Designing a Web page is a skill that takes into account who is going to see that page, what they want, and what actions you want them to take.
Most people think that Web design is about writing HTML code, choosing colors, page layout, and so on. It's not. It actually has more to do with marketing and strategy than anything else.
Being able to deliver the right content to the right audience so that they convert (i.e. take an action you want - sign up, buy something, leave a comment, etc) is what it's all about.
Before you start creating a Web page
There's absolutely no point in working on a new landing page if you don't already know the answer to the following questions...
1. Who is this page for?
Are you looking to reach out to people who want to buy something? Are they after information? Are they in college? School? Retired? Professional? Wealthy?
Who your audience is plays a big role in the type of content you need to supply - not to mention the way it is laid out and presented.
2. What is their intent?
At any one time, a single person may be in the mood to buy something, watch a funny video, get into an argument about differences of opinion, and so on.
Knowing who you want to reach out to is not the same as knowing when to reach them with your message.
User intent is something big brands ignored as they rushed to build up Facebook likes and Twitter followers as social media grew.
They got almost no return on investment from the millions of dollars spent on social media marketing campaigns - because people on Facebook weren't necessarily looking to buy their products while using social networks.
3. What information do they need?
Even if you can reach the right person at the right time, you're still not going to have much success if you don't provide compelling information.
Someone who is doing research over what service to use is not looking for the same information as someone who has decided which service to use, but wants a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Marry your content to the user's intent for the highest possible conversion rates.
4. What action should they take?
Talking of conversions, even if you get all three of the previous steps right there's no guarantee that visitors will take action.
In order to improve your chances make absolutely certain the page is easy to understand and that conversion points are clear and prominent.
Don't hide conversion points in obscure places, or behind ads. If you have a page that is designed to get someone to take an action, then make that page all about that specific action.
Layout & presentation
This is where most people start the process of designing a Web page. They agonize over shades of color, background images, font styles, and so on.
Yes, making your pages attractive and easy on the eye is important, but most good website builders have responsive templates and themes that do 99% of this work for you already.
Don't get bogged down in technical issues and minute details.
In general, what you are looking for is a page that caters for the three types of online personality:
- Early adopter: Wants bite size chunks of info, and then dives in
- Curious: Wants a bit more detailed information before trying something new
- Cautious: Wants to know everything before making a move
To do this can be quite tricky because there is only so much information you can provide before a page starts looking like a dense, complicated academic paper.
The solution is to:
- Provide a clear, concise overview with conversion points
- Add more detail lower down the page
- Provide links to more in-depth information at the bottom of the page
There's a list of great Web page designs at the bottom of this article if you want some examples of how this is done.
Measure & refine
It's important to realize that no matter how well a page is designed there is probably room for improvement.
Think of Web page design as a cycle rather than a linear process. In other words, expect to come back to the page and tweak it again and again.
Assuming you utilize some sort of analytics software on your site, you'll be able to see who comes to a page, how long they are there, and what happens.
If most people are leaving without converting then you need to do some research into whether or not the page attracts the right people, does the content match the user intent properly, and are the conversion points easy-to-understand (and find).
Great Web page designs
Well, that's the theory behind us. But what does a good landing page actually look like? The answer is almost anything, depending on what it is designed for.
Let's take a look at a few good designs that can help inspire you to improve your own pages and hopefully help increase profits.
It should be pretty clear that the focus of Shopify's landing page is to get users to sign up for a free two week trial.
They've got a great tagline. They offer proof of past success in the form of an endorsement from an existing customer.
And, most importantly, all they require is an email address to get started. So it's really easy to use.
Further down the page there is plenty more useful information for people who aren't immediately convinced (i.e. curious and cautious visitors).
YouTube's landing page is intended to help users explore and find videos they are interested in. After all, the more people watch videos, the more revenue YouTube can derive from ads.
What's interesting about this page is that it learns what users like and shows them related videos.
However, they are starting to push ads above their content, and this will, in time, degrade the user experience.
Mashable wants to suck readers into their best articles, so they lead with the hottest news and make it easy for their readers to access it.
But, recognizing that not everyone will be interested in one article, they also provide a few links to other hot topics above the fold.
Further down the page, their content is categorized by what's hot and trending. This is a great feature because it gives visitors a good indication of what the most interesting stories are.
The only problem? A great big ad at the top of the page pushes their content down, making it necessary to scroll down on slightly smaller screens.
So hopefully you have seen how different landing pages have different designs based on their audience, what those users are after, and what those websites want to get from them.
What other design features and concepts do you implement? Share your tips and ideas in the comments below.