Crafting a Concise About Page
with Jeremy Osborn, Director of Learning at Aquent Gymnasium
In this tutorial, you’ll learn three ways to create a compelling and unique About page for your online portfolio.
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- Are people still using contact forms? by Birgitta Rún Sveinbjörnsdóttir
- Gymnasium: Making a Great First Impression with Your Portfolio
- Gymnasium: Taking Your Portfolio Case Studies to the Next Level
Crafting a Concise About Page
with Jeremy Osborn
Jeremy Osborn: Your online portfolio is essentially the first step of a job interview, only you’re not there in person, so your website needs to do the work for you. Specifically, the About page has become the standard place to organize information that helps people understand what type of person you are both in and outside of work.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn three tips on how to craft a concise About page to convince people that you’re someone they might want to work with. Now, I looked at numerous examples, and I came to the conclusion that there is no single formula for how to write your About page. Some people include a description of their skills. Some people write in third person. Some include a list of awards. And some include insights into their personal life.
Ultimately, I discovered that the best pages had one thing in common.
Big idea: Namely, a great About page strengthens the impact of a good first impression.
So if someone’s taking the time to read your About page, it means you’ve done a good job getting them that far. They’re now curious to learn more about you, and it’s time to draw them in further.
So how do you do that?
Tip number one: Decide what’s most important to you and explain why.
So your about page is a golden opportunity for you to control the conversation and emphasize the type of work you want to do in the future.
Here’s a typical example of what a UX (user experience) designer might say in their portfolio copy:
User flows are great because they allow you to see the big picture without getting bogged down with the details. They help users reach their intended goals more quickly. So absolutely true, but also kind of passive. Communicating why you love creating user flows is going to become much more compelling.
So you could say something like this:
Top three reasons why making user flows is my jam!
- They help communicate design to clients.
- They help my team get better insights from usability tests.
- They help web developers like me.
So this description tells the user much more about your industry experience and adds a little bit of humor, signaling that you might be a fun person to work with. Now, defining what’s important to you is not always easy. But if you don’t take the time and effort to do it, someone else will.
Tip number two: Use a trustworthy and authentic voice.
In the real world, you begin a job interview by shaking hands, smiling, and looking the other person in the eye, the goal here being to convey trust, friendliness, and authenticity. But these goals are harder to achieve with a website. So you need to find good substitutes.
Now, humans are hardwired by evolution to seek faces. And without one on your site, you’re missing an opportunity to develop trust. So adding a profile photo can add a sense of reassurance and connect you virtually to your visitors.
Now, if you have the budget, a good photographer can be worth it.
But if you want to do it on your own, here’s a professional secret: Whatever number of photos you think you need, take two to three times more than that.
It sounds obvious, but too many people just take a couple of photos and call it a day. No. Every photo you have increases your chance of choosing one you’re happy with.
Now, another way to foster credibility is through testimonials. Recommendations from past or current coworkers or employers are a great start.
But here’s a pro tip: Give a recommendation to get a recommendation.
By giving someone a recommendation first, you actually set the tone for the type of recommendation you want back, not to mention increase the odds that you’ll actually receive it.
Finally, adding details about your personal life is a matter of finding a good balance. No detail subliminally portrays you as a boring person, no matter how unfair that seems. Too much detail is also a bad idea because chances are the visitor will just quit reading before they get to the end. Somewhere here in the middle is the sweet spot of just enough information. But your job, of course, is to make it authentic and engaging.
Tip number three: Make it easy for people to contact you.
So if you’ve done a good job with everything up to this point, people will be eager to meet you. But don’t waste your hard work by playing hard to get. A contact form is an obvious choice. But these are becoming less popular for a variety of reasons, and I’ve been seeing a lot less of them recently.
One replacement I’ve noticed is people putting a laundry list of their social media in their contact section. My problem here is that offering multiple options with no clear direction is just adding confusion at the exact time when it should be simple.
So what’s the solution? Simply tell people your preferred method of contact, whatever that is.
Just make it clear so your visitor can reach you with confidence, which in many ways is the entire point of a portfolio.
For more information, check out our Resources section. And be sure to check out our other Take 5 tutorials, as well as the entire course catalog, here at Gymnasium.