Design landing pages to focus attention

Posted on May 9, 2009 by admin

Who and what are your landing pages designed for? Knowing the answer to this question is critical to website success.

What is a landing page? Your Home page is a landing page. Any page arrived at via your main navigation. Any page arrived at via search. They are all landing pages.

Your landing pages should have a strong focus on supporting the top tasks of your mission critical visitors. Unfortunately, we often see a more democratic approach taken –giving everyone an equal amount of real estate.

Everyone may want their share of the landing page real estate, especially on the Home page, but giving in to this temptation constitutes website suicide. You create a dense jungle of unrelated content all screaming for your visitors’ limited attention. People either have to hack their way through the jungle or find another website that offers a clearer path. What would you do?

Time is the currency on the web. People spend their valuable, and finite, time to engage with your website. If you waste their time, they will have a negative experience and will leave. They will not convert. They will not click through to achieve their task. They will not fill out forms. They will not download reports or software. They will not buy something.

Awareness is the first step in any learning, transactional or decision making process. When people come to a web page to achieve some task, they must first be aware that the page supports their task.

Do I see what I want? How long is it going to take me to get it?


Make top tasks stand out – Do not have multiple links and content each screaming for attention. Top task links and content should be assigned proportionately more screen real estate and made more prominent.

Make things quick to do – Get people started on their top task or on the path to their task as quickly as possible. Provide a clear, uninterrupted path to their task and support progress toward their goal every step of the way.

Eliminate clutter – Once you clearly understand your critical visitors’ top tasks, eliminate or downplay anything that does not directly support those tasks.

Refine remaining content – Ruthlessly edit any remaining content. Use concise bullets instead of paragraphs. Align links so they are easy to scan. Organize content with concise headings so people can jump immediately to the content of interest. Move critical words to the beginning of bullets or titles.

See Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, April 27, 2009 [1] for a good summary of writing web headlines. Another good resource is Caroline Jarrett’s Principles of Editing that Works [2].

You may feel that each item on your landing pages is useful to someone. However, the cumulative effect of trying to accommodate everyone’s needs is that no one is well served.

Tim Ash nicely summarizes some Rules of Web Awareness in his book Landing Page Optimization:


  • If the visitor can’t find something easily, it does not exist
  • If you emphasize too many items, all of them lose importance
  • Any delay increases frustration


Begin with the desired experience (outcome and impact) in mind and work backward to remove anything that distracts or detracts from that experience.

Give us a call at 613 271-3001 or 866-232-8522 if you need help identifying your top tasks or designing your landing pages.

Related links:



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Quote of the month

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”

Herbert A. Simon – Computer and Social Scientist


URLs in this post:

[1] Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, April 27, 2009:

[2] Caroline Jarrett’s Principles of Editing that Works:

[3] Options for landing page design – November Insighter 2008:

[4] Web content is where the action is – April Insighter 2007:

[5] Back to Top: #top

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