Ask any Web designer about the most important aspects of Web page design. You're likely to hear the same three things over and over: usability, intuitiveness, and color. All are critical.
But when designing landing pages or buying/shopping process pages, these elements alone just aren't enough.
Designers are also likely to talk about how a site or design "feels." Often, a site can feel right, but perform badly. Designers are right; a site should feel right. But it should also convert.
How do you accomplish both? What does "feel right" mean in the real world? Is design totally subjective?
Following are some practical and commonly overlooked elements of landing- and buying-page design to help answer some the above questions and help you think about design elements more objectively.
Determine the relative importance of all elements that will comprise a Web page. Not all elements are of equal importance. To be most effective, the layout must take this into account. Important elements may require specific placement on a page so that they may be more visually available to visitors.
Visit Buy.com and place any item in your cart. What action do you think Buy.com would rather you take? "Update Quantities" or "Checkout"? The design of this page shifts perceived priority to "Update Quantities" over "Checkout."
Position refers to the relational properties of elements on Web page. No element exists in isolation; all are affected by the surrounding elements. A large, dark element, for example, may functionally obscure the presence of an adjacent small, light element.
Evaluate the positional relationships including size, shape, color and proximity of all the elements. Ensure each is visually "available" to the visitor.
Now, go back to the Buy.com checkout page. Observe how the position of "Update Quantities" in the center of the page obscures the checkout button
Contrast is the difference between the light and dark areas of the page design, the juxtaposition of black and white representing the strongest contrast. Contrast dramatically affects readability and a visitor's ability to spot elements critical to the persuasive process. Contrast is an important design consideration when people with impaired vision require assistive technologies to render Web pages readable.
When considering design contrast:
This is the design's ability to employ basic conventions online users have come to associate with e-business. Sure, conventions can seem limiting and uncreative. But an online business must provide both a design and a layout that helps the visitor accomplish her task efficiently and without frustration.
Striking A Balance
Designing landing pages and other buying process pages is a more objective process than many people think. It's not about the prettiest design, or the one that "feels right." Design is a tool that helps the visitor achieve their goals, and you achieve yours.
Most discussions about design are subjective (I don't like that color; that shape; that picture here, etc.). Many such discussions can be avoided by first by prioritizing, or assigning a value, to the actions you want the visitor to take on a page-by-page basis.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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