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Idea: Let Wikipedia Show You What Customers Want on a Company’s About Us Page

If you’ve ever participated in creating a large organization’s website, the cartoon above will generate simultaneous smiles and cringes. Why? Because it reveals a too-familiar truth of how organization websites can fall victim to something we’ve described before: Wiio’s Law, which says that communication always fails when the Guy in Charge (say, the university president) loves it. That’s because such messaging was crafted to please the Guy in Charge rather than to serve the needs of the person receiving the message.

If you ever find yourself creating a corporate website, a better source of inspiration than the C-Suite may be trying this experiment: Think of several companies outside of your industry that you know little about but would like to learn more. After selecting those companies, compare the following two web pages: The company website’s “About Us” page and the Wikipedia article about the company.

The company’s About Us page is written and controlled by company employees, while the Wikipedia article is written and controlled by the teeming masses of the the internet. After conducting this experiment with several companies, you’ll likely find the Wikipedia articles more informative than the About Us pages. And without a doubt, you’ll discover you can find the information you’re looking for more rapidly on the Wikipedia article page. Indeed, by the final article you read, you’ll know exactly where to look on any company page to find the various types of information that interest you.

Because users have determined over the past 15 years the structure and standard display of information found on a Wikipedia company article, other users (and Google) have learned where to find various types of information about the company: its history, acquisitions, people past and present associated with it. In contrast, the design and structure of the company’s About Us page requires the user (and Google) to work harder to find what should be the official source of facts on the topic.

What this means for marketers: Create websites—and all marketing—for users. Like you, Hammock loves business executives and Google, but we love customers even more. By replacing lofty language with organized and easy-to-access information people want to find on your site, you’ll discover that your version of the cartoon’s Venn diagram will soon merge more and more into one circle.

Cartoon by: xkcd.com

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