First impressions matter. We do judge books by their covers, why would the publishing industry put so much effort into designing them otherwise? It’s also why authors who self-publish ebooks are routinely advised to employ a professional designer for their covers. For most startups, their product landing pages are the equivalent – it is arguably the single most important location that has a bearing on product success.
A landing page is a unique opportunity to meet your potential users/clients for the first time. It’s important to understand, that you have just a few seconds to convince them to engage with an action. User activation is by no means simple, but can be boosted with lots of little hacks (read about them in my next post, coming soon). On the other hand, there are some whopping mistakes you must avoid at all costs. This far into the 21st century, nobody should be saying things like:
“A new landing page? But we already have one.”
Take a look at some old magazines. The older they are, the more you will notice how they differ from recent publications. It’s not just the images that date, it’s the style of writing and even the layout. The same is true for landing pages, except that the pace of change in the online world is 10-times faster. Your landing page must evolve constantly to remain fresh, relevant and appealing. A/B testing is a great way to improve your landing page by ruling out elements that don’t work and testing new ones that increase conversion. Eventually though, the time comes when a few tweaks aren’t enough and an all-new landing page becomes a must.
“What goal? It’s just for information surely.”
If you don’t know why users should be visiting your site, then neither will those visitors. What is the point in promoting your page? You may be offering information, but there are plenty of other sites on the web doing the same thing, so what makes your site special and worthy of people’s time? If you are to successfully grab and hold the attention of internet users – always only a click away from an alternative – you need to have a clear goal in mind. Everything on a landing page should lead to one goal. It can be anything – a specific click, a sign-up or getting someone to read your post.
If you want people to buy your product online (e.g. in the case of SaaS), your main goal should be to make people sign up. Your landing can even consist of just a sign-up form. As long as it converts, that’s all you may need. Don’t make people choose what to do, give them one option and make it glaringly obvious. It might be tempting to include a link to pictures of your last team-building BBQ or something equally unimportant, but always ask yourself the question: “Will this make people sign up?”
“We all have to take part in design”
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but informed opinions are generally best. Landing pages have a very short window of opportunity in which to grab the flickering attention of internet users. (Btw, have you read: “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug? If not, please do, now.) If there is one part of your website where you need help from people who really understand the user experience and conversion-centred design, its your landing page. Define a goal for you landing page and then leave the rest to people who know what they’re doing.
The fewer people who participate in the design, the better. The last thing you want is to find yourself sitting in a meeting with people who have no clue about conversion centered design, but have a lot to say about it. See that guy on the right? His smile says: “I have no idea what I’m doing”.
“It has to be beautiful & modern”
The internet may be for everyone, but your product probably isn’t. By figuring out your product/market fit, you define your target group. This is why your site shouldn’t be for everyone – it has to be appealing to your target group and reflect their tastes. Modern and minimalist might be a great look for a young audience, but it’s not necessarily the way to go for a site selling stuff to an older demographic.
An old-school look may be the best approach for a landing page about truck services, while one for young children might use bright colors that adults would find over the top. It all comes down to what works for conversion. Considering that point is the first step before you start doing anything else.
“The more info the better!”
Less is more. In other words, the less information there is, the easier it is for the visitor to find what you want them to find. Of course, this assumes that the overall design is effective and makes it straightforward for a visitor to know exactly what he/she has to do. Keep your landing page short, sweet and simple and let your visitor move on to where you want them to go without any distractions.
“Why a mobile version?”
Why bother making your landing page responsive if it looks perfectly fine on a computer screen? Because in 2013, over 17% of internet traffic was from mobile devices, and that’s only going to grow. You may think that your customers won’t visit your landing page on their phones or tablets, but they will, if they aren’t already doing so. And people get really irritated if they have to zoom in and then move the page back and forth to read the text. Make sure that your landing page is easily readable on a small screen, is clear and, most importantly, has a direct call to action button big enough to be clicked on a smartphone screen. Otherwise, your conversion rate for mobile users will be feeble.
PS. And never, never, never use cheesy stock photos..