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Five Things Visitors Should See: Designing A Landing Page

Let’s cut straight to the chase, here: if you want a landing page, you need at least five things:

  1. A headline that succinctly states your client’s unique selling proposition.
  2. A clear demonstration of what your product is and how it works.
  3. A statement of value that shows your customer how the product will change their lives.
  4. A testimonial, press release, or other form of social support that shows that people like your product.
  5. A call to action that lays out precisely and unambiguously what the surfer should do next to move toward becoming a customer.

When you give your readers these five things — preferably all above the fold and without requiring any clicks except maybe the ‘play’ button on a demonstrative video — you give them all of the basic information and impetus they need to make a buying decision on the spot. Miss out on one of them, and you’re giving up conversions, plain and simple.

The Headline
Writing a great headline might not be your job, but giving it an easy-to-see, central location is. I’ve seen web designers arrange headlines in all kinds of ways, from the traditional middle-aligned header-bar to vertically along the left-hand side to even stranger arrangements, and it doesn’t really matter as long as two things happen. First, the surfer can unambiguously identify it as the headline, and two, changing the headline down the line doesn’t result in horrible visual problems.

The Demonstration
The demonstration should be either a video or maybe a picture (or gallery) with some supporting text. If it’s a video, it should do everything that the landing site does, in the same fashion: a catchy intro (headline), an action shot of the product doing it’s job (demonstration), a voice-over describing why you would want the product (value), a customer offering a short testimonial (support), and a call to action. Text demonstrations can be more straightforward, just describing how the product acts, as long as they lead naturally into…

The Value Statement
In many cases, this will be part and parcel of the demonstration, but it can be separated on the page as well if you really want to emphasize the value and put it ‘in their faces’. Your job as the web designer is to use visual cues to emphasize the value statement — ideally, your site’s heat map will center on the headline and value statement first, then move elsewhere.

The Support
This can be (and often is) on a sidebar or otherwise not central to the site. To minimize space but maximize effectiveness, you can create a pane that rotates between several testimonials and/or press releases about the company or product. People look for support elements after they’ve already made their decision, in order to justify it to themselves, so it doesn’t need to be that impressive — but it does need to be there.

The Call to Action
The call to action should be simple and obvious. A giant button that simply says “click here to continue” or “I want this!” works wonders. It doesn’t need to have a lot of fanfare or visual emphasis — it just needs to be easy for the customer to find and obvious in terms of how to interact with it. If it’s a squeeze page, for example, talk to your client about minimizing the amount of information the surfer needs to put in to complete the action. The easier it is to commit, the more people will do so — so make it something a cat could so by accident, and plenty of humans will do so deliberately.

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