Web Design: Smooth Landings
Everyone wants to find the silver bullet.
I am often asked what should be on the perfect registration or sign-up landing page. Of course, the answer is always the same: "It depends." So you should test different approaches on your specific audience. No single prescription will fit all circumstances.
However, there are a number of best practices that apply to sign-up pages:
• Clear page headline—Each page on a Web site (and each stand-alone landing page) must be about something. It must have a clear purpose, and the purpose must be spelled out in a headline that spans the top of the page.
• Well-defined "action block"—There should be a single place for the visitor to interact with your page, and that place should be visually called out with a subtle background color. This action block should draw the eye toward the desired activity on the page. The rest of the page should be plain and visually restrained.
• Subheadline in your action block—The purpose of the action block must be clearly stated. What are you asking the visitor to do in the action block? What specifically is going to happen within it?
• Clear call to action—Within your action block, you must have a single, clear call to action. The call to action must describe what happens next and what the visitor can expect when he is done interacting with the action block. It should not be general or generic like the "Continue" or "Submit" text that is commonly used on Web sites. The wording of the call to action must be from the visitor's viewpoint, not your company's. To put yourself in the visitor's shoes, try using button text that completes the following sentence: "I want to …"
• Well-designed forms—For most companies, very little thought is given to the details of the sign-up form. In fact, designing effective forms is a very subtle art and can have a dramatic effect on conversions. The form information should be grouped into clear, high-level sections to help the visitor understand her purpose and information flow.
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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