalt Not Generalize. The company’s actual mission statement (Our Purpose) is considerably less enticing: “To enable entrepreneurship, cultural exchange, community-building and exploration worldwide by empowering people to share experiences with others.” And we don’t even get gorgeous photos of exotic places to go with that mouthful!

The layout of How This Works is simple and clear, reminding us (probably not coincidentally) of Airbnb, which we evaluated in May 2011. The opening screen features an enticing photo, one-line summaries of three tours we know Carnival Cruises will never offer us, and brief statements on four topics of concern to travelers: quality of the tour, trustworthiness of the guides, ease of use, and payments.

Scrolling down How This Works takes us to a 3-step guide to booking, then a series of testimonials, then links to a page of media coverage. This is an excellent sequence, worthy of emulation. Our only quibble is that there’s no link within the text to a page where we can start searching for and booking tours.

The Media page is a model for such pages: logo of the publication, date, and the title of the article serving as a link to the article itself. Even visitors who don’t click the link get a sense of the positive press response to Vayable.

Personality: C
Vayable’s guides are the face of the company, and the Ambassadors are the highest-ranking guides. But there’s no way to search them out: the Ambassadors page blithely tells us to look for the Ambassador badge on the guide’s Profile and Experience pages. Why not make it simple for us to find the best of the best, and let them impress us enough to search for tours?

Vayable’s management appears on the Team page ... we think. Nice photos, interesting bios, but what roles do these three play in Vayable’s operations? Titles, please, and how they became involved Vayable, and why. On the main About Us page (Our Stories), Jamie Wong (listed there as co-founder) recounts an outing in Morocco that changed her life, but there’s no link from that to her Team bio, or vice versa.

Accessibility: B
The Support page is also simply and clearly laid out: each heading shows the most frequently asked questions, with an option to see more. Why not rearrange the questions, so one column is aimed at tour guides, the other at travelers? In the current layout, travelers have to scroll past all the FAQs for tour guides.

One major navigation error: there’s no way to get back to the Vayable site from the Support page or any of its sub-pages. The Vayable icon isn’t a link to the Home page, and there are no headers or footers with links.

Remember your audience’s context. If you’re a new company offering a new service, be sure to explain who you are and how you operate. Otherwise, your business history may be “history” all too soon.

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?). Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company. To talk about your About Us page, contact us!