Monday, March 17, 2014

Newell Rubbermaid: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

The Newell Manufacturing Company, founded in 1903 in Ogdensburg, N.Y., originally produced curtain rods of superior quality. Newell went public in 1972, and in 1999 acquired Rubbermaid and changed to its present name. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the company (headquartered in Atlanta) offers a wide range of high-quality consumer and commercial products such Rubbermaid, Sharpie, Calphalon, Levelor, Paper Mate, Waterman, Aprica, Graco, and Goody. The main About Us page (“Our Company”) is here.


Products/Services: D
Where are the products? The “Our Company” section of the Newell-Rubbermaid site has 6 sub-pages. The company’s products are mentioned in a one-sentence list on the main page (“a strong portfolio of leading brands, including Rubbermaid®, Sharpie®, Graco®, Calphalon®, Irwin®, Lenox®, Levolor®, Paper Mate®, Dymo®, Waterman®, Parker®, Goody®, Rubbermaid Commercial Products® and Aprica®”) ... and nowhere else in the About Us pages except in the timeline, Our History. Even on that page, one has to scroll down to 2008 to find a product mentioned.

From Awards (buried under Press Room), it’s clear that Newell Rubbermaid products are industry leaders. Why aren’t these mentioned on other pages, with photos? Even a background to the page showing the logos of Newell Rubbermaid properties would remind us why we care about this company.

In the News is nicely designed, with the article’s title (linked to the online article), publication, date, a brief summary, with space for an image at the left.

A brief rant: our First Commandment of About Us pages is “Know thy audience.” That star graphic on Our Purpose and Values incorporates a central purpose, five values, and an overarching vision. Our Growth Game Plan (the next page on the submenu after Our Purpose and Values) has a different diagram with 5 sections, the last of which has 5 subheads. Who are these for? We doubt even MBAs would appreciate such abstract, complex diagrams.

Personality: B
Rubbermaid’s bios of management (Our Leadership) offer more than the usual resume-without-paragraph-breaks content. For example, “Michael Polk [President and CEO] is building Newell Rubbermaid into a larger, faster growing, more global and more profitable company.” Well done. We would have given an “A” here if there had also been links to speeches or articles by the CEO and others.

Accessibility: D
The lengthy second paragraph on the Contact page, in italics, is a dire warning to those who want to submit inventions. For legal reasons it’s obviously important to include that information - but why not segregate it below and to the right, in a box, under the heading “To Inventors”?

Below the warning paragraph, the Contact page offers only an address and phone number for each division (Levelor/Kirsch, Aprica, etc.) On the pop-up menu at the right (“Product Contact Information”), at least one of the links is broken. Others require loading two or three separate pages in order to actually contact the division. If you want to hear from your customers, make it easy. It costs nothing extra to put a direct link to further contact information on the Newell-Rubbermaid page.

In printed works, duplicating information is costly and usually unnecessary. On the web, repeating information across a site (particularly contact information) is a good thing, if it allows visitors to accomplish what they want with less frustration.

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. We do buy and use pens made by Sharpie and Paper Mate.