Monday, June 9, 2014

NJ350: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

NJ350 aims to coordinate activities in towns across the state that are celebrating New Jersey’s 350th anniversary. The closest it has to an About Us page is What is NJ350? Since is headquartered in New Jersey, we are keenly interested in the confluence of our home state and its sesquarcentennial events. (Indeed, 350th business anniversaries are so rare that we had to look up “sesquarcentennial.”)

The layout of this site is elegant and simple... but it somehow fails to convey the excitement one would expect on a 350th anniversary. Too much space is taken up by the menus; too much above-the-fold space devoted to large headlines. The site’s home page has block after block of information, in no discernible order—a daunting read. This seems to be a case of not knowing one’s audience (see our Commandment 1 of About Us pages.) The average American is fascinated by stories with heroes, but if one calls the stories “history,” will suddenly lose interest. Unfortunately, the titles and headlines on the NJ350 site seem to have been written by academics, not by enthusiasts trying to rouse interest in the fascinating past events that shaped our present.

Products/Services: C
The site’s purpose is to promote events throughout New Jersey that celebrate the state’s foundation in 1664. What is NJ350? is not enticing. It offers several dozen small photos without captions, on three separate tabs, followed by an unillustrated block of text about the state’s history. There are no links to other pages. For finding events, one has to turn to the Events page, which has a calendar and a Search Events box.

Personality: D
No information is given on who runs the NJ350 program—not even whether it’s a government or private site. If the creators want to be anonymous, some substitute personality needs to be found, such as the people, companies, and institutions that have made New Jersey’s 350 years so eventful.

Apropos, given the state’s need to retain existing employers and attract new ones, why not add a page or two focusing on business history? New Jersey is home to numerous companies with long and rich corporate history tales to tell: a few that jump to mind are Annin Flagmakers, Campbell Soup, Congoleum, Marcal, Merck, Provident Bank, PSE&G, Prudential Insurance, and Troemner (whose “About Us” pages we reviewed two weeks ago). And let’s not forget that Rutgers, the State University (alma mater of’s president) will turn 250 years old in 2016. The omission of Rutgers isn’t a surprise—the university never seems to miss a chance to make mistakes lately—but for NJ350 not to mention these long-standing Jersey organizations is a missed opportunity.

Accessibility: D
The Contact page has a standard online form. Alas, the only comment posted dates to January 30—a sad indication that the site has drawn little attention. It would be better to post no comments than to have so few showing.

Let your enthusiasm show through, or visitors to your site won’t have a clue what they’re missing if they don’t linger and explore.

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.