Monday, July 22, 2013

Clarks Originals: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Clarks, famous for classic shoes such as the Desert Boot (introduced in 1950) and the Wallabee (1965), dates back to 1825, when two Quaker brothers in Somerset opened a business making sheepskin rugs and slippers. Until recently, all Clarks products were still manufactured in the south of England. Today, most come from China. With sales of over a million pounds, Clarks is one of the largest private companies in the U.K.

The About Us page for Clarks Originals (“Our Story”) is here.

Via the Collection menu on the top navigation bar, we know that Clarks offers a couple dozen styles -- but nothing on the Our Story page indicates that Clarks produces more than the five styles featured there. We are befuddled. This slice of business history (dare we say it?) sets off on the wrong foot.

Products/Services: D
Clark’s Our Story is one of the most aggravatingly cute About Us pages we've ever seen. The cursor turns into a big black dot that says “Click.” Clicking it shows us a pull-down menu of 7 options (Introduction, 5 shoe styles, Shoe Making). Click any option and we progress, jerkily, along a trail of shoelaces to a paragraph so short (100 words or so) that reading it takes almost the same amount of time as arriving there did. A tremendous amount of space and time are wasted on this page. Remember our Commandment Five of About Us pages: respect your readers’ attention spans. In this case, make the story worth the wait – or shorten the wait. And make it a story.

Why not fill some of the empty space on the Our Story page with images that would make us want Clarks shoes on our feet? The famous crepe rubber sole, the tree that’s the source of it, the Harris tweed used in the shoes ... The Collection pages (here, for example) have black-and-white images that look archival. These images ought to also appear on the page devoted to the company’s corporate history, where they would visually reinforce a company history that’s approaching the two-century mark.

Personality: E
From the Our Story page, we don’t get any sense of the personality behind the company. Who was the founder? When and where and why? What’s the policy behind limiting shoes to a few timeless styles, and making them the same way they’ve been made for ... Well, we don’t know for how many years.

Actually, we do know--but only from Wikipedia. The fact that we learn far more of Clarks’ business history from Wikipedia than from the company’s own site is a black mark against Clarks.

Accessibility: C
The company’s mailing address is at the foot of the Our Story page. Contact information is via the Feedback Form, which includes a phone number, snail-mail address, and the ubiquitous online contact form. This is not exceptional, but it’s adequate.

The About Us page should give an overview of your company. By all means brag about your bestsellers, but if you offer other items, give your visitors a chance to learn about them, too.

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