6. Use testimonials from happy customers whenever possible.
While critiquing the home page of a small resume-writing service, Ash asked the business's owner how many customers he's had so far. The answer: more than 10,000. "Why isn't that number on your landing page?" Ash asked. "There's a reason why McDonald's says how many customers it's served," he added. A high volume of customers can give prospects confidence in a product or service.
7. Keep text to a minimum, and make it easy to read.
On the Web, people "don't want to read a lot of stuff," Ash said. Convey what you need them to know as concisely and compellingly as possible.
Serif fonts contain more "design" and ornamentation than sans serif fonts and can be harder to read, Ash said. All caps are annoying to most people, because it's like carrying on a conversation with someone who's shouting the entire time.
And one of the worst things you can do to a landing page visitor is to put white text over a black background (or some other equally difficult color combination). You've purposely made their job as a reader more difficult.
8. Avoid extra scroll bars.
Some sites put a box of text on a landing page with its own scroll bar to keep surrounding images or content in place as the reader scrolls through the text. This is another potential turn-off to site visitors, Ash said, and a sign that "you're trying to control their experience too much."
9. Think twice about linking your Facebook page to your landing page.
One audience member offered up his landing page, which provides frequent flyer mileage deals, for review. The company's Facebook Fan page was linked to the landing page. In a box on the landing page's right-hand side, you could see how many fans the company's Facebook page had as well as pictures of the fans -- which included a photo of a cat.
"Is that the image you want to convey to someone who visits your site?" Ash asked. "A picture of a cat?You're usually better off not showing your Facebook fans on your site."
10. Design a landing page for visitors, not for search engine optimization (SEO).
Ash critiqued a landing page that offered a search box, multiple navigational tabs and text links, and photos directing users to products based on industry, such as "Hospitality" and "Healthcare." He said the page clearly looked as if it were designed for SEO.
By placing the emphasis on SEO, however, a landing page can "ruin the user experience," he said. If you need to add keyword-rich descriptions or other text for SEO purposes, put them at the bottom of the page, Ash advised.
Ultimately, Ash advised attendees to never forget what the goal of the landing page is and to develop a clear idea for how to best achieve that goal. Remember that most visitors to a landing page are early in the buying cycle. "Make them believe in you at that early stage," he said.
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