Roche : Standing out with ‘About’

Unique company information section conveys ‘we are different’ message to jobseekers.

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The feature

The ‘About Roche’ landing page on the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s website employs a unique design which is unlike any other section of the site. A large image of a doctor in a surgical cap and mask takes up almost the entire screen, with text in the centre saying ‘Get to know Roche in brief’, and along the bottom, ‘Scroll to learn more’.

The page is responsive and scrollable, with seven mini-sections delivering specific messages about Roche’s history, business strategy and company culture: ‘A pioneer in healthcare for nearly 120 years’; ’The leader in personalised healthcare’; ‘A diverse workforce and a great place to work’; etc. Within each of these mini-sections – which are marked out by different high-quality images – a ‘> more’ hyperlink leads to further information deeper in the site. Visitors can also use a collapsible right menu to jump to a particular mini-section.

The final panel at the bottom of the page reprises the doctor image and has a menu of more traditional ‘About’ items (‘Our purpose’, ‘Our business’, ‘Our people’, etc) that also correspond to secondary items in a mega dropdown panel at the top of the page.

The takeaway

‘About Roche’ has broken with convention by borrowing its responsive, scrollable design from the latest media and tablet friendly sites – see Quartz ( or The Players’ Tribune ( for examples. One aim of ‘About us’ pages is to convey an image of the company, especially for potential jobseekers, and can be seen as an adjunct of the Careers section. In this case, the modern design manages to convey a ‘we are not afraid to be different’ message that jobseekers, especially recent university graduates, are likely to find appealing.

Normally the loss of usability associated with this type of design is a problem for corporate websites because it keeps visitors from finding information quickly. ‘About Roche’ is not immune to these issues – there is no traditional left navigation and the collapsible right menu is initially confusing (for example, it closes without warning when visitors first land on the site, and uses an unusual ‘book’ icon to re-open it). However, on balance the benefits brought by the striking design marginally outweigh usability issues in this case – but only because it is so skilfully done. It would be a mistake to use this type of design in any of the more ‘functional’ areas such as Investor relations or Media.
First published 08 October, 2014
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