Monday, September 30, 2013

Poggenpohl: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Freidemir Poggenpohl’s company, established 1892, introduced such kitchen innovations as ergonomic work-top heights, continuous countertops, inset handles, and smart-technology appliances. Based in Herford, Germany (but owned by the Swedish corporation Nobia), Poggenpohl claims to be the oldest kitchen brand in the world. Its About page is here.


Products/Services: D
If you want a kitchen with Ionic columns and baroque drawer pulls, Poggenpohl isn’t the company for you. The starkness of the About Us pages conveys the company’s minimalist esthetic very well. But ... On the main About page, as well as four of the six subpages, not a single image appears. It’s a missed opportunity for making visitors lust after a Poggenpohl kitchen of their own. For example: the Innovative Design page offers a list of awards, with logos. Why not show the model of kitchen or the feature that led to the award? Our Commandment 6 of About Us pages is “Honor thy visuals”: Poggenpohl’s About us pages strike out here.

On several pages Poggenpohl mentions its 120-year history. Bravo: citing a long, illustrious company history is an excellent way to demonstrate both innovation and staying power. The site also has a timeline (see Heritage), arranged as a slideshow of images. We are confused, though, by the fact that some of the captions are repeated with different photos. And alas, there is no way to pause the slideshow and look with bemused fascination at (for example) Luigi Colani’s “bubble kitchen,” ca. 1970.

A minor issue, but one that affects many companies with websites in several languages, is erratic English. The Poggenpohl timeline refers several times to the “carcass” or “carcase” of Poggenpohl cabinets. (See here and here, under 1995.) Since the primary meaning of “carcass” in English is “dead body,” this carries connotations inappropriate for a high-end kitchen. Perhaps this is only a problem on the English website -- but if sales to English speakers are important enough to deserve a separate website, then that website should be written in flawless English.

Personality: D
The Management page has large pictures of the company’s leaders, each one smiling cheerfully in front of kitchen cabinets, each one with a department and email address. Why not add a few words about their career, or their feelings about the company, or their favorite Poggenpohl design? On this page, ironically, too much space is given to images, too little to text.

Accessibility: D
The Contact Us page offers generic address, phone, email (no options for specific departments), and an option to find a Poggenpohl studio near you. It’s adequate but not innovative -- except for making us type info in small, difficult-to-read white characters on black fields. That annoys us enough to downgrade the page from C to D.

If your product has a visual aspect, illustrate, illustrate, illustrate. And spend a few dollars, euros, or Swedish kronor to translate your corporate story into the idiomatic language of each country in which it appears. 

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.