If you’re shopping options for designing a website, you may have seen Landing Page design offered at a cheaper price point than full sites. Landing pages and homepages share a lot of similarities. They both serve as an entry point to your website for new users. They should both make the best impression possible and convince users to stay on your site. And they both work to guide users to taking actions on your site that will hopefully lead to a sale. But ultimately the difference between a landing page and a homepage comes down to what you want a user to do.
The purpose of the page is key. Read on to find out how a landing page can help make sales in the short term, but it may be too limited to support your entire business.
Ultimately the difference between a landing page and a homepage comes down to what you want a user to do.
1 | Both page types are designed for different target audiences.
The first thing to consider when building either a landing page or a homepage is who will use it most.
Your homepage will capture more diverse traffic as it is likely to be the first page to rank in Google searches. Homepages should reflect the attitude of your brand and what you offer as a business, but they have to have a broad stylistic appeal so you don’t lose customers at the door.
In contrast, a landing page is typically designed to support online ads with a very narrow audience. These are most effective when tailored to specific niches. Say your business is promoting a team-organizing software like Slack: you can have one landing page that looks sleek and sophisticated targeted to board members, and another that is more colorful and dynamic targeted to student groups. You can run online ads that only show to certain age groups and education levels, each linking to the appropriate landing page. This can help convince each group to use your service more quickly, but you can see how a single landing page isn’t enough to promote your content without alienating one group or another.
2 | The intent of a landing page is different from a homepage.
The biggest difference between a landing page and a homepage is their intent.
In simple terms, a homepage provides information and a roadmap to wherever the user wants to go, while a landing page follows rails straight to making a sale. While making sales might sound like the route you want to go every time, both serve an important purpose and should be designed with that in mind.
Both landing pages and homepages have to serve two main functions right out of the gate: 1) Get the user’s attention 2) Explain who you are and why they need you. After those stages are fulfilled, they diverge into two very different paths. Homepage: Broad, informational, guiding. Landing Page: Targeted, action-oriented, selling.
Homepages guide and inform.
A homepage’s ultimate goal is to direct the user to another part of your site that fulfills a need for them. Some people will come to you for information, others for specific services, others for resources and tools, and so on. Once you have a user’s attention and they’re convinced you have something to offer, a homepage should make it as easy as possible to find the next step.
Landing pages convert.
A landing page’s main purpose is to get the user to do one specific thing. What that thing is depends on the type of landing page you build and what your goal is. Common goals are often lead-generating actions like signing up for a newsletter, starting a free trial, downloading a free resource, etc—something that provides a benefit to the user in exchange for a foot in the door to sell to them in the future. Other goals may be more sales-oriented like placing an order, taking advantage of a limited time discount, or downloading your software.
3 | Homepages require a different content structure than landing pages.
Homepages are a roadmap that unfolds several times over.
Because homepages need to account for a variety of user needs, they typically start broad and narrow down. The formula for an effective homepage includes leading with a high quality full-width image that is relative to your business and service. Tell the user immediately who you are and what you can offer them. Highlight your biggest selling points and offerings next with clear buttons to take them there. Continue to narrow down into more detailed information and site links. This top-down approach helps funnel users into finer and finer areas of your site so you’re less likely to lose them along the way. It also helps keep Bounce Rate down and will contribute to your site’s overall SEO through the use of concise keywords and internal links.
Landing pages are a one-way ticket.
Landing pages are different. They should support your intended goal from start to finish, with no opportunities for your user to slip away or get sidetracked. That’s why a landing page will typically not include links to any other part of your site, leaving the user with only two options: take the action you’re asking them to take, or leave the page. This can sound off-putting, but a well-written landing page should feel less like a mousetrap and more like an insider opportunity. Writing good copy is key on landing pages because you have to be convincing without sounding like a salesman.
Let’s compare page layouts!
This is Slack’s Homepage.
It starts by grabbing attention with an animated background. The bold headline concisely states what this service is and how it benefits the user. Note that the wording of “your company” can apply to CEOs just as much as weary receptionists looking for a more organized company inbox.
High contrast buttons below offer an option to try it now or learn a little more with a demo. Menu links at the top offer options for people seeking other information, as well as a login for current users just wanting to access workspaces. Bottom line: it starts with a bang, and then begins laying out options for everything a user may want to know.
And this is one of Slack’s landing pages.
It still clearly fits their branding and follows a similar layout, but notice this page is cleaner. No looping animation, and more whitespace allows the headline to really pop forward. This landing page was attached to a Google Ad appearing in searches for “Online collaboration tools.” People searching for collaboration tools are more likely to be team leads and team members, with goal-oriented needs. So note this headline is focused a little more on getting things done.
The option here is not to “try” but to “get started,” and it jumps straight to the point of starting the signup process. There are no menu links to other parts of the website beyond the small “sign in” option up top. Another “get started” button is also planted there so it stays visible if you scroll further down the page. Any additional info is based around building credibility (the affiliated logos at the bottom) so users can feel secure in giving it a shot.
So now you know!
A landing page is a selling tool that allows you to target subsections of your audience and funnel them into leads and conversions. A homepage is your catch-all greeting page for traffic to your site, so it needs to communicate to a diverse audience and help guide them to relevant information.
When web design companies offer landing page sites, it typically means you’re paying for a single page site with as much of your business content on it as possible. This effectively turns it into a homepage…but worse. It follows the top-down approach to content, and has to appeal to all your traffic. But it lacks the guiding power of a homepage because it can’t link users into subsections of your site.
At the same time, it strips away the targeted selling power of a true landing page. It waters down the copy and style, and encourages too many actions to be effective (get directions, call you, send a message, visit your social media, download a file, etc).
So if you’re considering a landing page site for your business, determine if that is really the best fit. We’ve made landing page sites work before, like in the case of local baker Hannah West. But for most businesses, there are many more reasons to choose a multi-page site over a landing page, including how it affects your ability to rank higher on Google. If you can afford the extra jump, a multi-page site is always worth it. We can field any questions you may have and even help you get started, so give us a call anytime! 682-719-0085
That’s it for this week’s Red Arrow Blog. If you found these resources useful, let us know below! And be sure to follow our social media for weekly articles to help you make the most of your business.