Editor’s note: This article was originally published April 30, 2007.

Since the inception of the Web, sites have evolved from online brochures to sophisticated applications, providing interaction along with information as well as many more features. While Web sites have evolved, users still want and need information, and companies still need to push their products or services. This post examines one component of a Web site that is used to interact with potential or existing customers: landing pages.

Clear to land

Web sites often include one or more landing pages that are created for a very specific purpose. This includes attracting new customers, collecting leads, gathering information, and so forth. Links to landing pages are often included in e-mails.

When a user arrives on your site, you want them to do something like make a purchase, register for a newsletter, and so forth. Taking action results in a conversion and getting these conversions is a critical aspect of a successful site, e-mail campaign, etc.

Theoretically, any site page can be considered a landing page since a search engine or another link may deliver a user to it. For the sake of this article, landing pages will be defined as unique pages constructed to welcome people from a particular e-mail campaign, newsletter, or another marketing effort. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the elements of an effective landing page.

Elements of a landing page

Designing an effective landing page can mean the difference between getting and not getting a customer. In terms of page layout and design, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Place the company or product logo in the upper left corner of the page. All graphics should be related to the offer or idea presented.
  • Use headlines that clearly state the biggest benefit(s) of an offer. Headlines are very important since they are most often the first line that a user reads.
  • Be concise and get to the point because users usually scan a page’s content as opposed to give it a close reading. Bullets allow a user to quickly scan the content. The key is providing a direct path to the offer presented on the page (i.e., the reason the user landed on the page).
  • Don’t place external links on the page. Provide only the options that you want to the user to choose such as completing a form or placing an order.
  • Design with 640 x 480 screen resolution in mind and avoid forcing the user to scroll horizontally.
  • Keep in mind that the most important area of the page/screen is in front of the user, so place everything important above the fold of the page. Content placed below the fold is often lost, as users do not bother to scroll to read it.
  • Disclose data collection practices by clearly posting privacy policies.
  • When collecting data via forms, keep the number of fields on the form as small as possible. After all, a user is more likely to complete a small form, whereas a lengthy list of questions may discourage them. A check box allowing the user to opt in or out, of e-mail communications is a standard practice.

Test, test, and test some more

The first step is testing to ensure the page meets the technical specifications and works as planned in the targeted browsers. Once you are certain it works as designed, you can move on to testing whether the page actually meets its business need.

By determining the effectiveness of the message on the page, you will learn what works best with regards to the copy, layout, and presentation. This type of testing may involve focus groups, or it may be as simple as tracking page usage via the Web logs. Items to test include page colors, fonts, element placement, and so forth along with button presentation, product pricing, text, etc. Web analytics and statistics software may be utilized to gauge site traffic and usage.

What are your tips for creating landing pages?

If you use landing pages in your applications or marketing efforts, are there any tips to creating these pages that you would like to add to this list? Which method do you prefer to use to measure the effectiveness of such pages? Share your thoughts with the Web development community by posting to the discussion.

Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.


Get weekly development tips in your inbox
Keep your developer skills sharp by signing up for TechRepublic’s free Web Developer newsletter, delivered each Tuesday. Automatically subscribe today!