Let me start by framing this discussion a little bit with a scenario. You’re a small business with a popular service which you provide online. You have two types of traffic to your site on a regular basis.
- Existing customers who know your product and have already bought into your brand. These are repeat customers or users who just want to get right into the meat and potatoes without being distracted by marketing materials and a sales pitch.
- Potential new customers who have found you through a web search or by clicking on an advertisement. They may be interested in what you have to offer but don’t know you well enough to pull out their wallet or give you their contact information.
You don’t want to treat these two the same way do you? Imagine two scenarios: The first is you’re doing some quick research on a new solution to your problem and know nothing about a new product but when you visit new page you get shown a complex user interface with dozens of links. Next up is you’re a regular user of an application yet every time you load it up you have to go through the new user tutorial.
How does this relate to Home Pages and Landing Pages? Read on and find out.
What you want on a home page is easy access to all the important functions a user is likely to want. If the user is signed in already then this could be either a dashboard giving a overview of the most recent actions / changes / statistics about the site. If the user is not signed in you’re going to want a brief reminder about what the site is for, corporate and partner logos and a large login form which all match the general layout and design of the members/authenticated users section of the site.
If your site has a variety of different functions or different user groups you may want to provide links to the different areas of the site and perform authentication when the user tries to get somewhere they don’t (yet) have permission to go.
In some cases – home pages also serve the function of the “Primary landing page”, This is typically for sites which don’t have any specific external marketing campaigns or only provide content rather than having any particularly important call-to-action (CTA)
A landing page a very different concept. Landing pages are meant to have only marketing materials and obvious CTA links which drive a new user towards some form of conversion or desired action. Landing pages should have similar branding to the place where the user likely came from rather than trying to match the look and feel of the application or site. Here are some examples:
- If you have a landing page for users coming from Google – try to provide a user interface that lists publicly accessible content in a list with a short description and an image with a minimal number of potentially distracting links.
- When making a landing page which will be the target of a marketing campaign – try to provide a more content rich version of the same advertisement used to draw in traffic.
- If your landing page is doubling as a home page – try to provide only a few links which break the traffic up by user type.
- If your site is a complex application try to provide a tutorial or new user guide as a landing page.
- If you’re marketing a product which is sold during a conversation then you want to drive the user towards a contact form.
In short – the goal of a landing page is to reduce the time it takes a user to find out how your site works by keeping it similar to where they’re coming from. Done well – this can greatly reduce your bounce rate and increase conversion.