Here’s the background: I was asked to make a landing page for one of our clients so I got started on it right away. After I was done, I asked my awesome boss to review it and give me some feedback and constructive criticism. He sat down in my seat and started scrolling. That’s where it all went down hill.
He started shredding apart the page and questioning all my design choices. As I was frantically writing everything down, I started feeling really bad. It totally went against everything I believed in.
I am a UX designer, not a graphic designer.
While there are some similarities, there are many differences between the two. A graphic designer mostly deals with the visual aspects of design, such as colors, imagery and typography. In a nutshell, a graphic designer just cares about making whatever they’re designing look good.
Thats where UX comes in. We care about the experience our users have with the product. We focus not only on design, but on information architecture, interaction design, usability etc.
UX design focuses on the logic and structure behind the elements people interact with on any website or app. UX Designers, through different methods, solve user-specific problems and discover ways to ease the pain points.
Your goal is to become familiar with your visitors and gain insight on their mindsets and behaviors.
The information you uncover will influence the design and copy of the landing page. The audience can be culturally diverse which can affect the way they interpret what you say.
Two ways to do this research, according to Tommy Walker from ConversionXL, is by conducting surveys and interviews. These methods give you an understanding into the user’s pain points, level of online exposure and more. You will uncover trends within your target audience that tell you things analytics alone can’t.
The purpose is to ensure the page is in-line with the user’s expectations.
“Surely, what is appealing to a 54 year old mother of 5 who goes online to check Facebook and Metafilter will be vastly different from a Google Glass wearing, 27 year old power-user of social networks you haven’t even heard of yet.” -Tommy Walker?
In Tim Ash’s book, Landing Page Optimization, he writes, “Visual presentation creates the powerful first impression that is responsible for many visitors leaving your site within the first few seconds of arriving… The first impression of the aesthetic quality persists and colors out all subsequent judgements about visitors’ experience with your site.”
Design is the first thing users notice when they come to your landing page. Users develop a powerful emotional reaction to the design before having a chance to read through the copy.
According to many studies in psychology, color has a strong emotional impact on people and can dramatically change their moods. Nick Kolenda, a researcher of perception and behavior, emphasizes the idea to consider your target market before choosing a color scheme. Some things to research include discovering if these people have recurring exposure with a specific color and if the association is good or bad? His findings are extremely interesting and I would recommend reading his guide on it.
Below is a snippet of a color table he created based on his findings. It is useful to refer to this before choosing colors for anything.
Take advantage of the power of design and revolve it around the conversion action.
According to many, headlines are the top-scanned element on a page and is a deciding factor for next steps.
Neil Patel listed the headline as the #1 essential thing for a high converting landing page. A headline should be attention grabbing, clearly informing the audience what the product or service is all about and should be short and to the point.
One should aim to make their headline no longer than 10 words. When displaying an image or graphic that is self explanatory, it is not necessary to go into so much detail.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding on a headline:
A user should be able to tell you what the product or service is about before scrolling or clicking anything. Therefore, make your headline and subheadline as clear and informative as possible.
Imagery is like a double edged sword. When used correctly, they influence the users to complete the desired actions but when used inattentively, it can distract users from the conversion goal.
A study conducted by MIT researchers, published in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, discovered that it takes only 13 milliseconds to process an image. Therefore, people are subconsciously creating an opinion in the first 1/13th of a second which ultimately influences the rest of the time they are on your page.
And so, if an image is the first thing one sees, make sure it’s a good one. Especially because of the Picture Superiority Effect, which refers to the phenomenon that pictures and images are more likely to be remembered than words.
Regarding stock photos, if you choose a picture that is at all similar to an image on a different website, any feelings whether they are negative or positive that the user experienced there will be brought to your page. This can potentially reduce trust or even cause the visitor to leave.
Jakob Nielsen, a web usability consultant with a Ph.D. in human–computer interaction, has an awesome line on the topic of copy.
“How users read on the web: They don’t.”
We don’t have time to read every word because we’re so busy with so many other “important” things so we simply scan for words and phrases.
We are constantly multitasking and thinking about a million things at once. For me personally, even as I write this bog, I am thinking about my plans for the weekend, what I’m making for dinner tonight and how I am in the mood of sourdough bread with avocado and a poached egg on top (with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper). Alright, let’s get back to it.
Therefore, when writing for a landing page, our goal should be to minimize the users' cognitive load. This is beneficial because this enables users to focus on the conversion goal instead of trying to understand what you’re telling them. This can be done by using an active voice (and action verbs), which according to Nick Kolenda is more persuasive.
In action sentences, the subject performs the action and in passive sentences, the subject is the recipient of the action. Here’s an example:
Passive: Some amazing techniques are uncovered in this course.
Active: This course uncovers some amazing techniques.
I don't know about you but I find it much easier to comprehend the second sentence.
Passive sentences are grammatically complex causing a decrease in persuasion.
Ash talks about the inverted pyramid structure (See image below). This is an established format for web writing that is proven to work. This almost ensures that your page visitors will leave with the most important information about your product or service. In this format, you put the conclusions and key points first and everything that supports it after. (Kind of like the sprinkles on a cupcake.)
Another thing Ash talks about in his book is avoiding Marketese. This is when there is a promotional tone regarding copy. We are wired to ignore things that are trying too hard to get our attention and once someone comes to your page, you are no longer competing against other companies. Therefore you could lower your tone of voice by providing objective information.
There is a lot of debate about the next part and there doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer but I will tell you my findings. There is evidence that shows that shorter text results in higher retention and recall of information which ultimately leads to more conversions.
There is a great article on the matter. It’s pretty lengthy so I’ll just sum it up for you in two words.
The three factors depend on:
Here is a matrix that may be helpful for you to decide whether your content should be long or short. This matrix was created by Rob Marsh, a conversion copywriter and content strategist at Brandstory Content and Copy, who revised Bob Kempers original version (Who is Bob Kemper you might ask? He’s the Director of Sciences at MECLABS).
Another matrix made by Joanna Wiebe called the State of Awareness Scale also clearly shows when long vs. short copy is needed.
The CTA button should be clear and inform the user what is going to happen when they click the button. For example, instead of having the button write “Submit” have it say “Start My Free Trial.”
In addition, write it from the perspective of the user. When coming up with the copy of the button, try to finish the thought of the visitor. “I want to _______ “(Get More Information, Download the PDF).
Some people say that your CTA button should be standard language but it really depends on the feel you want to give off. If you want to look more playful and have a less serious feel you can write something like, “Send My Awesome Resume,” “Let’s Do This!” or “Follow the Magic” which is shown below.
A CTA button is something that should really be focused on because it is usually what finalizes the conversion.
Not only is the verbiage important but the design of it is important as well. Your goal is to call attention to it. Some ways to do this is by using a contrasting color, putting it in a noticeable place, and not have it compete with any other element on the page.
The format of the landing page is key. According to Tim Ash, never make a user scroll to find important information and the CTA button.
It is important when having a long landing page to make it very engaging because you don’t want to lose your user’s attention.
An established way of structuring your page is:
After your landing page is complete, it is important to monitor its performance. Look at the conversion rate and the bounce rate. Are they what you expected?
You can go even further by creating heatmaps and user recording sessions to see how people are interacting with different elements on your page.
Furthermore, create different versions and do some A/B testing. It is crucial to update your page to ensure it’s up to date and appropriate for your audience.
Now that I have all this written down, I’m going to start working on my new landing page.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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