Monday, January 5, 2015

Kidde: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Kidde was founded in 1917 by Walter Kidde, who in 1918 pioneered the first integrated smoke detection and carbon dioxide extinguishing system for ships. The company, headquartered in Mebane, North Carolina, rapidly became a leading manufacturer of fire detection and suppression equipment. It was acquired by United Technologies Corporation in 2005. The main About Us page is here.


Products/Services: B
Kidde’s main About page gets right to the point: “Founded by Walter Kidde, a pioneer in early smoke detection and fire suppression, Kidde is the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products.” Well done: it’s surprising how few About Us pages express such basic business history information promptly and pithily. The page continues with a well-written and well-laid-out overview of the company’s history, goals, and relationships with clients.

Bravo, too, for giving a very company-specific goal on the Core Values page: “At Kidde, our mission is to provide solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. And for more than 90 years, industry leaders, the military, airlines, firefighters, businesses and millions of homeowners have turned to us to do exactly that.”

The page on Walter Kidde includes an effective combination of a brief timeline followed by a narrative that explains his goals and accomplishments. The Kidde History page offers a company timeline with 24 items, a reasonable number that doesn’t overload the visitor. One minor quibble: the entries for the 1960s and later focus on mergers and acquisitions; why not include some information on the company’s innovations?

The major flaw of the four Kidde About Us pages is lack of illustrations. The one and only image is of Walter Kidde. Our Commandment 6 of About Us pages is, “Honor thy visuals.” A company with a 98-year history surely has a rich archive of historical photos and advertising material that could be put to good use in corporate storytelling.

Personality: C
Our Commandment 3 of About Us pages is, “Reveal they personality.” Since this company still bears Walter Kidde’s name and still produces products in the same line, the stress on the founder’s innovations and goals is very appropriate. Still, information on current management--a message from the CEO, for example--would be welcome.

Accessibility: D
The Contact Us page has a “Find Answers Now” button that dead-ends in a blank page. The FAQ seems to have been shifted to tabs that appear on the page with the online email form (via the "Email a Question" button on the Contact Us page). Yes, visitors may stumble onto the right page--but making them stumble leaves a bad impression. Our Commandment 9 of About Us Pages is “Worship clarity”--which includes triple-checking links so you don’t look careless.

At the end of the Contact Us page is a telephone number, but no mailing address. Kidde is part of United Technologies, but there are no links to the United Technologies contact page, either.

Great corporate history should be supplemented with great images and current information. That’s doubly important when a 100-year business anniversary is on the horizon, as Kidde’s is.

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.