Monday, October 14, 2013

IKEA: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture store, was founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, who named it using his own initials and those of the Swedish farm and town where he grew up. Today the company is privately held by a foundation based in the Netherlands. In fiscal year 2012, sales of IKEA’s low-priced, eco-friendly designs were over $3 billion, in 298 stores in 26 countries. IKEA’s main About Us page is here.

One praiseworthy feature of IKEA’s About Us pages is the frequent, enticing links between the pages. For example, when we finish reading about Democratic Design, we see a teaser (photo and link) to a page with more information on IKEA’s suppliers.

Also, the IKEA About Us pages have a wide variety of great still photos showing “the many people” (as IKEA calls us) enjoying IKEA products. Bravo!

On the down side, the site’s videos don’t add much to the text and still photos. Take “Find out how we work at the IKEA Group and learn all about our value chain,” a six-minute video on the Company Information. It shows a group of people in an IKEA factory watching a man drawing a cartoon. The time-lapse drawing process was far more interesting than the cartoon’s content. Well, better to have pointless videos supplementing good still photos and text than to have only videos, as many websites do.

Products/Services: A
It’s impossible to read the IKEA About Us pages without getting a strong sense of the style, materials, sources, value, and functionality of IKEA products. Well done - and all too rare!

Personality: D
The best way to convey a company’s mission is not through noble abstractions: see our Commandment 2 of About Us pages (“Thou shalt not generalize”). It’s through the story of what the company has done and why. In the area of corporate history, IKEA falls flat. The About Us pages refer to the fact that the first factory was in Almhult, Sweden and that the company is over half a century old. They include a charming picture of founder (and still advisor) Ingvar Kamprad with aisles of IKEA merchandise looming behind him. But the site offers no narrative history of the company and no timeline. According to Wikipedia, IKEA celebrates its 70th year in 2013: there’s no mention of that milestone anywhere on the site.

Burrowing around, we eventually found the whole of Kamprad’s 1976 “Testament of a Furniture Dealer” ... buried in a link halfway down the Working at the IKEA Group page, where chances are only a few extraordinarily eager potential employees will ever spot it. On the Company Information page, though, the first statement under the “Vision and business idea” heading is in quotation marks, and is taken directly from the “Testament” – without attribution to Kamprad!

Accessibility: A
IKEA does a great job of helping customers or potential customers access the information they need. On the Customer Service page, we’re offered a choice of shopping online, locating a store, choosing IKEA services, contacting IKEA, becoming a rewards member, checking return policy, checking warranties, or giving feedback. If we choose Contact Us, we’re offered some of the same choices, but also the option of reading a FAQ, sending an email, making a phone call, downloading assembly instructions, or requesting spare parts or hardware. This level of detail on the Contact Us pages makes us feel that IKEA really wants to help us and hear from us.

Work your visuals, especially the still photos: not all visitors will want to invest time in watching videos. Also, make it obvious to visitors to your site that you truly want to hear from them and help them.

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.