Monday, September 16, 2013

Standard & Poor Dow Jones Indices: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

The Dow Jones averages date to 1882, when Charles Dow and Edward Jones created an index for tracking the performance of large, publicly traded companies on Wall Street. It was the first attempt to create a benchmark for comparing individual stocks to the course of the stock market, or comparing the course of the stock market to other economic indicators. Today Standard & Poor Dow Jones Indices (majority owned by McGraw-Hill Financial) publishes over 830,000 indices for various segments of the market. The main About Us page is here.

Our Commandment 7 of About Us pages is “Remember to keep navigation easy”: the Dow Jones sites need work here, we assume because they've grown over time without a thorough revamp. When we first looked for an About Us page for the Dow, we found the site for the Dow Jones Indices and the site for the Dow Jones Averages. We found a timeline that only covered 1997-2012. We found contact links that spun us around until we were completely discombobulated. Then, buried in the Company Profile page on the DJ Indices site, we found a link for the Standard & Poor Dow Jones Indices main page, whose About Us page we’re evaluating today.

Products/Services: A+
The Our History page has a brilliant graphic of the Dow Jones average from the early 20th century to the present, with annotations above and recognizable images for decade after decade filling the area below the line of the graph. This is one of the most appealing and useful graphics we've seen for a long, long time, on an About Us page or anywhere else.

Also far above average is the Awards page. Each award has not only the name and logo of the presenting organization, but a summary of what the award was given for.

The Our Mission page is slightly less appealing. The text is well written, but the video that appears above the fold and runs automatically doesn't add substantially to it. We appreciate the effort of researching archival photos of people at work in the stock market, but the interesting dates fly by too fast, and the plummy British accent of the narrator is jarring for a company that has always been headquartered in New York’s Financial District.

Accessibility: C
The Contact Us page gives access to locations worldwide. Nothing special, but adequate.

Personality: C
Management Profiles presents the leaders of the company: name, title, photo, a one-line job description, and a link for more information. Again, this is adequate but not innovative. Surely some of these people have quotable opinions on why the Dow Jones indices are important and what direction the company should be heading.

Have someone from outside your company look at your site periodically to see if its content and navigation are still cohesive. This is especially crucial if you’re running several related sites. And add a dose of corporate storytelling. Surely someone at S&P Dow Jones can excavate a few business stories and lessons learn from a company that has been a fixture for 131 years, one whose name is the business equivalent of a household word.

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.