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      How to Design an LGBTQ-Inclusive Website


      At DreamHost, we care a lot about accessibility and inclusive web design. The idea is simple: make your website as easy to use (and as welcoming as possible) for each and every visitor.

      Of course, you’re going to think about the abilities of your users and the demographics of your target market. But there is a huge population that many small business owners forget to consider when designing a website: individuals who identify as LGBTQ (an initialism for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning).

      “Wait,” you say. “People are people, and love is love.” And you’re not wrong!

      However, there are so many things you can do to make a website that is more inclusive and welcoming for all your visitors, regardless of orientation or identity. We’ll walk you through some of the key reasons you should consider the needs of your LGBTQ customers when designing a website (spoiler: it’s good for business) and then we’ll give you 12 key pointers to get started.

      Why Having an LGBTQ-Inclusive Website Matters

      “Making your site more inclusive for LGBTQ people can improve the user experience for everyone,” explains Jaymie Strecker, a non-binary Drupal developer at Kosada in Athens, Ohio. “Your site’s audience almost certainly includes people who are LGBTQ themselves or have LGBTQ friends and family. To provide the best user experience, you have to understand how that facet of their lives intersects with your site. Why would you want to alienate a significant percentage of your users?”

      Strecker points out that some people hesitate when they hear the word “inclusive” because they equate it with “politically correct” and are afraid it will take away their creative freedom in crafting content for the site. “They think it’s about following a bunch of rules about what you’re not allowed to say,” Streker says. “In reality, being inclusive is about understanding your audience and making your site resonate with them. It’s about breaking away from marketing clichés and reaching out to your users in a more authentic way. A more LGBTQ-inclusive site will come across as more vibrant, fresh, up-to-date, and friendly.”

      Another factor in having an LGBTQ-friendly site, the one we teased above, is that it’s simply good for business. “It’s 2018, we live in a capitalistic society, and online shopping is a must nowadays,” says Laura Egocheaga, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist at DivibeTech in Tampa, Florida. “Money does not discriminate, and analysts at LGBT Capital estimated the LGBTQ buying power at $965 billion in the U.S. and up to $5.4 trillion globally.”

      According to a Gallup poll in 2016, 7.3 percent of U.S. millennials identify as LGBTQ. In its 2017 Accelerating Acceptance report, media watchdog GLAAD put that figure much higher: 20 percent. On top of that, Egocheaga notes, younger people — especially Gen Z — are more embracing of queer culture overall.

      “No matter if you’re a startup or big brand, your objective is to capture the attention of a younger generation to increase the lifetime value of your consumer,” Egocheaga says. “An LGBTQ-inclusive website matters because you don’t want to be turning away that buying power, let alone be considered a horrible brand in Generation Z’s eyes.”

      For Queen of Surfing, a Hawaii-based expert on online publicity and marketing, the proof is in the numbers. “If you go online and research the top 100 followed entities on Twitter, 8 percent of them are gay or lesbian or transgender,” she says. “Even more awesomely shocking: 30 percent of the top 10 most followed people on Twitter are gay or lesbian or transgender. To make the error of excluding us from any version of online presence and not considering us as a demographic when creating your website is akin to losing out on 8–34 percent of your possible profits.”

      There are perks to having an LGBTQ-inclusive site within your company as well. It can help your employees feel safe and valued, regardless of how they identify. It will also help LGBTQ customers — and prospective LGBTQ employees — find you. For example, at DreamHost, we are champions of diversity — that’s why two of our core values are to empower people and give everyone a voice.

      12 Ways to Create an LGBTQ-Friendly Website

      So how can you tweak your site to be welcoming to all? Simply follow these 12 tips to create an LGBTQ-inclusive website.

      1. Use gender-neutral terms.

      Being inclusive when it comes to pronouns is crucial, especially in drop-down forms. “Gender forms should contain more than just binary options,” says Andrew Becks, co-founder and COO of 301 Digital Media, based in Nashville. “More to the point, why collect gender at all? Sign-up form completion rates will likely be higher with one less question, so maybe just avoid asking altogether unless absolutely necessary.”

      In addition to male and female, be sure to include ‘non-binary’ or ‘other’ as an option. “If ‘other’ is chosen, give them the option to write in what they want their gender to be,” Egocheaga says. “This will give you an in-depth look into that consumer’s mind so you can retarget them with specific marketing content.”

      If it’s an option on your site, a text field is the best bet since that will provide options that cover all of your users, explains Streker, who prefers to use the gender-nonspecific pronoun ‘they.’ “This allows people to write in options that you may not have considered, such as the Native American term two-spirit or the Native Hawaiian / Tahitian Māhū,” they says. “It irks me, as a gender non-binary person, to be forced to choose between radio buttons ‘male’ or ‘female.’”

      2. Include a variety of images.

      “Avoid clichés like featuring only opposite-sex couples in photography,” Becks says. Use pictures and graphics that represent individuals and couples from the LGBT community.

      “Facebook does a great job at this when they have two males or two females get married and share it as a milestone post, showing an icon of two males or an icon of two females dressed up,” Egocheaga says. “It’s the little things that make a huge difference.”

      Though there aren’t many LGBTQ-inclusive options on popular stock photo sites that you can buy, there are sites that offer inclusive content that reflect the diversity of your audience, such as TetraImages.com, the LGBT section at Twenty20, Blend Images, PhotoAbility, and the Getty Images Lean In Collection.

      “Drawings can include LGBTQ people, too,” Strecker says. “For one of my company’s websites, to explain our product in a fun way, we commissioned a comic from artist Kelci Crawford that features a genderqueer character.”

      3. Show targeted products.

      “Where appropriate, have a section of the website dedicated to an organization’s LGBTQ-community outreach efforts or LGBTQ-targeted product offerings,” Becks says.

      “And definitely include that page on the menu so it catches everyone’s attention right away,” Queen of Surfing says. “A ‘straight’ person coming across your site might now forward it to their LGBTQ friend, having noticed that mention on your menu.”

      Want a real-world example? On its LGBTQ community page, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants spells out the organization’s commitment to diversity. In 2014, the hospitality giant became the first national hotel sponsor for The Trevor Project (the country’s largest organization that works toward crisis and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth), donating hotel rooms, meeting spaces, and catering, in addition to hosting fundraisers for the organization across the country. Additionally, Kimpton often caters to LGBTQ guests through their blog, Life Is Suite, with posts like 5 Unique Trips LGBT Travelers Will Love and Our Favorite 10 Gay Bars from San Francisco to Philly.

      4. Use SEO to Promote Your Site

      When you have an LGBTQ-inclusive site, you want to ensure the community finds it — and there are tricks for making that happen. “Build external links and partnerships from LGBTQ-community websites and blogs to diversify and improve a site’s SEO backlink profile,” Becks advises.

      Queen of Surfing emphasizes the value of a meta-tag to drive an audience. Essentially, a meta-tag is how people find your website. When you go online and input search terms in a search engine, those very words are meta-tags. To make your site pop up in first in searches, use these words repeatedly in your website.

      “In a nutshell, to attract the lesbian, gay, and transgender community to your website, meta-tag it by repeatedly mentioning the words ‘lesbian,’ ‘gay,’ and ‘transgender’ along with your matching product or service organically and wherever appropriate within your website,” Queen of Surfing advises. The keyword opportunities are limitless, she says:

      • If your site promotes cruises, include content that specifically mentions ‘lesbian cruises.’
      • If you focus on charity events, create content targeted around the phrase ‘gay charity.’
      • If your site covers healthcare topics, include an article about ‘transgender healthcare.’

      “You better believe when we go online, we don’t just search for a product or service,” Queen of Surfing adds. “We definitely input the words ‘transgender,’ ‘gay,’ or ‘lesbian’ with any product or service when we perform online searches.”

      5. Educate yourself about LGBTQ issues and terminology.

      “You can’t improve the user experience for your LGBTQ users until you understand where they’re coming from,” Strecker says. “This is an ongoing process. There are many ways to do it.” Here are a few examples:

      • Hire speakers to talk to your team about LGBTQ awareness.
      • Attend or sponsor events for LGBT people and allies in tech (for example, DreamHost sponsored an LGBT+Allies meetup during WordCamp US).
      • Follow blogs of LGBTQ advocacy organizations.
      • Get involved with local LGBTQ advocacy groups.
      • Support policies that promote diversity in the workplace.
      • Make LGBTQ resources available for employees.
      • If you have an LGBTQ person on your team, get their feedback. “They may have some valuable suggestions,” Strecker says. “But don’t put all the burden on them. Every member of your team should take responsibility for making the site more inclusive.”

      Strecker points out that the LGBTQ community is an incredibly diverse group with many communities and different points of view, consisting of people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities. “LGBTQ people are wealthy and poor, urban and rural, and across the political spectrum,” they says. “Different LGBTQ people talk about their identities in very different ways.”

      Be sure to consult with the LGBTQ community for different aspects of your website. “Include LGBTQ representation in the website design, development, testing process, hiring, and vendor selection,” Becks adds.

      6. Collect only the data you need.

      “If your site is intended to be GDPR-compliant, you should already be doing this,” Strecker says. “Do you really need to ask your users what their gender is? If you don’t have a specific plan for how you’re going to use that data, don’t ask for it. If your users are participating in an online community, they may not need to know another user’s gender, but it can be helpful to know the pronouns to refer to that user (she/her, he/him, they/them, etc.). So, your user registration form can ask for the user’s preferred pronouns. To protect users’ privacy, this should be optional.”

      Remember to think about why you are collecting this data in the first place. Consider your present and future needs, and what you plan to do with the details you amass. If there isn’t a valid purpose for it, reconsider your approach.

      7. Tell users how you’re going to use their data.

      If you do ask users for their gender, sexual orientation, or other personal information, Strecker advises telling them how you’ll use that information:

      • With whom will it be shared?
      • Will it be shown publicly?

      “Because trans people may go by different names in different situations, when asking for a user’s name you should provide help text or other context to explain how that name will be used,” Strecker says.

      For example, if you’re asking for a phone number, inquire what name they want to be addressed by if you’re going to call them. When you ask for an address, have a name field that goes with that address. If you’re collecting donations, what’s the name that should appear on the tax receipt? What’s your billing name if you’re asking for credit card information? If you’re hosting an event, ask what name should be on the badge.

      8. Watch your language.

      “When writing the content for your site be mindful of non-binary terms,” Egocheaga says. “Gender fluid people are not confused, and you must be mindful of that. All LGBTQ people want is to be respected and acknowledged for who they are.”

      When asking for a user’s sexual orientation, there are so many possibilities — it’s not just lesbian, gay, or bisexual — so your best bet is to provide a text field, Strecker advises. When asking for a user’s title, in addition to the usual “Ms.”, “Mr.”, and so on, include the gender-neutral title “Mx.” and make the field optional.

      Questions about relationship status should consider more than just married or single. “With more and more kids growing up in households with same-sex parents, it’s time to retire the perennial security question: ‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’” Strecker says. “These may seem like small things, but they can make a big difference in making LGBTQ users feel welcome on your site.”

      9. Protect users from harassment on your site.

      “More and more online communities are instituting community agreements that protect users from harassment and hate speech,” Strecker says. “A web search will turn up many templates and examples to help you get started.”

      To make sure users understand your expectations, your community agreement should list some of the kinds of harassment that are banned, for example: “on the basis of race, ethnicity, disability”. This list should also include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

      “Have a plan for how to respond to homophobic and transphobic comments,” Strecker says. “This may include deleting the comment, speaking to the user, and/or suspending the user’s account. Empower users to protect themselves. Many sites let users flag inappropriate comments to bring them to the attention of a moderator (who should be knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues). If your site has private messaging, enable users to block other users.”

      10. Use security best practices to protect users’ data.

      “Leaked data is bad for any user, but the consequences can be especially dire for LGBTQ users,” Strecker says. “For LGBTQ people who are not out at work, being publicly outed could get them fired. Twenty-eight states in the U.S. still have no laws protecting private employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ youth who are not out at home are incredibly vulnerable. If their family finds out, they could be abused, subjected to conversion therapy, or kicked out of the house.”

      In fact, a national survey by the University of Chicago found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth had a 120 percent increased risk of experiencing homelessness compared their peers who identified as heterosexual and cisgender.

      11. Support a cause.

      “If you’re a social enterprise make sure to showcase it on your site by showing exactly how you’re giving back to the LGBTQ community,” Egocheaga says.

      Whatever you decide to support, show how you’re helping on your website. “The LGBTQ community is known for having an open heart, and we tend to align ourselves with entities whose products or services are either sustainable in themselves, or entities who donate to worthwhile charitable causes and activism,” says Queen of Surfing. “Is your product or service eco-conscious in some way? I highly recommend overstating everywhere on your website wherever energetically appropriate each and every way your product or service is eco-friendly. This is guaranteed to attract the lesbian*gay*transgender*bisexual*queer pocketbook.”

      12. Avoid making homophobic and transphobic remarks.

      “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone do this, then dig themselves in deeper by saying, ‘It was only a joke,’” Strecker says. “If you mess up, own up to it, apologize, and be more mindful in the future.” This goes for all of your platforms. In addition to being careful about your website, keep the same policy in place for social media and any additional marketing materials.

      “The more you educate yourself about LGBTQ terminology and issues, the more you develop a sense of what is and is not appropriate to say,” Strecker says. “You can relax and be spontaneous in your online interactions without accidentally saying something hurtful.”

      Creating a Welcoming Website

      We all want to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who we are or where we come from. Your LGBTQ visitors deserve the same consideration you give your other users. And human rights aside, it just makes good business sense to make this diverse group feel at home when they visit your corner of the web.

      So tell us, how have you created an LGBTQ-inclusive website? Any other tips you’d add to this list? Share with us on social media or join the DreamHost Community to start a discussion.



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      Stop Trying to Get Lucky — Here’s How to Design Landing Pages That Convert


      Don’t be so humble: you’ve spent a lot of time developing your website’s marketing strategy, right?

      Between developing social media posts (and outsmarting that tricky Facebook algorithm), choosing quality web hosting and branding your website, and learning the ins-and-outs of SEO, you’ve spent countless hours — and probably a pretty penny — getting internet crowds to notice your content.

      For that, you deserve a pat on the back and a big gold star. Hooray for you!

      But here’s a kicker: have you thought about what visitors experience when they click your ads and visit your site? You’ve got people heading towards your page, but what do they do when they get there? You’re acing the marketing push to drive traffic to your site, but . . . then what?

      If they’re not converting — that is, if you’re not generating leads — then red flag! There’s a problem. If conversions seem out of reach, what do you do? Rub your lucky rabbit’s foot? Wish on a shooting star?

      Nope, you don’t need to go hunting for four-leaf clovers to generate leads. Getting site visitors to convert isn’t a matter of luck — it’s about killer landing pages. Armed with the right knowledge and tools, you website owners can attract more traffic to your site — and convert visitors — with top-of-the-line landing pages.

      Our comprehensive (we mean it!) guide covers all the need-to-know info, like the key elements of a strong landing page, best practices for copy and CTAs, and more. Plus, we’ve loaded it chock-full of real-life examples.

      What are you waiting for? Let’s dig in.

      What is a Landing Page?

      A landing page is a web page where you send visitors with the goal to convert them into paying customers, subscribers, etc. It’s typically a standalone page, meaning it’s sole purpose is to receive traffic from your marketing campaigns and generate targeted leads with a focused Call to Action (CTA).

      Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website

      The best landing pages are simple and showcase benefits for the user, while helping a visitor to opt-in (like, to an email list) and convert them into buying customers or loyal subscribers. For example:

      Uber’s landing page is focused on getting users to sign up with a simple opt-in form.

      Slack’s A+ landing page focuses on building an email list with a bold CTA button.

      Think about it this way: you’ve invited a large crowd to an event. When people come, how are they received? What type of environment do they arrive at? Disorganized chaos will obviously turn crowds off at the door, while a clean and inviting space will encourage them to stay and engage.

      It’s the same with landing pages. How you receive traffic on your site determines who comes to stay — and what they do — on your site.

      In terms of grabbing the attention of audiences and generating leads, landing pages are one of the most important elements you need to get right. Already feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry! We’ll demystify the elements of strong landing pages and how you can DIY-it on your site.

      Determine Your Objectives

      Sure, you want to drive traffic to your page. That’s important. Your site needs to attract eyes. But you also want visitors to do something on your site. Your landing page is the targeted platform that should make it simple — and compelling — for users to act, whether that be to buy, read, subscribe, or like.

      The truth is, landing pages sometimes get a bad rep. Website owners complain about low conversion rates from their pages, which is true: many landing pages don’t increase conversions. But, that doesn’t have to be your site’s reality. Your landing page can be a positive lead generator if done right.

      To begin, you really want to know what you’re after. Landing pages will differ based on industry, products or services being offered, your call to action and purpose, and of course, the people visiting the page — your audience. You want to figure out what your goals are so that you can design your landing page accordingly. And ideally, you’re creating a new landing page for each campaign. Most people don’t, even when it’s proven to increase conversion opportunities.

      Take a minute or two to map out what your objectives are — for your site as a whole (no fancy program needed; a spreadsheet should do the trick). Consider your audience and what their needs are (we’ll discuss this later). It might even be helpful to flesh out buyer personas.

      Also think about: what is the reason for the campaign in the first place? To build brand awareness? Increase sales? Establish a healthy email list? Whatever the reason, understanding your primary aim helps bring purpose and vision to your goal setting and the design of your landing page. With the overarching goal in mind, you can increase the chances of getting your visitors to do what you want them to. Score!

      Let’s start building our pages.

      6 Elements of Strong Landing Pages

      It’s true, there’s really no such thing as a one-size-fits-all landing page since your goals, offerings, and audiences are unique to your website. But luckily for you, landing pages with high conversion rates do have certain crucial characteristics in common.

      When in doubt, (or, if you’re just a landing page newbie) you can fall back on these tried-and-true elements before tailoring your page to meet your specific needs. A strong landing page must have:

      1. A Headline and Subhead

      Yeah, we know you checked out that catchy “32 Things You’ll Only Find Funny If You Loved ‘Stranger Things 2’” article when you were supposed to be responding to an email. And there’s a reason for that. The headline grabbed you, right?

      Now, you don’t need to be BuzzFeed or name drop the Kardashians to garner attention. The principle is this: if your headline is captivating, persuasive, benefit-driven, and appealing, you’ll have a much better chance of getting your audience to stick around and do something on your site.

      In fact, it’s crucial: more than 90 percent of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy, so it has to hook them if you want action. Your headline also largely affects your page’s shareability; thus, more eyes equals better chances of gaining conversions.

      The headline is easily the most important element of your landing page. It’s the first thing readers will see, and with attention spans at an all-time low, you’ve got less than ten seconds to captivate your audience before they try another site.

      Yep, that’s all the time you have. (No pressure.)

      If you want to increase conversions, your headline is a great place to start, offering about 80 percent of the opportunity for improvement to boost rates.

      When crafting your headline, make sure that it is:

      • Clear
      • Creative
      • Focused on benefits
      • To the point
      • Matching with ad text

      Take a look at these smart landing pages:

      Hello Fresh’s headline quickly and clearly identifies a benefit to their meal-kit delivery service — an easy dinner option for people who don’t have the time to grocery shop. Bam, we’re hooked.

      WordPress’ landing page headline is captivating and creative. Twenty-nine percent of the internet? Wow. We need to know more.

      A winning headline might not happen on the first try, and you may need to test more than one headline option to see which ones are the most effective for your landing page (more on testing later).

      Don’t know where to start?

      Experiment with a tried-and-true formula to get the juices flowing. Or, craft your headline last, after you’ve written copy and developed other page elements — then you might have a better idea of what you want to convey.

      Also consider the formatting of your headline. Remember: Periods. Stop. Eyes.

      You want your headline to flow easily for readability, so when it comes to punctuation, use sparingly. If you need to give “eye rests” or visual spaces for design purposes, try an em dash ( — ) or ellipses. Use the title case and make sure that your headline is big, bold, centered, and distinguishable in an above-the-fold location.

      Also, make sure that it matches your ad copy. Whether a visitor lands on your page via a social media push or an email campaign, they should know what to expect.

      Now to the subhead. Think of it like the Robin to your headline’s Batman.

      Like a great sidekick, a subhead adds further detail and context to your headline. It helps to funnel your readers down your content and gives them a reason to keep reading. A headline and subhead make a great — and essential — team, so don’t forget to pair up.

      Stitch Fix’s subhead provides additional context and continues to build interest in the product.

      A great subhead contains information that is relevant and to the point (this is not a place for distracting fluff). Communicate the value you offer and make every word count.

      2. Body Copy

      If readers have made it past both headline and subhead to your copy, give yourself a high five. You’ve created quality titles, and you’re off to great start.

      Now, your body copy: another key element that helps to explain your offerings and build interest.

      Like the other aspects of your page, it has to be tailored to your overall goal. If your CTA is higher risk — say, committing to a trial subscription — you’ll probably need a longer body copy to adequately explain the benefits of your offer. In some cases, longer-length forms have proven to increase conversions.

      On the other hand, if you’re just requesting an email, you can probably get away with shorter, bite-size-piece copy. It just depends on what you’re selling and what promotes a positive user experience.

      Graze’s bite-size copy is easy to skim and chock-full of benefits.

      Regardless of length, copy should be easy to skim (remember our short attention spans?) so:

      • Break text up with bullets or shorten paragraphs into digestible chunks if necessary to increase readability.
      • Highlight value by working to answer the question: what’s in it for me? Sell an idea, not just a product or service.
      • Use urgency (like a sale countdown timer or number of items remaining) or a discount to encourage hasty action.

      Remember to choose your words carefully, and give the copy cognitive flow — our brains like logical, wrapped-with-a-bow endings. And don’t skip editing steps. Have a second pair of eyes scan for errors.

      3. Images and/or Video

      What do paintings like Starry Night or photographs like Migrant Mother teach us? For one thing, it proves that visuals are powerful.

      They are processed by the brain faster than text, so they’re easily going to be one of the first things noticed on your landing page. Quality visuals, whether they be illustrations, product images, graphics, screenshots, photographs, or videos are essential for any strong landing page.

      And more than the science behind it, visuals play an important role in establishing an emotional connection. Take videos for example. Incorporating them on landing pages can increase conversions by 86 percent.

      Videos are persuasive and can accomplish a hefty list of challenges, like promoting retention (helping visitors remain on your page longer), increasing trust, and giving your brand a voice. Plus, you can actually show your visitors how to use your product or service. And it’s no secret: users like videos over lengthy text. Give the people what they want and include video elements on your landing page.

      With Storyline, visitors aren’t dredging through loads of copy. Rather, they’re presented with a simple and appealing video which makes staying engaged easy.

      Consider how different audiences might respond to your visuals, keeping in mind that one type might appeal to them more than another. But whatever type you use, your page’s visuals should be relevant to your product/service and to other page elements. Stay authentic and on brand.

      4. Trust-Building Elements

      If you want your landing page to start producing higher conversions, it’s wise to build the confidence of your audience. These virtual trust-building exercises might include:

      • Reviews/testimonials from current clients/customers
      • Positive press blurbs
      • Real-time social proof (“So-and-So from City XYZ just bought Product A”)
      • Logos of popular clients/users
      • Security badge icons
      • Smart, creative design (more on design to come)

      You can display these on your site to create a positive user experience and one that promotes a safe digital environment. Plus, it boosts your brand image.

      Edible cookie dough company Edoughble proudly displays the media outlets that have showcased their product. I mean, if Jimmy Fallon likes it, shouldn’t we?

      And in the case of testimonials, you’re infusing your landing page with voices of actual customers, which helps foster authenticity and makes human connections for those new or on-the-fence visitors.

      Keurig makes customer’s lauding a key part of its landing page, using a human connection to encourage buying.

      5. Clickable Call-to-Action

      Yeah, text, headlines, and photos are all great, but if there’s no way for your audience to actually do or click something on your page, it’s all in vain. 

      To boost conversions and start generating quality leads, you need a clear CTA. Whether it’s a shiny button, an easy-to-use opt-in form, or a colorful link, your page should have a CTA that’s easy to recognize and use (and it should be mobile friendly, folks).

      The whole goal of your page is to get visitors to do something. Your CTA is the means.

      You can spot Trello’s CTA a mile away. It’s clear, distinguishable, and a complement to the rest of the page — in both design and benefit offering.

      CTAs should be clearly distinguished on your site; they should be big, bold, and compelling. Give it an above-the-fold spot and a contrasting color for quick spotting. Also, make sure to test out phrasing options for your CTA buttons — simply inserting “FREE” or relying on the usual “Sign Up” won’t translate to automatic conversions for every landing page.

      6. Contact/Social Buttons

      An oft-overlooked element: further ways to engage.

      While you don’t want to incorporate any items on your landing page that distract visitors from completing the desired action, you can promote increased engagement and shareability by providing contact buttons and icons that link to your social media platforms.

      Chronicle Book’s landing page earns an A+ for contact and social buttons. We can easily find social media icons to lead us to more content and easy contact info.

      Social icons can act as free marketing — visitors have an easy way to share what they find with their own network and give you more exposure. Score!

      Contact buttons increase trust with your audience as you visibly make yourself available to their concerns and questions. As usual, test these elements to determine effectiveness on your page.

      Now that you know what elements make up a successful landing page, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: the how of designing a landing page that converts.

      The 3 Core Principles of Landing Page Design

      Now, whether you’re a developer whose coding your landing page into existence or you’ve decided to save time by picking from a range of pre-made templates, you need to be aware of the principles that guide strong design.

      Along with a captivating headline, killer copy, and a powerful CTA, your design plays a big part in conveying your message. And even though we know not to judge a book by its cover, most audiences will judge the appearance of your landing page. So don’t underestimate the power of design, and award it the attention it deserves.

      Have we hammered that idea into your brain enough? Moving on. Here are some design principles to guide your building.

      1. Navigation/UX

      We know you don’t want to hear this, but we have to say it: it’s not about you. Welp. We know. But when it comes to the design of your landing page, every visitor is an opportunity, so it has to be all about them. The elements you include, the ones you don’t, and the way they’re arranged have to be oriented to the audiences who interact with your site.

      It needs to be a simple, straightforward, and pleasant experience for them, or they’ll ditch you for another site — probably your competition. Design every element with them in mind.

      Return again to your campaign’s main goal:

      • Is it to build an email list?
      • To increase sales?
      • To bolster your social following?
      • Improve brand awareness?

      Whatever it is, do it well. It should be crystal clear for visitors to come to your page what their next steps should be. Your interface should be simple, clear, and guide users to action — on the desktop and on mobile.

      Make all elements user-friendly; this includes type, links, visuals, menus, and buttons. And remember: your landing page elements shouldn’t be placed willy-nilly on a page. Rather, they should be consciously constructed for optimum impact.

      MailChimp’s interface is clean and user-friendly. Their goal is clear.

      To help users stay on your page and engage, limit navigational elements. You’ve brought audiences there — don’t encourage them to leave by placing distracting links on your page. You want them to act on your landing page CTA, so keep exit options limited and implement a bare (or shall we say, simple) interface.

      Lastly, consider that web audiences typically read in an F-shaped pattern. Let this telling shape principle guide where you place page elements.

      2. Visuals

      Even with handy landing page templates, there is plenty of room for creativity within your design. Plus, good design is essential for guiding your visitors through your page to complete the desired action.

      A well-constructed page design contributes to high lead generation, while poor design can confuse, frustrate, and even repel visitors.

      Use design to create a path for the eye. Users shouldn’t have to think about where to go next. The design should automatically lead them through. Use images and design elements to guide viewers’ eyes to your CTA.

      We process Warby Parker’s visual first and then are drawn to the CTAs. Even with very little text, the benefit is clear. This example showcases how design is impactful in generating leads.

      3. Colors

      Think of your favorite brands or products. You probably remain a loyal customer because you associate their products or services with pleasant emotions or feelings. And often, those good vibes are built through the use of color. Don’t just take our word for it. It’s true: there’s a whole psychology behind it.

      Think of music streaming service Spotify:

      Its colors evoke calmness, peace, a “chill” vibe, — moods typically associated with listening to good music. Blue is also a popular color for marketing and sales efforts, as it often stimulates feelings of security and stability. Colors can be extremely powerful in getting people to respond and act.

      Whether they realize it or not, your visitors are being affected by the colors implemented in your design. It can encourage them — subconsciously, even — to feel certain emotions and be more likely to respond in certain ways.

      It’s true: in a study, researchers found that 90 — yes, 90! — percent of consumer decisions about products are based on color. Yep, it’s that important. Effective use of color will improve your landing page conversions.

      In addition to building an environment, it’s important to be smart about your user of color as it can largely affect user experience and brand awareness, thus, affecting your overall conversion goals.

      Related: How to Brand Your WordPress Theme — Tips for Making a Template Work for You

      Some additional hints:

      • Your CTA button is the most important element you can differentiate by color. It needs to be an obvious, clear, and an attractive standout on your page, while still conveying the right emotion for your message. Test out various color schemes and find what works best.
      • Be aware of background colors, as you don’t want to obscure text, visuals, or other page elements. And don’t be afraid of white! White backgrounds can give your site a minimalist, clean feel and highlight key pieces of information.
      • It’s not really wise to have outbound links on your landing page — hey, you want users to stick around on your site. But if you do, be aware of link color.
      • While there are guidelines for color psychology and tried-and-true landing page design templates, there really are no hard-and-fast rules for color (or many other elements of landing page creation), so test out what works for you. If popular sites have blue backgrounds, but that doesn’t work for you, toss it. Industries and audiences vary. Appeal to your users. And always: test, test, test.

      6 Landing Page Best Practices to Keep in Mind

      Wow. Your page is coming along great! But wait — there’s more to learn. Here’s a handful of landing page best practices to pay attention to as you continue to fine-tune your pages.

      1. Do Your Homework

      Bleh, homework? Don’t worry, this type is fun! After you’ve established your goals for a new marketing campaign, do some research. You’ll automatically create stronger landing pages if you take the time to collect information about your target customers and audiences. You’ll also want to study up on the popularity of your topic and trends over time.

      Armed with this vital knowledge, you can better tailor your landing pages to provide the highest value and most positive UX for your visitors. Some tools for conducting market research:

      Customer Profiles

      • Remember buyer personas? This HubSpot tool helps you build them to visualize your customer profiles.
      • Want to get an idea of who might like your product? Create a mockup profile of customers who like certain products or brands with YouGov Profiles.

      Feedback

      • Don’t wait for customers to come to you. Go ask them for direct feedback with survey-building tools like SurveyMonkey, AYTM, or FieldBloom. Bonus: it’s budget-friendly and helps you improve your brand and UX.

      Trends

      • What’s popular in internet conversation? #WorldWaterDay? #MeToo? Explore trends in your topic over time in comprehensive detail with Google Trends.
      • Want to put a finger on the pulse of social conversation? Analyze real-time social media trends by monitoring on tools like HootSuite.
      • Research the popularity of certain keywords in your industry and discover intent by utilizing Google’s Keyword Planner. Keyword intent research helps you understand what users really want, not just the phrases and words they use to search. That’s key insight.

      Data

      • Clicks heard across the world: let Google help you understand how the world is using the internet with its Consumer Barometer.
      • Need some scholarly stats? Access raw datasets in a host of fields from the Pew Research Center.
      • Think with Google is a beneficial tool from the web giant designed to share useful stats, tools, trends, and insight. An example? Explore shopping trends and product popularity with Google’s Shopping Insights.

      Remember, when it comes to building strong landing pages and increasing conversions, ignorance is not bliss. Get smart.

      2. Make it Fast

      Sad, but true: the one thing your site visitors don’t have is patience. Your visitors aren’t going to stick around forever — in fact, a measly one second delay in page speed can decrease conversions by seven percent. Slow speeds kill conversions.

      On the other hand, mobile pages that loaded only one second faster were able to increase their conversion rate by 27 percent. That can dramatically affect your business in a big way.

      Yes, load times on your site are that important — not only for optimal page design but for increasing conversions. There could be many culprits to blame for your sluggish site, like bulky code or unoptimized images. Unless you want a mass exodus, you’ve got to speed things up. Luckily, you’ve got us. As your web hosting gurus, we know a thing or two about how to pick up the pace. Try these tips:

      1. Choose a good hosting provider (Check! We’ve got your back).
      2. Optimize images.
      3. Minify your resources like JavaScript and CSS.
      4. Leverage caching.
      5. Get rid of outdated or unused plugins.

      After implementing these simple fixes, you’ll want to continue to test your site often. Google’s PageSpeed Insights can help with that. Get key info about the real-time performance of your site and suggestions for optimization.

      Slow and steady won’t win this race.

      3. Be Responsive

      No, we don’t mean like answering your backup of emails or text messages (though, that’s important, too). Being responsive means having a landing page that functions seamlessly across devices.

      More and more, having a responsive landing page is a deal breaker for web users — and for the success of your landing page. Currently, there are more mobile internet users than desktop users — a staggering 3.5 billion globally as of August 2017. If you’re not catering to those mobile visitors (only 50 percent of companies are), you’re cutting off your opportunities for increased conversions.

      With audiences turning more to their smartphones and tablets to shop and make purchases, you need to think mobile in a big way. Make sure your landing page is accessible (with all parts functional) on any device — whether your target users are riding the subway or checking out e-deals on their lunch break — and you can triple your chances of increasing conversions by 5 percent (or more).

      If you’re using a handy landing page-building software, be sure to outfit your site with mobile-ready templates. Then test: you can use Google’s program or MobileTest.me.

      Always concern yourself with how to make your landing page more mobile-friendly. You’ll see the returns with increased conversions.

      4. Be Magnetizing

      We’ve talked a lot about how every element on your landing page should be geared toward getting your visitors to take action.

      Now, it’s time for a new vocab word to add to your marketing repertoire: lead magnet. What is it? Well, it’s useful (free) content that you give away to offer value to site visitors. Maybe you haven’t heard the term before, but you’ve definitely seen examples of it:

      Floret Flower company makes sure that subscribing to their email list is worth your while by offering a lengthy ebook in exchange.

      A good lead magnet focuses on value offered and not overly on your company or your product or service. It encourages users’ clicks and engagement and is constantly improving your brand. Even if sales or other rewards aren’t immediate, it’s a profitable practice.

      Because you’re offering valuable content, users are more willing to give up their info — say, their email for an ebook download — thus, helping you towards your goal of increased conversions.

      Does your landing page make a compelling offer? If not, edit it to showcase more value.

      5. Address Your Audience’s Pain Points

      Ideally, you want to be in the business of relieving pain. No, you don’t need to brandish bandaids or stock up on gauze. The kind of pain we’re talking about has more to do with the psychology of consumers and their clicks, aka pain theory.

      Whether it’s frustration over paying too much for cable or the lack of gluten-free meal options, people are looking for solutions to their most aggravating problems. To influence your audience and increase conversions, you must understand and solve their pain points.

      The Promptly Journals company is capitalizing on a simple pain of parents: forgetting the details of life. The desire to treasure the small moments of everyday urges visitors to shop.

      In your field, what nagging concerns might your visitors have? Cater to them by providing solutions (or products) to relieve those pains.

      • What keeps your audience up at night?
      • What do they worry about?
      • What would make their lives easier?

      Be there when they need you. Expend the effort to figure out what solutions you can offer them and do it well.

      You’ve showcased what they will gain when they answer your call, but what will they lose? Make it impossible to give up. After all, when you’re the answer to their problems, they’re likely to come back (and bring their friends).

      But a warning: make sure you understand their pain points and deliver what you’re promising. Few things irritate web users more than not receiving what they were promised. Don’t disappoint them.

      You can highlight how your product or service alleviates pain by showcasing real-person testimonials, embedding solutions in your benefit-and-optimism-ridden copy, or through impactful visuals.

      Pesky diaper leaks and sensitive skin: they’re pain points for many parents. The Honest company highlights how their diapers offer the solution with a real-life customer testimonial.

      6. Be (Very) Specific

      Ever stood in an aisle of the grocery store, staring at shelves of endless items, unable to choose a product — say, a type of cereal or brand of cookie — because of the multitude of choices? We all have.

      This dilemma is encapsulated in a principle called the Paradox of Choice — the simple truth that the more choices consumers have, the harder it is to make a decision. They might even leave the store empty-handed, too overwhelmed to choose.

      The same applies to landing pages: Even though 48 percent of landing pages out the web contain multiple offers, the strongest landing pages focus on one specific ask.

      Their purpose is to get visitors to act, not wade through a slew of daunting options. This overwhelms users and decreases your chances of converting those visitors into leads. If you try and pull double duty, conversions will be low.

      So remember, when it comes to CTAs, less is more. Focus on promoting one thing, and be specific, based on your goals. Generic asks aren’t effective; specific CTAs help build trust with your audience as they come to see your focused efforts as authoritative in your field.

      Hulu’s landing page goal is very specific: start a free trial of its streaming service. Every part of the page leads toward it, and there are few other elements to distract visitors from action.

      Make sure your design caters to promoting your specific CTA and remove elements that distract or divert attention. The design’s purpose is simple: get your site visitors to act on your CTA, whether it be clicking a button, downloading an ebook, filling out an opt-in form, or following your social media platforms (or whatever you’re asking for). Every element on your page should be aligned and directed toward your one purpose.

      Resources and Tools to Design Your Landing Page

      Now, it’s not required that you hire an expensive squad of designers, copywriters, or developers to ace your landing page game. We know not everyone has the budget to hire a team to build custom pages for your site. If your purse strings are tight, we’ve got some top-tier tools to help you DIY-it (no hot glue guns or glitter necessary).

      Just like you wouldn’t use scissors to cut your grass, you need the right tools to create successful landing pages. Using the wrong tools can even hinder your lead-generating results, while the right tools can help you effectively automate tasks (yay, less stress for you), streamline your website processes, and ultimately, increase conversions. That’s the goal, right?

      Here is our virtual toolbox of essential instruments, divided by category. Try them out and see what works best for you — and your budget.

      Design Tools

      Guess what? It’s possible to set up a landing page on your current site using WordPress, and it doesn’t take an advanced programming degree to do. Or, if that’s not what you’re looking for, try our Remixer site builder to craft a customized one-off page quickly and easily.

      Copy Resources

      So you haven’t really worried about grammar since college. That’s OK! Writing tools on the web exists for a reason, so use them!

      To write better copy, try Hemingway, a desktop app that acts as your digital editor, helping to make your writing more clear and powerful (like warning you to avoid that pesky passive voice). Grammarly is another popular proofreading option that you can install to your Chrome browser to help you write error-free wherever you write (even when crafting a Facebook post!).

      If you’re missing that classroom feel, you can hone your writing skills by signing yourself for a Udemy copywriting course — flexible e-classes you can take on your (busy) schedule.

      Visuals Resources

      In terms of professionalism, your own photography is best. But there are still many options for free, copyright-safe photos on the web that can provide you with vibrant and impactful graphics — a must have for a killer landing page. A host of good options:

      Related: Edit Your Website Photos Like a Pro with These 8 Tips

      CTAs/Opt-in Tools and Plugins

      Whether you’re implementing a pop-up opt-in or a simple email registration box, there’s a tool available to make your life — and the design of your landing page — easier.

      There are tons of tools out there, so do your research and compare options before committing to an opt-in service. Look for a tool that lets you customize design and track performance. And take into consideration that many email marketing service providers often have their own suite of tools. For you WordPress users, we recommend OptinMonster, one of the best (and most popular) options on the market. It offers a variety of campaign choices so you can customize it to your needs.

      Before you go po-up crazy, though, check out our guide about the dark-side of UX design. You don’t want to scare off visitors with shady tactics.

      How to Measure Your Landing Page Success (4 Metrics)

      Lucky for you, focusing your landing page on one specific goal often makes analytics simpler. So how do you know if your landing page is effective at increasing conversions? What numbers are the most important to focus on when measuring success?

      For advanced users, there are many metrics you can track to give you insight on your page’s performance. But for those of you just getting starting, begin by keeping tabs on the following metrics:

      1. Conversion Rate

      This is a no-brainer, of course. The conversion rate measures how often visitors are answering your ask, whether that be buying something, subscribing to your email list, or following a social platform.

      As far as metrics go, this is probably the most important. After all, that’s what your landing page is trying to accomplish: more conversions.

      Note: the average conversion rate is just over 2 percent. The highest converting landing pages often reach 11 percent or higher.

      2. Traffic Source

      What platforms are driving visitors to your site? A Facebook ad? A Google search? Referral from another blog? Determining traffic sources can help you understand where to spend your marketing budget and how to optimize other aspects of your landing page, like increasing responsiveness.

      3. Form Abandonment Rate

      As you utilize opt-in forms on your landing page, you’re asking visitors to provide you with information, like their name and email address. The form abandonment rate is the frequency at which users are leaving these opt-ins without completing the necessary fields.

      If this rate is high, you might be asking for too much information and driving away leads. Test opt-in forms to determine the ideal number of fields that visitors are willing to fill out in exchange for your lead magnet or offering.

      4. Time on Page

      How long are users spending on your site? Understanding this number can help you understand how engaging your content is, and how likely visitors are to convert.

      Another word on testing: you might be shocked to learn that only half of companies and agencies that use landing pages test them. HALF. To find ways to continually improve your pages and increase conversions, you need to test.

      Most analytics programs will allow you to test different versions of your site, and this is key. Metrics clue you into what you need to change, and by conducting A/B split tests, you can determine how to implement those changes.

      Related: A/B Testing — How to Improve Your Website Through Trial and Error

      A/B testing is the most widely-used improvement method and involves creating two versions of a page to evaluate how one key element changed between the two makes a difference, and which is more effective. It can also help you get to know your audiences better and what their web preferences and behaviors are.

      Did You Know? The 2008 Obama campaign made an additional $60 million by conducting A/B testing on elements of their website!

      Keep refining your landing pages so they are as effective as possible. This will take time and some work, but it’s well worth the effort. Just like it takes several drafts to polish prose, it’s likely that you won’t get a blockbuster lead-generating landing page on the first try. These things require tweaking (and more tweaking) to get right. And they’ll need to be tested for each campaign you run.

      But don’t worry — there are tools for that.

      For A/B testing and analytics, utilize Google Analytics, Optimizely, VWO, or Kissmetrics. Crazy Egg can help you see what specific parts of your website users are interacting with, which can help you improve design.

      DIYing your stats? Here’s a math guide to help crunch those numbers.

      Stick the Landing

      We’ll bite on it: you’re never going to visit another website without first stopping to evaluate the landing page, are you? These often-underutilized pages have the power to turn page visitors into customers and loyal subscribers.

      Yep, they’re powerful — if done right.

      Combine a captivating headline, killer copy, engaging visuals, and powerful CTA with smart design, and you’ve got a solid recipe for higher conversions. No luck required.



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