A Designer’s View: Landing Page Design for Conversion

By Jenny DeGraff | May 15, 2013
More Articles by Jenny


4 seconds to capture attention on landing pageAs a designer, I sometimes feel at the mercy of my copywriting marketer counterparts. I wonder how much influence design can really have on the conversion rate of a landing page. Don’t people just need to be informed and persuaded by excellently prepared and relevant copy?

Not necessarily. Visitors are typically not willing to spend more than 4 seconds to decide if your page, company, or product is a good fit. They won’t scroll and they won’t read. They will scan the content and if they don’t see what they’re looking for, they simply hit the back button and move on to a competitor. So with only 4 seconds of influence, the design and layout become more important than ever.

Of course, creating a beautiful user experience has always been (or should be) the goal of any web designer. But how can we influence conversion with aesthetics to achieve the perfect landing page design?

Make the Right First Impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Yes, it’s cliché but true. A typical first impression on a landing page is that magic 4 seconds mentioned earlier. This gives you a very limited time to convince your visitor that they are in the right place. Don’t squander this time with slow loading pages, wasted space above the fold, or non-essential design elements.

Keep Brand Consistency

The landing page is not your playground for straying from your company’s branding. Keeping brand consistency builds trust in those already familiar with your company, ensuring that they are in the right place and provides an introduction to new visitors and hopefully, a lasting impression.

Move Beyond Design 101 and Focus on the Data

Fundamental design principles, like the proper use of color and contrast, directional cues, and whitespace, are promoted all over the web as something revolutionary. These principles are paramount, but good landing page design is more than making the marketing department’s content look “pretty”. It is a strategic presentation and arrangement of essential elements that will be measured by performance, not opinion.

Embrace Testing

The only way to improve performance is through testing and for some reason, many designers are anti-testing. This likely boils down to the fact that many times the winner will not be your favorite, the most aesthetically pleasing, or even the most clever design. The best design will be the one that causes the most people to take the desired action, the most often. On the surface this may seem outside of your control, but it isn’t. Through the use of testing, you can gain greater insight into your customer preferences and what influences their decisions. This translates into optimization opportunities for your landing page design and conversely improved conversion rates (and happy clients or bosses).

Here are 3 simple tests to perform before launching your landing page:

The 4 Second Test

Ask a colleague to look at your landing page for 4 seconds, then look away. Do they remember what the landing page is about? What is your call to action, the value proposition? If they can’t recall, you may not have given the most important information enough emphasis or even included it “above the fold” (visible without scrolling). It’s standard practice to include your dominant visuals like headline and call-to-action above the fold. Things like trust symbols, privacy policies, third-party meatballs also affect conversion and should be tested above and below the fold.

The Eye Squint Test

Can you squint your eyes and still tell where to click to convert? This is all about the contrast and clickable appearance of your call-to-action or button(s). You will need to test the button size, color, shape and placement. To start, your button should have enough breathing room to not blend in with surrounding text when squinting. Also consider choosing a highly contrasting color that is only used on the button and no where else on the page.

The 6 Foot Test

Get up from your desk and walk 6 feet away. Can you still tell what your landing page is about? Is your text as clear and legible as it can be? Forcing a visitor to read small, low contrast text or long blocks of low-legibility display type is a sure path to the low-conversion rates. The majority of highly successful landing pages don’t have that much text on them. And the text that is there is a minimum of 12px in size, with well-proportioned line spacing to make it easy to ingest. The images you chose should also support and direct people to the conversion action.

Once your landing page design passes these tests, you’re ready to launch. But don’t think it ends there. Continue testing every design element (and when the marketers are ready for content testing, do that too) until your landing page has evolved into a lead generating machine.

Want more landing page optimization tips? Check out our Landing Page Optimization Infographic: What You Should Be Testing and Why.

What other tips do you have for designers who want to have an impact on conversions? Continue the conversation below or give me a shout on Twitter, @JennyDeGraff.

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