Tom Starley Consultancy

Design for the right people.

I’ve been thinking about creating a post covering the secrets behind the best converting landing pages and how to remedy the most common landing page faux pas that I see day in, day out for quite some time now. I begun to list them out and well, I could have gone on and on, but I stopped at what I see as the top 20 do’s and don’ts to ensure your landing page is the best it can be. Rather than rattle off a list of tips and tricks, I wanted to flesh each point out a little so, read on if you want to uncover and solve the biggest issues standing in the way of prospective users converting on your sales or landing pages. By following these pointers and eradicating these issues you will save yourself weeks, if not months of time locking down users and be well on the way to inducting a design thinking mindset into your business. Happy times!

I have created and optimised a lot of landing and sales pages over the years (and I mean a lot.) Ever heard of the 5 second rule? (No, I don’t mean the pick up it and eat it if it’s been on the floor less than 5 seconds rule!) I mean the rule that states if a user doesn’t know who you are and why that can help them within 5 seconds of landing on your site, your stuffed. Here’s a 5 second test on a site I picked at random.

See what I mean? The five second test is hugely important to your business as it’s the same subconscious mindset your prospect will go through when judging your offering.

I see the same user experience problems cropping up all the time and although they span across multiple disciplines, development, design, content, strategy etc they are all rooted in a lack of understanding and appreciation of good UX.

But anyway let’s get to it, sit back, relax, shake out those shoulders (can you shake shoulders?) and let’s start improving your conversion rates – woohoo!

1. Really know your audience.

How can you create a great landing page if you, the man or women in the boss’ seat are unsure of your target audience? It sounds obvious, but the problem is soooo common and blights a vast proportion of landing pages. I find businesses whose websites or apps aren’t highly targeted usually fall into the approach below:

“I know my audience, my app caters to many people across many sectors, in fact anyone can use our product and that’s great – I’m covering all bases!”

But let’s stop and take a closer look at that. It most likely isn’t great and I doubt that the messaging is working too well? Take Facebook, they started with a highly targeted, niche audience of uni students – which was a huge advantage as they knew exactly who to target EVERYTHING at before going on to scale out to the world. Chances are though, your product is not the next facebook type solution that has the capacity to cater to all, so don’t try to be everything to all people, your message will be diluted and won’t convert well, your marketing will be weak yet expensive and your focus will be vague. Ask what is the smallest group of people I can make a real difference to, then connect with and concentrate on that niche.

I often see that when the above cast the net wide style thinking is in play within a business, the audience becomes so lost and the message becomes so weak, that the copy just ends up being written for an audience of 1, the person in charge.

“Ask what is the smallest group of people I can make a real difference to, then connect with and concentrate on that niche.”

Click here to check out my post about how you can’t create great experiences without first knowing your users.

2. Validate your niche.

So your messaging is somewhat vague and you want to narrow in on a niche but you’re unsure how. Well my friends it’s time to get up off your cheeks, step away from Google Analytics and get talking with your users. You need to validate why your users use your product, you need to find out who they are, what their jobs are, where they hang out, what their interests are etc. Remove the user label, think of them as the living breathing people they are. Armed with this info, you can make an informed decision as to which niche might be best not only for your messaging but for your users and strategically for your business.

This does not need to be complex, I advise using This enables you to brainstorm different niches quickly. You should find 1 or 2 stick out pretty fast especially now you’re out of the “I must be everything to all people” mindset. However that is not enough! You must take these ideas to customers and validate your thinking. It’s not a speedy process but you will learn a lot and gain a lot of confidence and focus. I urge you to read this great book to learn more about user validation.

3. But hang on, wasn’t this supposed to be about landing and sales pages?

Yes, yes it is! And with the above explained we can get stuck in. Validating your target audience is so important. It is the foundation needed to successfully optimise not only your sales pages but also your entire business. There’s little point going too much further until you have this nailed, as you’ll most likely just waste time, money and effort for little reward.

4. Never underestimate how long it takes to create great content.

Now you have validated your target audience, you can accurately build out your content around your niche. Creating great copy is an art and always takes a lot, lot, lot more time than you anticipate. Honestly, set aside twice to three times as much time as you think you need and you might be getting close. Put it this way, content should easily take up as much time as the development of the site. Never underestimate the value in or time needed to generate great content. Great content is so much a part of the whole user experience that it can make or break your site, I’ll say it again, ensure you spend time lovingly crafting your content for the best user experience.

5. Keep your sentence/text length short and sweet.

Otherwise people just won’t read it!… This is especially the case towards the top of the page when the prospect is less invested in your product. Draw them in with more expansive content as you go, if you need to. Titles should be short, any benefits should be clear, concise and relevant to your niche. Creating short, well written sentences that resonate and that still fit into a beautiful intuitive design is a never ending challenge. Again, don’t be everything to all people. It’s better to have short memorable, benefit based text than reels and reels of copy. Remember that 5 second rule too, you must grab your user within 5 seconds of them landing on your page and you can’t do that with long sentences.

So, we’ve come to the end of the first instalment of my mini-series uncovering the secrets behind the best converting landing pages, hope that you’ve enjoyed it! I’ll be publishing the following episodes over the next few days so make sure you subscribe and check back in! I’ll be covering landing page structure, taglines, CTA’s and plenty more…

Until next time!

Hi, I'm Tom! A UX/UI specialist and founder. I'm passionate about increasing conversion and revenue for growing online companies through expert UX/UI design and consultancy.

Next Post