Monday, April 28, 2014

Delaware North: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Delaware North, established in 1915 by the Jacob brothers to sell popcorn and peanuts at theater concession stands in Buffalo, N.Y., soon expanded into selling food at ballparks. The company (still owned by the Jacobs family) has grown into a food service and hospitality company that operates worldwide, with some 55,000 employees and annual revenue of more than $2 billion. Jeremy Jacobs, the current chairman and CEO, owns the Boston Bruins of the NHL, and Delaware North owns their home stadium. The main About Us page (“Who We Are”) is here.


Products/Services: B plus
The text on the Delaware North About Us pages is excellent, and the images are abundant and well chosen. Together they present a great overview of the company’s products and services. One detail needs attention: navigation and links. Our Commandment 7 of About Us pages is “Keep navigation easy.” The menus and submenus on the Delaware North site aren’t always clear: the drop-down menu for Who We Are shows the company’s operating divisions, but gives no indication that clicking on “Who We Are” will take visitors to a page whose submenus include Company History, Family Leadership, Company Executives, Vision and Mission, and Awards. Links between pages should also be added. For example, on Who We Are, “100th anniversary” should have a link to Company History. “GuestPath” should be linked to the page dedicated to it.

Incidentally, linking content makes it easier for those who create and maintain the site to spot content that’s inconsistent. In Delaware North’s case, the philosophy on the main About Us page (“One company. One brand. One vision”) isn’t repeated on What We Value or Vision and Mission. The main About Us page says the company has seven divisions, but What We Do has only six subheads, and the “Who We Are” drop-down menu has nine.

Personality: A minus
Delaware North’s Family Leadership page features photos of the members of the second and third generations of the Jacobs family, with information on their corporate responsibilities as well as their qualifications. Well done, but there are some missed opportunities here. We glimpsed, somewhere, an anecdote that in 1930, Louis Jacobs personally delivered a sizeable refund check to the owner of the Detroit Tigers because Jacobs decided the contract had unduly benefited Delaware North. On a second visit to the site, we couldn’t find this anecdote – only a slightly different version in an untitled PDF. Why not feature such examples from the company history more prominently – on the Company History page and elsewhere - as a way to demonstrate its long-standing commitment to honesty and integrity?

A pleasant touch on the Company History page: the company name has its own little box that tells a corporate citizenship story (“The name ‘Delaware North’ hearkens back to the company's previous location at the corner of Delaware Avenue and North Street in Buffalo, N.Y. Once Delaware North outgrew the facilities, Jeremy Jacobs donated the historic mansion that once housed executive offices to the University at Buffalo School of Management”).

The Timeline, always an opportunity for smart graphics, could be so much better. It calls itself interactive, but it’s basically a batch of photos (attractive) with type that’s in graphic format (uncopyable) and thus hard to read. The only navigation tool is a set of arrows, and there’s no way to smoothly scroll from decade to decade.

Accessibility: C
The Contact page offers emails for doing business with Delaware North, a link to the Jobs Section, a phone hotline, and finally, an online form for less urgent inquiries. These options are adequate, but it wouldn’t hurt to repeat (or at least give links to) the information that appears on the contact pages for the company’s separate operating divisions: Gaming, Sportservice, and so on.

Especially in a family-owned business, who you were drives who you are. Don’t miss the chance to include quotations or anecdotes from the company history that illustrate your guiding principles.

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.