3 principles for an effective web page

Yesterday I talked about how any page where visitors arrive on your website is a landing page. I wanted to talk about landing page design in general, but I thought it might be more interesting if you weren’t thinking about landing pages solely as where people are directed after seeing an advert. These three principles could apply to any web page.

The first rule of a landing page is that it should dovetail with the message which sent people there, so they feel immediately at home. Big websites such as those belonging to the smarter national newspapers actually change their headlines during the day to reflect where people are coming from. I’m not suggesting you do that, but if you’re running an advert which says: “Find out how to make blue widgets faster”, then the page to which you’re sending people should be headlined something like “Here’s how you make blue widgets faster”. Obvious really, but few people do it.

The second rule is to make the process of the page understandable at a glance. It should be a sales presentation, with everything that implies: why you need this, how we prove it, and what you’re going to do next. If that means people are going to have to scroll down, consider repeating the call-to-action at the top. Don’t surprise your visitors.

The third rule is that – unless the page can only be reached from somewhere which has already made the sales pitch – ensure you give people enough information to respond to your call-to-action. I often see landing pages which are nothing more than forms to complete. Does every visitor already know what they’re letting themselves in for? Nobody’s going to fill in a form without first being told what’s in it for them.

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