Simply put - simple is better when it comes to landing pages


"Simple converts", or in laymen's terms, "Simple is better". Like many SEO/PPC people, sometimes we find ourselves struggling to explain the logic behind uncomfortably simple landing pages to clients. We get why it's confusing, after all, you're paying us to design a great landing page, and naturally, you're expecting a great landing page to look really, really great, like your website or some other piece of beautiful collateral.

But we see it a little differently.

A great landing page to us is an effective landing page. And an effective landing page converts users! And research is showing that the most effective landing pages tend to be the simplest. They aren’t cluttered with complex, beautiful design or distracting elements like fluffy copy, meaninglessly beautiful pictures or links or things that move.

Effective landing pages are simple.

And we get why it can be hard to get that. We came across ClickZ's article, "The Backward Landing Page" by Brian Massey, and thought it might be fun and useful to try building a backwards landing page for Carbon8 using Massey's careful direction. Building a landing page backwards consists of starting with the most important information first to avoid cluttering it up with the least important.

Here goes (with excerpts from Massey’s article italicized)...


This landing page is the perfect landing page; simple, clear, no confusion.


Unfortunately, this page will only be effective if you're selling to a very curious crowd or are selling dominatrix services, where to "Submit" makes sense. For other markets, we'll have to make the call to action more relevant.


Relevance has a very different meaning for a landing page. While you may think that information about your company and products is relevant for your website, it is the source of the visitors that defines relevance for a landing page. Your company is just an actor on the landing page's stage.

Landing pages, like ads, start with a great offer. If our traffic is coming from a search ad, for example, our call to action must match the promise in the ad. Below is an example of a landing page and two ads that may drive traffic to it. Can you see how the offer on the landing page is a let-down for a visitor coming from ad B?


These visitors expect to see "Free breakfast." The landing page offer is too general for ad B, but may work well for ad A.

We can further improve this by telling the visitor exactly what they should do. "Click here" is all they can do right now.



Our button is getting a little unwieldy. Now is a good time to ask a designer to help us out. Don't ask them to design your page, though. Remember, this is a backwards landing page. A designer might offer the layout below to solve our button problem.


This is an improvement, but we aren’t going to convince many people to sign up with this landing page, because we won’t know how to contact them to tell them when and where to meet us. We need a way to get their contact information.


We can expand our page to let users enter their contact information. This makes our landing page eminently more helpful. However, each field we add is likely to reduce our conversion rate. We should only add those that we absolutely need.


Now that we've added several fields to the page, our conversion rates are going to drop, especially since we're asking for personal information. To counter this, we need to give the visitor more reasons to complete the form.


Don't write your own copy. Copywriters are good at using words to persuade visitors to take action.

In this case, I'm writing the copy as an example, and I deem a few bullets to be sufficient, since this is such an awesome offer.


In this case, I'm writing the copy as an example, and I deem a few bullets to be sufficient, since this is such an awesome offer.


Our copy can talk about how trustworthy we are, but we need some symbols of our trustworthiness. Good examples of trust symbols include:

  • Your company logo, if it is recognizable by visitors.
  • Trust symbols from third-party auditors like the Better Business Bureau, eTrust, VeriSign, Hacker Safe, and others.
  • Your customers' logos.
  • Images that indicate encryption, typically a lock icon.
  • Credit card logos.



An image on the page helps anchor the eye. However, the image must be relevant. Always show the product. Even if your landing page is offering a service, find a way to show off the service as a product.

The higher the quality of the image, the better it will perform. Don't skimp on photography, as I do.



The problem with all of these trust symbols and pictures is that they compete with our call to action. Our little gray "Click Here" button isn't making it clear to the visitor what they are expected to do.

We'll consult our designer again. The designer should recommend screening back some of the high-contrast logos and making the call-to-action button draw the eye.


Since the button is now very prominent, we asked our copywriter to make it more specific and enticing.

At this point, we have all the elements of a high-converting landing page.

And we did it backwards

At this point, it's important to guard against "forward" thinking as we ask our designer to make the page easier to scan and read.


Ideally, we would launch this page and get our baseline conversion rate. Then, we can begin split testing to make it more and more effective.

However, a competent designer can make this page easier to read with some color and white space. The designer can position things on the page to induce scrolling. They can format the page to fit the common screen sizes.

If your designer starts talking about adding headers, icons, columns, progressive forms, or anything else that doesn't solve a problem related to conversion rates, tell them "We'll add that idea to our test schedule."

Now launch the landing page and watch the analytics. You did add analytics, didn't you?

Instead of starting with a template, start your landing page from the call to action and build it backwards. This will avoid the introduction of elements that reduce your conversion rates unnecessarily.

Thanks CLickZ and Brian Massey for this fun exercise in simplicity! We appreciate you saying it best. Now, breakfast anyone?


Kristi Petrie
written by KRISTI PETRIE
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