I like to talk about how to build landing pages that are optimized for scanners. No, not the ones in the movie but for the people who look at web pages by scanning them to get the idea of what the page is about. Most SEO experts will tell you “content is king” or “write for the visitor not the engines’ and I agree with those comments but when it comes to building landing pages and optimization I think you need to look at it a little differently. Jacob Nielson (www.useit.com) says that one of the major facts about web use is that people tend to scan or skim pages looking for words or phrases that catch their eyes. If a landing page has more then a few paragraphs they are also likely to print it out than read on a screen. Not good for your conversion rates if you ask me. So why do we scan? We scan to save time. Why read every word when we can get the overall idea from images, callouts, buttons, bullet points, and highlighted words. We also look for things that grab our attention and for the bits and pieces that match our interests or the task, product, or service we need. To be honest, we are damn good at it too. Let me show you a landing page example that shows how the scanner scans a page:
The heat tracking map was from a study done at SEOMOZ.org and as you can see the red areas are where web visitors spent the most of their time looking. Actually, this pattern of eye tracking is a very common pattern with most web consumers as the top right is the favorate place for most people to spend their time as you can see from the image below:
Also note how the red spots on the image to the right are split up some and the big sale banner did not get any long views. This is due to the fact that the banner stands out and can be seen quickly and the message is read instantly. This is not a bad thing as this landing page example gives back valuable time to the web visitor to look at other parts of the page that need more time for them to figure out like navigation, smaller images, and search boxes.
So how can you create a landing page design that is optimized for scanners? Well for starters, design your landing page around the information we talked about. I am a big fan of keeping landing pages short and sweet. Use headlines, bullet points, limited copy, different font colors, font sizes, and font treatments such as bold and italicized. When you are all done get ready to start performing landing page optimization to maximize conversions.
Great Tools For Landing Page Optimization
Here is a nice list of must have tools to use to help optimize your landing page designs and templates:
- Click Tale – ClickTale is the industry leader in Customer Experience Analytics (CEA), providing businesses with revolutionary insights into their customers’ online behavior. Over 50,000 businesses rely on ClickTale to optimize website performance, improve usability and dramatically increase conversion rates. ClickTale tracks every mouse move, click and scroll, creating playable videos of customers’ entire browsing sessions as well as powerful visual heatmaps and behavioral reports that perfectly complement traditional web analytics. As a fully hosted subscription service, ClickTale is cost-effective and quick to set up.
- Attention Wizard – AttentionWizard uses advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to simulate human visual processing and attention. Our software instantly creates an “attention heatmap” of your Web page that predicts where someone would look during the first few seconds of their visit.
- User Testing - Provides the fastest and cheapest usability testing on the market. This service gives website owners access to a network of pre-screened users who are articulate and observant and who meet specified demographics. With UserTesting.com, website owners can request that one or more users attempt to complete a task on their website.