Great design is the difference between landing pages that draw visitors in, build your list and create more customers and pages that visitors simply get confused or annoyed by and close. The goal of creating brilliant marketing campaigns is to increase clicks and conversions and, ultimately, create long-term brand loyalists. Landing pages are a critical part of that process, so how do you make them stand out amidst the noise?

The good news is, you don’t have to be a seasoned designer to create visually compelling and effective landing pages.

Before Laura Casanova, Ontraport’s VP of Creative, joined our team, she served as Creative Director at Shopkeep and holds degrees in art history and graphic design. We asked her for best practices in landing page design. Over the years, Casanova and our marketing team have run countless campaigns using Ontraport Pages and have gained a lot of insight about which design practices withstand the test of time. Whether your landing pages need some polish so they’ll convert better or you’re just started out with landing pages, these tips will set you on the right path.

Clean Above-the-Fold Design

When people talk about “above the fold,” they are referring to anything you see on a webpage at first glance, without scrolling downward. The imagery and text that is visible above the fold should be a complete, well-designed concept. This means that you don’t want to have an image or headline cut off so that the viewer must scroll down to get the full picture.  

Remember that most people who land on a page don’t even go below the fold, so what you put above the fold really does matter. People will only scroll down if they are engaged by what they see right off the bat.

It’s important that your branding is represented consistently with your other marketing assets, and you include captivating imagery and your CTA (a form or link/button taking them to another page) above the fold.

When we talk about “clean” design, we are really just talking about making it easy and pleasurable for the eye to navigate. The questions you want to ask yourself are: What is the viewer going to take away from this landing page in five seconds? Is she going to read the headline and know what I am talking about, or will she be confused?

Remember that the eye reads left to right. As Casanova explains, “It’s like a painting; your eyes have to have an entrance point and an exit point. If you look at a painting and it doesn’t make sense to you visually, you aren’t going to like that painting. You have to curate the experience.” On a landing page, if the eye doesn’t know what to look at, the viewer will want to leave the page.

Strategic Use of Color

Many people will tell you to use colors on your landing pages that relate to specific emotions or personalities and to use contrasting colors for emphasis. While there is certainly validity to these guidelines, Casanova notes that the more important discussion is around use of color as it has to do with the hierarchy of information on your page. That is, color should support the flow of what the eye is drawn to first, second, third, etc., and what it deems most important.

For example, one of the golden rules that Casanova emphasizes is to avoid making your CTA and logo the same color. You want your logo to be iconic and totally stand out. If you use similar colors/fonts in your CTA as you used in your logo, the two will compete and your logo will also be less memorable.

Headlines: Hierarchy Matters Most

As with color, the size of the copy on your page should follow a hierarchy so that the reader understands what is most important. Use attractive and balanced type and, in general, big and bold is best, but make sure that you stick to your style and branding. Always be authentic to your brand in every element of your design.

Again, the most important rule for effective headline design is to ensure that the hierarchy of your copy is obvious. This means, the headline is the biggest, most obvious text on the page. It’s what you want your reader to see first. The subheading comes next in the hierarchy, and your body copy is third in line in terms of priority to the reader.  

Hierarchy is more important than which font color or size and type you use. When it comes to landing page headlines, hierarchy is king (how’s that for a mnemonic device?)

Imagery and Illustrations

You want your landing page images to be beautiful and eye-catching as well as original.

One trend we’ve seen gaining traction is the use of illustrations in place of original photography for website imagery. Since it is less expensive and faster than good photography, illustrations can easily become a default. Ontraport uses original illustrations created by graphic artists in our branding to mix it up, but we also have a staff photographer who curates our photography, ensuring that our collateral is always original and aligned with our branding.

If you want to use photography and don’t have a photographer in-house, there are freelancers and agencies you can hire to get your photos done right. If you don’t have the funds for that, then you can take photos yourself, but make sure they’re authentic to your brand.

Whether you’re using photos or illustrations, it’s important to keep them consistent with your brand’s visual tone and appearance. As Casanova puts it, “Your authenticity declines the more you use stock photos or stock illustrations.”

Authenticity Wins in the Long Run

Your branding is your identity as a business, and people are much more likely to follow you if they feel positive about your brand.

“Just be authentic — at the end of the day, that’s how you break through the noise. I think people often forget about that,” said Casanova.

There’s no need to subscribe to a formula when it comes to your branding or to do things because someone else says you should or that it converts well. What converts well for you is going to be what is true and authentic for you as a company, as a brand.

“You want to convert customers because they are sold on your brand, not just sold on the landing page they’re on,” Casanova says.

About Chantal Peterson

Chantal is a content marketing specialist and journalist with over a decade of experience working with clients in a wide diversity of industries. As a long time solopreneur, she has grown a skill set that makes her particularly adaptable to client needs and agile when adopting a new brand voice.

She has helped many teams grow their businesses through strategic content marketing and social media campaigns, targeted web, blog and email copy and curated content experiences. A travel enthusiast with wanderlust running through her blood, she’s always anticipating the next adventure.