Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Troemner: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate History.net

In 1838, Henry Troemner, a German immigrant in Philadelphia, established a company for manufacturing precision weights. Today the company, headquartered in West Deptford, New Jersey, produces a variety of weights and precisely calibrated laboratory equipment. The main About Us page (“About Troemner”) is here.

The link to About Troemner is under “Reference Center” in the footer of each page – not necessarily the most logical place to look for it. The About page has a submenu of 19 items, the most important of which should also appear under “Reference Center”: e.g., Accreditations, FAQ, and Contact Us.

Products/Services: C
The Company Overview has 3 subheads: “The Troemner Advantage” (on what they produce and why they do it so well), “Troemner’s Beginning” (how the company achieved its eminent position), and “Troemner Today.” The third section is particularly good because it includes links to pages devoted to Troemner’s calibration services and equipment. Clicking a button expands the text of each section. If the button instead took visitors to a separate page, Troemner could incorporate more images and make the text more enticing.

As passionate historians, we have to ask: Why is there only one mention of the fact that the company was established in 1838? Few American companies boast such a long corporate history. A timeline focusing on Troemner’s company history and innovations, with archival illustrations, would be a great addition to the site. A company that had a part in the Gold Rush should boast about it! Did Troemner really let its 175th business anniversary go uncelebrated?

One issue that’s particularly noticeable on the Company Overview page is the disdain for the Humble Hyphen and the Common Comma. Many readers will trip over “The Troemner staff includes on premises, industry recognized metrologists”; “on-premises, industry-recognized metrologists” would have made the sentence easy to grasp. There’s also a lack of attention to word choice. The page says, “Troemner is capable of providing unmatched measurements.” “Is capable of” sounds as if they don’t always; “unmatched measurements” suggests not that the accuracy is unrivalled, but that the measurements can’t be replicated. Our Commandment 9 of About Us pages is, “Worship clarity.” These errors suggest inattention to detail—a regrettable first impression for a company renowned for precision.

Personality: E
Our Commandment 3 of About Us pages is, “Reveal thy personality.” We get no sense that Troemner has one. The only person mentioned by name on the company site is Henry Troemner, the company founder, and he gets only three sentences. If the current management doesn’t want to be front and center on the site, then the About Us pages should play up the fact that Mr. Troemner’s standards still rule the company. And surely its workers must have some interesting corporate stories to share. A company with Troemner’s longevity and specificity is likely to attract lifetime employees who love the art and science of what they do.

Accessibility: C
The foot of each page offers Troemner’s telephone, email, and mailing address. The Contact page offers the same, plus a Human Resources contact and contacts for direct sales offices, by region. Nothing innovative here, but this is adequate.

Even a company whose focus is on mechanical perfection can benefit from some human stories: give your company personality through its business history.

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; CorporateHistory.net has no ties to this company.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hartford Stage's 50th Anniversary Misses Some Opptys

To celebrate its first 50 years, Connecticut's Hartford Stage created a traveling exhibit of design elements from 350 of its productions. Superb idea to excavate 50 years of history and send the show on the road--but why isn't some or all of the exhibit viewable on the web as well? The Stage's website downplays the anniversary, sadly, without so much as a single photo immediately evident. (Remember Commandment 6 of CorporateHistory.net's 10 Commandments of About Us pages: "Honor Thy Visuals.") Similarly, a link to the video and photo archives contains no images. Theaters are always underbudgeted and understaffed; that's all the more reason to pack the website full of enticement and put it to work for a full anniversary year's worth of corporate storytelling.

Info from the Connecticut tourism bureau (kudos to them for providing the attached photo): "The exhibit consists of a selection of costumes, props and scenic elements from Hartford Stage's extensive collection. A hallmark of the theater's work is the quality of the work that appears on stage, all of which is built in Hartford. Scores of locally-based artists, craftspeople, and technicians created these pieces to animate the visions of some of the world's most prominent theatrical designers." Remaining dates and locations for the tour, which started in September 2013:
Until June 10, 2014: Connecticut State Capitol, Hartford.
June 10-July 23, 2014: William Benton Museum of Art at UConn, Storrs.

Addendum on May 22: Chuck MacNaughton, Digital Media Manager at Hartford Stage, sent the following. I had a little trouble loading the microsite, but once it came up, I found it well worth exploring. Thanks, Chuck!
"I read your recent post. We do appreciate your noticing and recognizing both our traveling Stagecraft event and our 50th Anniversary. We would like to point out, however, that we we have featured our anniversary prominently with a dedicated microsite, which is featured in the main panel on our home page at http://www.hartfordstage.org/. It is also featured on our Facebook page "about" block at https://www.facebook.com/hartfordstage. In case you still have trouble locating the Anniversary microsite you can go directly to it at http://50.hartfordstage.com/. While the heaviest promotion of the microsite was in November, marking the official public launch of our anniversary season, both the panel on our home page and the link on Facebook have been present since September 2013."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mohawk Paper: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate History.net

Mohawk Paper, a family-run business headquartered in Cohoes, New York, produces high-quality paper and non-paper substrates for offset and digital printing. In 1931, George O’Connor purchased a paper company dating to 1866—thus Mohawk can proudly say it’ll celebrate its sesquicentennial (150-year) business anniversary in less than two years. Mohawk is now run by O’Connors of the third generation (or fourth? see below). Its main About Us page (“Company”) is here.


Products/Services: B
The main About Us page, Company, has an overview, “Vision for the Future,” and teasers for pages on Who We Are, Social Responsibility, and Mohawk History. Each teaser has a photo. Well done so far. The pages themselves, and many other pages, would benefit from additional photos. The History page, for example, has a good narrative, but it’s rather dense. Images of products or early advertising would entice readers to linger over Mohawk’s corporate history.  

A good timeline is an excellent addition to most company history sites ... but three timelines are just confusing. On the History page, the sidebar offers links to “Mohawk Timeline,” “Strathmore Timeline,” and “Beckett Timeline.” The links lead to pages with somewhat different content, but all three pages have the title “Mohawk Timeline.” Our Commandment 9 of About Us pages is “Worship clarity.” That means sweating the details, including page titles. On the same issue: some of the site’s pages (e.g., History) state that Mohawk has been family owned for three generations, but the first line of text on Who We Are mentions a history of growth going back four generations. Which is correct?

Success Stories presents satisfied and innovative customers such as members of Herman Miller’s marketing team, who explain why they chose specific Mohawk papers. Bravo: website testimonials are a great way to reinforce positive perceptions of your products and business history. So are awards, and the Operational Excellence page neatly incorporates mention of several important awards. (Images, please!) But like the timelines (which reach only to 2012), this page needs updates; the stats on employee safety are from 2008 and 2011.

Personality: A
The bio of Chairman and CEO Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr. on Mohawk Board does an excellent job of presenting him as the driving force behind this family-owned business. Well done.

Accessibility: C
The Contact page, available via a link in the footer, offers the standard options: telephone, mailing address, and an online form. There’s nothing innovative here, but it’s adequate.

If your site includes references to time (or generations) elapsed, make a note to check it regularly and update the references. The impact of great content is diminished if it clearly hasn’t been reviewed for several years.

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; CorporateHistory.net has no ties to this company.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NACHA 40th Anniversary Video

Electronic payments abound ... direct deposit, online bill pay, mobile movement of money, and more. As with all things electric, we rely on them even though we don't see the mechanics. It's been a thrill for CorporateHistory.net to assist NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association on numerous initiatives for its 40th anniversary, including this video (ably produced by the great people at O'Keefe Communications in Washington, DC). We'll have more to share in upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, you rock, NACHA!