Landing pages could be described as the ultimate web design challenge. This is a bold claim, but just think about it: cramming a compelling proposition into one page, let alone just the space above the fold, is an extremely difficult task. With such a limited scope, every extraneous word becomes a waste of precious space, and only the most crucial elements can be spared for the final design. But how do you narrow your design down to these essential components?
First, you need to strip down your written content to a succinct minimum. Once you know what concepts you want to express, you can supplement or replace portions of your text with visuals. Read on to learn more about the process of refining your landing page into a perfect proposition.
Streamline Your Content
So much needs to be accomplished in the limited amount of space that a landing page provides: your offer must be engaging and convincing, reliable, and sincere, but also concise. This combination can only be achieved by creating crucial statements that are arranged in a particular hierarchy. The two most essential elements of your written content are your headline and your call to action.
A Compelling Headline
The goal of any landing page’s headline should be to attract immediate attention with a captivating statement. In some cases the imagery takes over this function, but for the most part a gripping headline is crucial to a landing page’s success.
Compare for example, the text on Crowdspottr with the text on Everest. Although they have the same objective (to get people to download their app), and about the same amount of copy, there’s an obvious winner when it comes to evaluating the appeal of each. Crowdspottr has a confusing hierarchy without enough differentiation; it leads users to read the instructional portion of the text before they find the headline above. In contrast, Everest uses a clear hierarchy to direct attention to its intriguing headline on the right. And in addition, its rotating ending makes the headline far more interesting than a static alternative.
A Strong Call to Action
A call to action should be completely obvious, to the point where it might even be the first thing you see. Often differentiated with contrasting color, your CTA should also look obviously clickable, so the users know they can interact with it.
It’s always best to have just one CTA on a landing page; when user attention is split between two CTAs, both will suffer. The exception is when the call to action represents two ways to fulfill the same basic action.
The Kaleidoscope landing page shows this principle in action; it has two buttons that both let you download the app, but one is a free trial and the other is an outright purchase. Because they both fulfill the objective of the download, they don’t compete with each other.
Consider Your Imagery
Once you’ve perfected your written content, you have a structure on which to build your visual strategy. There are fewer universal rules when it comes to landing page imagery, because so many decisions rely on your particular audience and product, but there are still several choices that any landing page designer must make, namely the type of imagery, the colors, and the way transitions work.
Background and Foreground Images
If you can’t solely rely of a truly gripping headline and a simple layout to sell your product, you’ll need to put some serious thought into the best kind of imagery for your landing page. For some, the issue is mostly one of adding visual texture and interest: creating a mood rather than making a statement. SquareSpace’s photographic background does just this.
For others, the images are needed to break up text and to convey concepts. This can be accomplished with pure imagery or it can also be done with iconography. SugarSync gives an example of how icons can be that vital addition that make text inexpressibly more palatable.
A great video that’s visually engaging and to the point can be a superbly effective focus for your landing page. After all, people are far more likely to devote their attention to watching a video than to reading a paragraph of text.
Videos can also be a supplementary component to a good landing page. For example, Animoto incorporates video into a section lower on the page that shows their product in action. This technique can pull double duty if you make sure the still of the video is a great image as well. So even if it isn’t the first thing a viewer sees, video is usually a good addition.
Good Color Choices
Although color has already been discussed as a means of differentiating important elements, it’s also a powerful contributor when it comes to setting a mood. Basic color psychology is often applied to marketing strategies, using certain hues to encourage different reactions.
My Asset Tag’s guide to intangible assets strategically uses a bright coral color to emphasize the phrase “intangible assets” and draw the viewers’ eyes to the most important elements on the page (as seen in the two images below). This effectively calls attention to what My Asset Tag is discussing and guides the viewer through the landing page.
Of course, while it’s a good goal to have as much of your content above the fold as possible, for most landing pages it’s just not feasible to maintain and attractive and legible design that accomplishes all its narrative goals in a glance. So if your landing page extends beyond to fold, consider maintaining the user’s attention with interesting transitions. SimpliSafe’s layered defense home security landing page has a visual evolution that unfolds entertainingly as you scroll down the page, which keeps viewers engaged as they see rooms in a house come together.
Once you’ve streamlined your landing page down to the essentials, you’ll be well on your way to making the conversions that you’ve been hoping for. Just make sure to use a guide to CRO to make sure that your copy is aimed to convert. Although landing page design is a challenge, a good one can be an amazingly effective tool for any business.
image credit: nasa.gov
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Rob Toledo is Outreach Coordinator at Distilled, aka marketing coordinator with experience heavily focused online. Technologically driven, with a love for SEO, outreach, link building, content creation, conversion rate optimization, advertising, copywriting, graphic design, SEO, SEM, CRO, Google Analytics, social media, creative content…you get the picture. He blogs at stenton toledo