Tag Archive: websites
Picking up from the last post on landing page design, which focused on textual density at the top of the page, this one looks at the issue of ads.
It’s generally fine to have ads on your landing pages, but you need to give serious thought to what kinds of ads you allow and how they appear. Here are some problems that could drive away your website visitors:
- Pop-ups. Pop-ups are irritating. People usually just want to swat them away when they show up, and many turn on their browser’s pop-up blocker to avoid dealing with them. You should think carefully about having any pop-ups at all. They can cause browsers to crash and interfere with how people engage with your webpage. If you’re determined to have pop-ups, try not to have more than one. A swarm of them won’t just annoy people; it will make you look spammy and disreputable.
- Ads everywhere. When someone visits your site, they might be trying to research a topic or purchase a certain product. You have to make it easy for them to know where to click and where to look on the page for the information they want. Too many ads on your page will distract visitors and make it more difficult for them to navigate your site. With ads everywhere, your page also looks spammy and cheap.
- Nauseating ads. A political blog I occasionally visit used to have ads about toenail fungus that would crop up between posts and feature close-ups of yellow, crumbly toenails. Eventually, they got taken down after enough visitors complained and the blog manager figured out how to disable them. When you put up ads, be mindful of what they might show and listen to feedback from website visitors. You may not always have control over what your visitors see, as ads could be based on their personal search history, but if visitors keep complaining about your ads, look into the issue.
- Distracting ads. You hope that visitors will click on your ads, sending some revenue your way. However, make sure they don’t overwhelm your site’s content. This can happen even if you only have a few ads. Maybe they’re huge and garish, clashing with the tone of your page. Maybe they expand over your content as you move the mouse across them. Whatever the case happens to be, don’t let them detract from your content.
A poor use of ads is a serious landing page design problem, making your site look unprofessional. Take care with the kinds of ads you choose and where you place them on the page.
(Image links to source: Marc van der Chijs on Flickr, with this license)
Recently, Entrepreneur.com came out with a list of “10 Tips for Writing Better Online Marketing Content.” The advice on the list is solid. It also suggests a balancing act that you undertake when writing content for the web (not only for marketing purposes, but more generally).
- Most readers are looking for specific information or wish to accomplish a specific task, so you need to make sure they can quickly find what they’re looking for on your site and give them the content they want… at the same time, you hope your content is also catchy enough to grab the attention of strays – people who are either idly browsing or didn’t start out specifically looking for what you can offer, but are intrigued enough to suddenly take a look.
- Writing that’s informal and conversational tends to work best in most circumstances… at the same time, you need to make sure you look professional in all of your communications; no sloppiness, no thoughtless remarks. And in some situations, you’ll need writing that’s more formal; just keep in mind that ‘formal’ doesn’t have to mean ‘dull’ or ‘condescending.’
- Overall, people do quite a bit of reading online… but at the same time, they generally want to read as little as possible when visiting any given site. There are, however, some exceptions; occasions when they would like to read in-depth, finding out more about a topic or a product. Will the content offered on your site accommodate both skimming and closer perusal?
Accommodating the needs of your readers while remaining true to your own voice and vision requires a deftness with words. It also calls for an ability to put yourself in the shoes of web users, particularly the people who are most likely to be your customers or loyal fans.
When people arrive at the landing page of your website, what do they see? If it’s a wall of text, they’ll most likely hit the back button. You’ll be losing a new visitor: a potential fan, customer, future colleague or employee.
Take care with what’s above the fold
You can use every trick at your disposal to get people to come to your site, but they usually won’t stay long when confronted with dense text. On the web, people mostly scan instead of read. As such, the topmost part of your webpage – the section above the fold – should convey with as few words as possible what visitors can expect on your site. It needs to grab them with a catchy title, tagline, well-selected graphics, and clearly labeled links pointing visitors to other pages on your site.
Even if visitors don’t immediately hit the back button, but instead stick around to peer at the dense text, you’re still stuck with a landing page design problem: Heavy text tends to bury what’s around it, such as your call to action, other links, or a special feature you wish to highlight on your site.
What about the rest of your landing page?
Below the fold you can include more text if you need to. However, keep it from appearing dense. Format the text with bullet points and lists. Keep paragraphs relatively short and use headers. Site visitors should be able to quickly scan and pick up the main points, and then settle down to read more closely if they wish to.
If you’d like to share a lot of information with visitors, break it up into sub-pages and link to them from your landing page. Try not to cram everything onto one page.
Scanning, then reading
The bottom line is that visitors will scan first to get the gist of your site, or to try to quickly find what they’re looking for, such as a link to a certain product or your CV. As far as text goes, it should be organized for easy scanning as visitors make a first pass through your site; of course, everything still needs to be clear and well-written for those who decide to stick around and take a closer look.
*The image links back to its source (Wikipedia).