The landing page of your website fulfils many functions. It’s like a front door to your website:
- it provides the user a snapshot of your topic or product
- its visual design and colors convey subtle information about your professionalism, trustworthiness, and attitude
- its links and organization reveal the structure and contents of the rest of your site
- and the words you choose and how you use them reflect on your attention to detail and dedication to your product or topic.
With your landing page conveying so much, it is important to get it right. Here are the things to consider when designing a landing page.
The first rule of landing page design is to always include a picture or video, especially if you are selling a product. The user wants to see what you have to offer, and visual representation helps to do this.
Another reason to include a picture is to prevent the page from being a wall of text, which is too dense and may scare users off. Using media is also important to prevent the page from being too sparse, which may give your site the appearance that it is unfinished.
Make sure the picture or video is relevant, of course: do not just put up a picture to have a picture. This is easy to do with the wealth of stock photos out there. Make it specific to the topic of your page.
If you are selling a product, it is a good idea to make a video showing it off and host it on YouTube. You can have even more impact and seem more professional if you host the video yourself, however this removes the social media aspects of YouTube, which can be very helpful from a marketing standpoint.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your media is high quality, and can be viewed on the majority of users’ systems. Make sure to use a common format and test it on different systems and different browsers. This will not only reveal media incompatibilities, but other design issues as well.
It is important to keep the topic of the landing page focused.
Introduce the topic or product and provide a short description, a picture, and relevant links. Do not overload the page with endless text and useless links, as this will overwhelm and confuse the user.
A good rule for text is that it should be no longer than 15 words wide. Wide columns of text are harder for the user to follow with their eyes. If your column width is too wide, your users may become lost and give up on your site. If your page has a word width of over 20 words, you need to reduce the column width.
Make sure to keep the links to a minimum in the body text of the main content area. This is because too many links in the body text is distracting and your users may be too busy clicking on links to get around to reading your content. It is best to put those links in a sidebar or along the top of the page.
A good way to assess the degree to which your site is cluttered is to do the squint test. The squint test consists of squinting your eyes until you can only see the outline and basic shape of your page. Notice areas of empty space and areas that have content. Make sure there is a good balance and that each area has a good mix of negative space and content.
Avoiding clutter refers not only to content but to design elements as well. This does not mean that you cannot have any design elements on your landing page; quite the contrary, without them your page would be boring and unappealing. The trick is to use them as a highlight or accent.
Use designs to frame your content and to fill in blank spaces. Keep the designs simple and unobtrusive. If the designs are too extravagant or eye-catching, they may distract from your content, which is what you want your user to focus on.
Use perfect grammar and spelling
One of the most important rules of landing page design is to have perfect grammar and spelling.
Nothing will turn users off faster than a spelling error or horribly constructed sentence. While it might not be fair, users do attribute spelling and grammar errors to the author’s lack of skill, expertise and authority.
Spelling and grammar errors are easy to miss, especially in your own writing. The solution is to have two or three people edit your work. Three pairs of eyes are better than one. Make sure at least one of the people editing your work is an experienced editor and is able to correct poor grammar.
The way you use words can have a powerful effect on your users. Choose your words carefully, as words have a great effect on tone and mood. For example, if you are selling flowers, keep the tone light and cheerful and avoid complex or uncommon words.
Create effective links
It’s very important to make sure that your users can recognize where the links on your page are located, what they link to, and how they relate to the links around them.
Effective linking is the cornerstone of good navigation and it is most important on your landing page, the front door to your website.
The most important aspect of effective linking is giving your links good names. The link text should be concise and descriptive. Keeping link names short will help to keep your sidebar width down, which is more appealing.
It’s also important to keep links grouped together on the side in a sidebar or along the top of the page. Links tend to get lost when they are placed in the body text in the middle of the page within paragraphs.
Organize your links in a meaningful way: alphabetical, chronological, largest to smallest, and so on. This will help users to find the link they need quickly if they can easily recognize the organization scheme you are using. A good example of this is when you see a drop down menu from which you are to select your home state, the states are usually listed in alphabetical order so you can quickly find your home state.
The final thing to consider when creating links is that the links on the page should be obvious as links. Do not make your users go hunting for links or have them clicking on words or pictures that are not links. While your users may be able to find links by hovering the mouse cursor over them, this may frustrate some. You want it to be as easy as possible for users to navigate your site.
Group links into categories, give them obvious names, and make sure they stand out as links. Your users will thank you.
Use colors wisely
The final rule when making a website landing page is to make wise use of colors.
Colors have a very strong effect on users.
- Blue conveys a sense of trust and reliability. Notice how many businesses use the color blue in their logos.
- Red is exciting, a warning, stop, or blood.
- Black can be evil, nothingness, modern, or stylish.
- Yellows and oranges are fiery, flashy, and bold.
- Green is natural, money, or calm.
Keep in mind that these are just generalizations. They vary across cultures, especially. Do some research before you choose colors for your website.
The next most important thing to keep in mind when choosing colors is to keep the number of colors to a minimum. It is nice that your browser can render hundreds of colors; it is not necessarily pleasing to the eye to have five, ten or more colors on a page. A reduced color palette will have two to four colors.
Here’s a look at the end result of what you’ll be putting together today:
You’ll need a couple of extra resources for this tutorial. You can grab them at these links:
Create a New Document in Photoshop. The size of my document is 530px by 1060px at 72DPI.
On your background layer, fill it with #E6F39F.
Use your Sun Burst Brushes and place them on a new layer. The color I’m using is #7ae008.
Now change this layer to Color Burn with an Opacity of 22%
Now come up with a word that you would like to use for this tutorial. For this tutorial I will be using the word “Juicy”. Let’s start off with the letter “J.” The font I’m using is Coaster. The font can be any color for right now, we will be changing it in a bit. Don’t forget to angle your letter by using the Free Transform tool.
Now add these layer styles by double clicking this layer.
Bevel and Emboss
This is how your letter should look
Duplicate this letter and place it underneath the original “J” layer. Move it a couple pixels over to the right and increase the Drop Shadow on this duplicated layer.
Now we will add some shadows and highlights to this letter. Create a new layer above both “J” layers. With a soft round brush #595757 darken the edges. Change this layer to Color Burn.
Create a New Layer and use a #FFFFFF soft round brush. I’m using between 30-60px brushes.
Grab your Smudge Tool (44px, Strength 50%) and smooth out your highlights like the image below.
Repeat step 10 with the addition of the smudge tool but change this layer to Overlay.
It’s a good idea to place all of the layers pertaining to the letter J in a folder to keep everything organized. Now go on and do the rest of the letters. The only thing that varies is the Color Overlay and Bevel Emboss layer styles with each of the letters. I will place screen shots of these layer styles. Letter U layer styles:
Now we are finished with the letters and it’s time to create the ooze. Create a new layer above your “J” group and with your pen tool selected make a rounded splatter and fill it with any color.
Change this layer Fill to 0%, and add these layer styles:
Now it should look like this:
But we are not done with it yet. Time to add some highlights and shadows. Use a combination of light and dark soft brushes (varying opacities), to give the ooze a slimey feel. Don’t forget to use your Smudge Tool.
Repeat those last few steps to create another one.
Add a couple more:
Lastly, we will finish it off with a puddle at the bottom. Grab your pen tool and make a shape of a puddle. With my puddle selected I used various colors like the ones for my letters to form the puddle.
Add these layer styles
Add some shadows and highlights:
Add a couple more puddles:
Now you’re done!
Principle #1: Understand Your Users and Support Their Goals
Mitchell Kapor wrote a Software Design Manifesto back in 2002, and there is a quote from this paper that I still like to use:
“If a user interface is designed ‘after the fact’ it is like designing an automobile dashboard after the engine, chassis, and all other components and functions are specified.”
Now at first glance you might be thinking no big deal, a car’s dashboard or website’s interface can be designed once you have all your core components and functionality built. But this will usually get you into trouble. Why? Because your users aren’t interacting directly with your core components — they are experiencing your system, and all that it can do for them, through the interfaces that you provide. And if these interfaces are designed after the fact, it’s almost impossible for them to be able to meet all your users’ goals. In other words, you need to first understand your users — their needs and objectives — in order to create an interface that allows them to effectively access your system’s functionality.
The important questions to ask then in creating a user-centered interface are: Who are the users? What are the main functions that the user will need? Why is the user using this particular piece of software/hardware and what are their goals? Is the software/hardware accessible by users of different experience levels? What is the most intuitive way that the user could interact with the software/hardware?
Principle #2: Make Your Interface Easy to Learn and Enjoyable to Use
For the typical iPhone owner, they don’t care about the brilliance of the software and hardware engineering that went into creating their device, they just know that it is easy and enjoyable to use. Finger swipe, tap, two-finger pinch, slingshot an angry bird. You can bet that Apple never creates anything without first considering how people will interface with their products, and I would guess that a prevailing philosophy of user-centered design at all levels of their product development lifecycle is a big reason for Apple’s success.
For websites, creating an interface that is enjoyable to use may seem less obvious, unless you are creating a complex interface for a Flash game, but being enjoyable can be as simple as a navigation structure that is straight-forward and intuitive. Even so, with more and more applications moving to the cloud and our browser becoming our operating system, creating effective, easy and enjoyable interfaces for our web products has never been more important. I recently switched from desktop based wireframing software (Axure, Omnigraffle) to an online application called Lucid Chart, and the transition was seamless because the authors made sure to create a web interface that is easy to use and familiar to those migrating from desktop programs.
Principle #3: Remain Consistent
An important concept to help the user maintain a sense of spatial orientation, and sanity, is to remain consistent. From the user’s perspective, this means not only a consistent look and feel to a system’s interfaces, but also that actions performed on the interface result in expected outcomes. If the same action is repeated, the system needs to respond in a consistent manner.
I still occasionally come across the odd website that actually changes the order of its nav bar or sub-nav links depending on what page you are on on their site. To me this is the equivalent of switching your car’s gas and brake pedals depending on whether you are driving on the highway or a side road. Interfaces need to remain consistent so that they can fade into the background and not require any higher level of concentration to use.
Principle #4: Form a Dialog with Your Users
I like an interface that speaks to me. Not literally speak to me (although that might be nice too), but an interface that uses terms that make sense and gives me feedback when I need it.
In order to ensure that we don’t get lost and can always find what we are looking for, it’s important for an interface to be labeled properly. Everyone understands what a “home” button should do in a nav bar, but not every menu label is always this obvious. For example, let’s say you have a multi-user game on your website that allows people to compete against each other, move up and down leaderboards, chat, form groups, etc. Do you put this game under the “Multimedia” or “Community” category in your nav if those are your only two options? This is when techniques like card sorting can help you figure out the best navigational structure.
A feedback mechanism is also crucial for effective interface design: the user needs to feel that their actions have meaning. We are all familiar with filling out and submitting an online form, for example, but have you ever clicked the submit button and just had the page refresh and be presented with the empty form again? Then you are forced to ask if your information went through, was there an error, should I fill out the form again to make sure? Don’t leave any doubt in your user’s mind — give them feedback for their actions. Thank you for your inquiry, someone will get back to you just as soon as we get back from our Starbucks run.
Principle #5: Be Problem Free
The quickest way to inhibit enjoyment is to create frustration over simple interface and navigation issues. If you’re like me, testing is never the most fun part of the process, but it is vitally important. It’s a competitive marketplace out there, and if your system’s interface has noticeable bugs you risk losing your users, perhaps forever, no matter how good your content is. Interface problems can be more than just software bugs, however, as a poorly designed interface is still a major issue. A good way to test your interface is by watching people use your system in a real-world scenario. Are they able to navigate around and achieve their objectives with relative easy? Is your interface intuitive to both experienced and less experienced computer users?
I will forgive a website for having small interface problems that may make me shake my head a little, but time is a limited resource, and if too many problems are interfering with the tasks I am trying to accomplish, sorry, but I’m moving on.
There are a number of ways to add breathing space to your type. White space or negative space helps to focus attention on the words, while line spacing and letter spacing can help to make your text more readable. Let’s take a look at each of these.
White space is the space between graphics, text elements and between columns on a page. It’s one of the most important principles in layout and design. It’s essential not to think of the space around your type (or graphics) as just blank space. The space is actually a design element all of its own and is used to create a classic or elegant appearance, and as I mentioned previously, this is a decision that you as a designer needs to make. Don’t just let your page fall together.
A web page with very little white space can appear too busy and may be difficult to read and focus on. However some simple ways to increase the amount of white space around your type, are to use
- bulleted items
- headlines and sub headlines
- padding around images
Line Spacing (Leading)
By changing the amount of space between lines, you increase the readability of a passage of text. If the line spacing is too tight, it becomes difficult to separate the words and is tiring on the eye. In the example below, you can see a paragraph of 12 pt text. As the line spacing in increased, the text becomes easier to read, and a nice airy effect is achieved.
As a rule of thumb, you may need to increase line spacing:
- If the typeface you choose has a large x-height, which many san-serif fonts do
- If you are reversing the type out, for example light blue font on a dark navy background.
You may need to decrease line spacing if your typeface has a very small x-height, as this will naturally create more space between the lines (the x-height is the distance between the baseline of a line of type and the tops of the main body of lower case letters).
- From the Wikimedia Commons
Letter Spacing (Tracking)
Some typefaces have connecting letters that are designed to sit very close together. You can set the space between letters (known traditionally as tracking) to make your text more readable. If you’re using the “web safe” fonts, Georgia, Verdana, Arial and so on, for your body text, you can usually leave the letter spacing as is. However you might like to change the spacing between letters for headings and sub-headings to achieve that airy feel and also stretch the length of your text without distortion.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to letter spacing. You really need to trust your eyes and own judgment. If the letters look too close together, they most likely are.
Kerning is sometimes confused with tracking. It refers to the adjustment of spacing of two particular characters to correct visually uneven spacing. This is used mainly in print design.
Let’s take a look at some examples of web sites which make good use of space to create clean, legible designs.
Matt Lawrence’s blog is mainly text based, yet still achieves a sense of airy-ness by using large heading and sub-headings and body text with large line spacing. The background image on the right hand side blends with the page and adds to the sense of spaciousness.
Simpleart leaves plenty of room around the main image on the page and separates three columns of text with gutters. A large margin underneath the three columns gives a nice impression (in this case) of floor space.
Daily Bath & Body is simple, clean and elegant. There’s lots of space around the logo in the header and between the main image and the headline “Indulge daily”. The headline itself uses wide tracking, while the body text is easy to read with good line spacing.
A simple measure is a slightly busier site than the others shown here, but it does a nice job putting a fair amount of information onto one page whilst keeping it legible and attractive. Each section of the page is allowed to breathe, either by using large margins or by using simple graphics such as the pencils in the navigation area.
Finally, just to show that white space does not have to be white, Nine Lioncombines a colourful graphic with large headline type. The small body text is cleanly separated from the graphic using a margin.
Jimmy Wales is most famous for being the founder (and omnipresent face) ofWikipedia but is also the co-founder of Wikia, a for-profit business that supports the creation of wikis communities on any topic.
What advice would you give to younger self?
Fail faster. Try more things, and don’t be too emotionally tied to any one idea. I wasted nearly two years in the start of Wikipedia with a previous site called Nupedia, a project which was plodding and slow and which I wish I had been faster to cut short.
What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Assuming that a small dream is easier to achieve than a big one. Particularly in the internet world, I see people doing really interesting work, but with a narrow scope, when everything online should be thought about from the beginning as potentially global and potentially universal.
Do you have any advice for dealing with investors?
Ha, I’m probably not a good person to ask about this. By the time I was raising money for Wikia.com, Wikipedia was already in the top 20 of all websites. So, I sometimes joke that to impress venture capitalists, first launch a charity on a shoestring budget that gets to be one of the most popular sites in the world, and then raising money is easy.
But more serious advice involves something that I did right with Wikia, and think is really important: find a venture capitalist with a long term view, a long term investing vision that matches what you are trying to do. Jeremy Levine atBessemer has been an incredible addition to our team, and in no small part because he understood that Wikia is a genuine community site and would take several years to mature, just as Wikipedia before it did. Today, according to Quantcast, Wikia.com is in the top 50 of all websites, we are also profitable, and doubling down on our growth strategy. Jeremy has always been there helping us take the long view.
What can you learn from the emerging talent?
One of the things I’ve learned repeatedly is that despite my good fortune in the world causing people to ask me all this sort of “deep guru of the internet” stuff, I’m as excited and astonished by new technologies and very simple but genius ideas that I did not see coming. I think we’re still in the early years of the internet and that emerging talent will do things with technology that, in retrospect, we’ll see was obvious — but we won’t see it coming. People always ask me: what’s the next big thing on the Internet. If I knew that, trust me, I’d build it.
What — in your career — have you been most proud of?
I think it is Wikipedia’s impact on the developing world of which I’m most proud, even though I think it many ways it is just beginning. During my travels, I often take detours to visit schools in poor areas, and sometimes I meet students whose lives have been transformed by the internet, and by Wikipedia. Access to knowledge is the first step to building a better society, the first step to healing in conflict zones, the first step to genuine progress.
What has been your worst business decision to date?
Andrew Mason of Groupon tells a story about how he contacted me before he set up Groupon, asking me about a precursor project to Groupon… a political site. I don’t remember it now, but he tells me that I wrote him a long email with lots of advice that he found valuable. Based on what I know about how I usually write those kinds of emails, I probably told him that I was too busy to do more than write a single email. I should have asked to be on his board and for some stock. Ha ha. Every journalist should bug him to dig through his email archives looking for that email. I haven’t been able to find it yet, but I’m really hoping to find out that I would have become accidentally wealthy in the Groupon IPO.
Which transformative technology or market force did you not predict?
I think the most important was Youtube. I remember hearing about Youtube, and watching their growth in the pre-Google days. I thought they were bonkers; I thought their investors were bonkers. I remember hearing at one point that they were burning through a million dollars a month in bandwidth bills, and I thought they were going to be yet another of the long history of disastrous video startups. Then, like 15 seconds later, Google bought them for billions and of course they’ve become a part of the overall infrastructure of our world.
What keeps you awake at night?
Let me be really simple about this: the baby! She’s nearly a year old now, and she went through this astounding lovely period of sleeping through the night but now she’s back to her old ways.
Which single device could you not live without?
My laptop. You could take away my phone, and I’d have trouble but I could make calls with Skype or in a fit of being old school, I could get a landline (haven’t had one for years). You could take away my television, and I’d hardly even notice. I love my iPad with a passion that almost frightens me, but honestly, I would survive in a damaged state without it.
Which startups are you most excited about?
I’m sure it’s dreadfully self-serving to say Wikia, but I’m going to do it anyway. For Wikia, it’s been hard breaking through to the mainstream press and getting the attention that it deserves. By the time Wikipedia was this size, I was getting global press coverage about it. The key is that the product is just really good and people really like using Wikia. I think it’s really exciting that a site most people haven’t heard of has grown from 25 million users a month to 60 million users a month in a little more than a year without the press particularly noticing.
Shifting out of self-serving mode, I’m really excited about Dropbox (it just works, and has a sensible business model), Pinterest (massive adoption by people who aren’t normally tech early adopters), and Badoo (fascinating game-like business model and astonishing growth).
Bugatti is set to unleash yet another speed machine and it could perhaps be the world’s fastest roadster
Resurrection? Not likely. Super-hero avatar overnight? Hell yeah! Not Spider-Man people, it’s the Veyron, and it’s back with the biggest bang yet called the EB Grand Sport Vitesse. To be revealed at the 82nd International Geneva Motor Show in March 2012, the new Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse will boast of performance figures such as 1,200PS of power from its W16 cylinder, 7,993cc engine.
Essentially an open-top super grand tourer, the Vitesse will be similar to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which holds the current world speed record of 431km/h. Like every Veyron, the Vitesse will boast of outstanding driving characteristics.
What Bugatti has done underneath the Veyron’s boot cannot be said accurately, but we do know that four enlarged intercooled turbochargers have been appointed to pack that extra power punch and the chassis has been reworked to support that extra 200PS of power. To give you a faint idea, the meatyChevrolet Cruze makes about 150PS of power. Expect extraordinary traits from the car such as interiors of the highest quality, drive dynamics perfect to the ‘t’ and neck-snap acceleration and braking.
“The rapid success of the Super Sport convinced us to increase the performance of the Bugatti roadster. Once again, our engineers worked hard to demonstrate that Bugatti is able to constantly redefine the boundaries of what is technically feasible,” reveals Bugatti President Wolfgang Dürheimer. “We gave our all to transfer the achievements of the Super Sport over to the Grand Sport, thereby turning open-top driving itself into an extraordinary experience at high speed.”
Cloud storage has been gaining wider acceptance as internet speeds have risen and costs have dropped. Googleseems to be getting ready to take advantage of this opportunity by endorsing GMail Drive in a new avatar now simply known as Drive. Interestingly, this new version will have Dropbox-like features.
GMail Drive is a free, third-party Windows Shell namespaceextension that has been in existence for over 7 years. It associates with a Google account and creates a virtual drive on the user’s PC using space in the account. This drive can be used just like a normal storage drive with nominal restrictions.
According to the report, it will be possible to store any type of data including photos, videos, and documents on the Drive through a web browser or a dedicated app. This can then be sent to and accessed from any internet-enabled device as a link, rather than a huge file, and users will be able to decide whether to download the file or not. With cloud-storage getting hotter, this new service might take off the way Google expects it to.
Soon after Valentine’s Day, one of the most famous couples in the tech industry, Sony and Ericsson have finally parted ways. The company will now be renamed to Sony Mobile Communications.
Sweden-based Ericsson had come together with the Japanese company Sony in 2001. The partnership went well until 2009, when the joint venture posted a yearly loss of over 800 million euros. After that, it was a bumpy ride for the company. In October 2011, Sony had announced that it will buy out Ericsson’s stake. Reportedly, Sony paid around EUR 1.05 billion for complete ownership of the mobile business.
With the new name and some promising dual-core Android devices just around the corner, let’s hope that Sony Mobile Communications will make a strong comeback.
Samsung seems to be on a roll with several products beinglaunched in India of late. Now it seems that they have a big heart too. In a press release, the brand has announced a new HOPE Project to provide better quality education to underprivileged children in certain regions of the country. It aims to spread the initiative across 100 villages in Tamil Nadu with the help of Aid India, and in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh through SMILE Foundation. For funding this initiative, the company will contribute Rs 100 for everyGALAXY Note sold between February and June 2012.
Ranjit Yadav, Country Head-Mobile & IT said, “Our objective is to promote the cause of education for children as widely as possible and encourage more people to join this movement. So while Samsung India will support the Project through the sales of its flagship Galaxy Note, consumers can even support our partners directly and make the Program stronger”.
Looks like the Note, which is a notch higher in its specs as compared to its GALAXY S II, isn’t doing as well as the brand had initially anticipated. Moreover, considering that it’s priced in excess of 30K, the amount does seem paltry for a good cause. However, for once, inflated shipping and sales figures will help benefit a noble cause.