Top Expert Judge Brian Massey Shares Insights on Landing Pages Designed to ConvertBy Elisa Silverman on December 30, 2014
Reading Time: 6 minutes
With his more than 15 years of online marketing experience and focus on achieving measurable bottom line results, Brian Massey brings a keen eye as one of the judges in ThemeForest’s Pagewiz Landing Page Design contest. He’s also the sole judge for one of the contest’s four Top Expert Prizes, $1000 for “The Best Conversion Centered Landing Page Template Design.”
Because a landing page has only one purpose – to convert. That is, to get the visitor to take the one action the landing page wants them to take.
According to Brian, who is also known as the Conversion Scientist, there is a science to improving landing page conversion rates. While copywriting and design are creative endeavors, Brian reminds that both have to be tested, measured, and revised
in order to increase conversions (and with them, revenue). The answers aren’t the same for every landing page, but Brian has discovered clear formulas that help businesses find those answers. He writes about them in his book Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.
I had a chance to speak with Brian recently and get his thoughts on how landing page design effects conversions and some insight as to what he’ll be looking for in the contest’s entries.
Designing from a “Conversion-Centered Approach”
Elisa: Where does design fit into the conversion equation?
Brian: Design has a very specific role. When you design with a more conversion-centered approach, you start off with the components of the page that your visitors are expecting. They’re expecting to see a good treatment of your value proposition. When they come, they want to see in text and in pictures what you’re about, and sometimes what makes you unique, but most importantly, why they should stick around and continue to explore the messages you have on your website.
Elisa: So how does design work on a landing page to deliver the value proposition?
Brian: The designer’s job is to use their knowledge of font, color, size, shape, white space, negative space, layout, defining borders, to get the visitors’ eyes to the parts of the page that fulfill the needs of the landing page; that is sharing the value proposition and encouraging action.
Elisa: Alright, so that seems to be the second part of the equation – using design to encourage action.
Brian: There are elements that need to be at the top of the visual hierarchy so that no visitor comes to the page without realizing they’re being asked to do something.
Great design is going to start off in making the primary headline, which starts off the value proposition, evident. If there’s a call to action on the page, then the designer’s job is to make sure that the call-to-action button and form pop off the page.
Ugly Can Be Beautiful… to Your Conversion Rate
As the conversion scientist, Brian has an ethos of testing, testing, and more testing to determine what’s actually working on a page. So I had to ask…
Elisa: In your experience of what’s actually converting, have you found certain specifics of design that are more likely to motivate or discourage action?
Brian: The specifics of design change from audience to audience. Probably the only general rule, and it’s a bit of a heartbreaker, is that too often we find ugly wins when we do our split tests.
Elisa: Ouch. What constitutes “ugly”?
Brian: Plain and simple often constitute ugly. Some of the things that we normally would think make a page hard to parse, like sometimes we’ve put too many fonts on a page. The uglier we make it, the harder to read we make it, the more the call to action seems to pop and people tend to take action.
Elisa: Relegating design to the service of conversion must be distressful to a designer who prefers to create a lovely, sleek template.
Brian: Never rule out ugly if you’re a designer and you’re designing for conversion. If you’re designing for your own creativity or you’re designing for brand, then you can have fun.
Elisa: So does the landing page design really matter?
Brian: We see the designer really as more of a draftsman. Laying the pipes and the electrical lines that help the visitor understand and digest these really important pieces of information that makes them feel comfortable and confident in taking action.
Some Tips for Your Contest Entries
I also asked Brian to share some specifics that he’ll be looking for as he judges the landing page template designs people submit.
Here’s what Brian offered, in his own words (although I provided the emphasis):
- Design the images and the copy so that they can be scanned easily. When a page gets scanned, the visitor gets an idea of what’s in the value proposition without necessarily reading it all.
- In every value proposition, there are some things that need to be said above the fold, for the quick decision makers. I’m going to be looking for templates that honor that. That provide space and services above the fold.
- I believe in images as part of copy as opposed to static places for images. It’s a mistake that many designers make. Images should be used throughout the copy to really support its message.
- I’m going to take points off for
distractions, anything that distracts the user from taking the one action the landing page really wants.
Distractions can include navigation bars, sidebar ads, social media icons or links to other pages, like a blog.
As the purpose of every landing page is to get a conversion, Brian’s thoughts are valuable for any template design category you enter.
I’ll be sharing more thoughts from some of the other contest judges in future posts, so visit the Pagewiz blog again over this next month to hear their thoughts on what makes a winning landing page template design.
Are you in need of converting landing page templates?
Check out the Pagewiz marketing category at ThemeForest and find heaps of unconventional landing page templates that still provide a user experience that leads to conversions.
Elisa Silverman is a B2B content writer with a background in law and technology, who’s spent a career helping diverse groups of people communicate well with each other.