WWW… Wednesday! Landing Pages
First impressions are important. A website’s landing page is the first interaction with a user and it’s got a massive job to do. It needs to grab attention, inform the user of the site’s purpose, establish an emotional connection, and it needs to look good while doing so. Visitors will quickly decide whether or not to spend more time on the site based on these initial interactions. If the page is slow to load or an element is non-functional, the visit will start and end on the landing page.
To ensure that the brand identity and its product or service are all communicated in these first critical moments, it’s important to have a strategy in place. Naturally, none of this will be possible without a clear understanding of the brand identity. With a comprehensive style guide in hand, crafting a powerful landing page that aligns with the company ideals becomes much easier, but often this process will take place as part of a larger brand identity development where all of the various components are being designed simultaneously.
In this case, it can feel a bit like a juggling act. With everything still in development, it can be hard to assess the success of the individual components, let alone how they work in a system together. Having a clear sense of the brand’s identity and a few keywords to hone in on will help guide all of the aesthetic choices like shape language, color, typography, and content, to ensure they all communicate a consistent message. When it comes to landing pages, however, there are some unique considerations that will be at the forefront of your design process. While the aesthetic design choices serve more as the vehicle, or the how, for how the message is delivered, the bigger questions to ask are what and why. As in why did the user visit the site, what are they looking for?
A common means of quickly answering these questions is via a large hero image. These images serve to inform the user of what to expect on the site and often include a call to action. What is it you want users to do on your site? If it’s an e-commerce site, your aim will likely be to direct them to a sales funnel. In this case, the landing page might employ a carousel of images that direct visitors to the site’s best selling items. If you offer a service or product, your aim might be to build trust and convince users to choose your brand over a competitor. A video that demonstrates your process or product, or offers some insight into what your company stands for and the people behind it would help to establish an emotional connection with your visitor. Demonstrating similar values and attaching names and faces to a business is a great way to establish familiarity and ingratiate yourself with the customer.
The most appropriate approach will depend on the type of service or product offered and the targeted clientele. For e-commerce sites, using a long scrolling landing page that outlines the company’s history and vision for the future is sure to result in bad metrics. However, for more artisanal goods and services like a long-running shoe cobbling business, or a new micro-brewery, insight into their stories might be exactly what their clientele is looking for. It all depends on the audience.
There are definite trends within different markets but they are always rooted firmly in strategy. If you survey the competition and notice a trend, chances are it’s in use because it works. It’s common for breweries to use videos and digital service providers to use loose almost childish illustrations on their landing pages. These decisions illustrate the type of clientele each is after. The craft beer connoisseur wants a story, they want to know where their beer comes from, who makes it, and how it’s made. When choosing a newsletter service, potential customers might align more with the quirky illustrations and laid-back feel of a service like Mailchimp when compared with the stiff formalness of their competitors.
While powerful tools when appropriate, landing pages aren’t always necessary. They exist mostly for visitors unfamiliar with the brand or company who likely found the site through a search engine. They serve to answer frequently asked questions and aim to capture attention and create conversions, whether that be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or scheduling a visit. If visitors come to your site, for example, to view your portfolio, a landing page might just be a nuisance. As always, design exists to solve a problem, so whether or not to use a landing page and which type to choose will all depend on the answers to those first initial questions. Who is coming to my site, what are they looking for, and what do I want them to do? As long as your design answers these questions, you’re on the right track.