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11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages : Comments

By Michael Nguyen

May 25, 2005

Comments

Patrick H. Lauke

May 26, 2005 3:09 AM

“10 Fix Forms

...Make the input cursor hop to the next field after a user finishes the current field.”

I hope you’re not suggesting using some javascript monstrosity to automatically jump a user from one input to the next. This poses an accessibility issue for users who can’t see that this jump in focus has happened, and generally goes against the expected behaviour of the browser. If implemented the wrong way, this sort of javascript can also lead to problems when users attempt to SHIFT+TAB backwards through the form to correct a mistake.

Carl

May 26, 2005 9:05 AM

Yeah but when it works, it’s incredibly handy IMHO at least. Great for filling out phone numbers, SSNs (for credit applications), etc. Any kind of atomic, usually numeric data.

Harry

May 26, 2005 11:02 AM

Thanks for the article, Michael. Nicely written, and as it turns out for me, very apropos.

Hunox

May 26, 2005 12:17 PM

Carl, I strongly disagree! Using JS to automatically jump between fields is against the natural design of forms. Offline GUI applications don’t do it, offline paper applications don’t do it. Why would online form do it?

Most users already know that TAB switches to the next field. Users expect that behavious. Upon finishing the entry of a field, user presses TAB. JS already did the “Tabbing” for you, so the user ends up skipping 2 fields instead of one.

I consider myself an expert user and I always get caught by those annoying design features that try to help, but in reality only break the web. The reason – there is no way to distinguish a form that automatically jumps and the one that needs manual TAB jump. There is no design clue.

OT: Many people don’t know, but Shift+TAB jumps backwards.

Tom W.

May 26, 2005 4:32 PM

This was a great article, thanks for the info. The interesting part to me was the idea of competing against yourself – and the example of the iPod Ad is very common.

On the auto tabbing between fields – this is used in software install applications for entering product keys, and also tax preparation software… so it can’t be all bad. I’m seeing it more and more, and thus I’m starting to get used to it, and even find myself expecting it to happen. Isn’t that how new web innovations happen? We eventually become accustomed to the new trick, and then we get annoyed when it’s not used.

patrick h. lauke

May 26, 2005 4:44 PM

Carl wrote: “Yeah but when it works, it’s incredibly handy IMHO at least. Great for filling out phone numbers, SSNs (for credit applications), etc. Any kind of atomic, usually numeric data.”

actually, i’m a strong believer in not splitting up things like phone numbers and such into separate, “atomic” fields, but rather have a single field where possible and some good server-side processing if necessary…

Paul

May 26, 2005 4:47 PM

Michael, great article. Thanks. I try to impress upon any client that their site has, in general terms, 2 jobs: to discover current interests and to provide information relevant to those interests. When it’s set up correctly, a sponsored ad discovers a “current interest.” This is valuable information and it’s a real shame to see how many sites throw it away (or ignore it) by linking the ad to an irrelevant or over generalized page.

Cameron Moll

May 27, 2005 7:04 AM

Here’s another real-world example just for kicks. This was the landing page for PPC ads with the search phrase “medical billing software”. I couldn’t get too crazy with the design, as the general structure was based on previous work by another web shop. But during the testing period, the conversion rate (forms submitted) was nearly twice that of sending them directly to the homepage. Note you can’t navigate to any other page, and the form was about half as long as the standard form elsewhere on the site.

dannyFoo

May 29, 2005 2:23 AM

Very good article written. Having a good idea on how to implement focus point on a blog article that might be found from Google. :) Cheers.

jono

May 31, 2005 4:41 AM

Patrick wrote: actually, i’m a strong believer in not splitting up things like phone numbers and such into separate, “atomic” fields, but rather have a single field where possible and some good server-side processing if necessary

I hear you, but isn’t true that splitting things like SS#, registration keys, etc, into separate fields helps reduce bad input? I remember a study that suggested that the most things we can see as separate-but-together is 5; after that the become a ‘group’

FWIW I get irritated when a site breaks an SS# or a CC# into parts and then doesn’t implement autojumping.

Lisa Giovanni

May 31, 2005 9:23 AM

Wow, very comprehensive article!

Arun Agrawal

June 5, 2005 7:52 AM

Excellent article. It adds some really interesting ideas to my repertoire. Thanks!

Removing extraneous links from the landing page is very bold and it takes a lot of effort to convince the client – but you can really reap rich dividends. Direct relevant copy above the fold with a single action point can generate fantastic conversion rates.

Kudos!

tony

June 8, 2005 12:52 PM

Well I enjoyed reading the article – one of many that suggest less is better – less navigation, less copy etc.

But when I look at most bigger e-commerce retail sites they almost all have full navigation, several ‘more details’ links etc. Perhaps the strongest example is the mighty Amazon.

Does anyone have any examples of large (or not so large but definitely not small!!) e-commerce retail stores where they employ this technique?

c.

June 15, 2005 6:17 PM

Patrick wrote: actually, i’m a strong believer in not splitting up things like phone numbers and such into separate, “atomic” fields, but rather have a single field where possible and some good server-side processing if necessary

Jono wrote: I hear you, but isn’t true that splitting things like SS#, registration keys, etc, into separate fields helps reduce bad input? I remember a study that suggested that the most things we can see as separate-but-together is 5; after that the become a ‘group’

This is an interesting topic in and of itself as you add in complexities such as internationalization or phone number with extensions. In these cases, having separate fields may not work if the data is not in a universal format, however not splitting them up, although technically possible, can have it’s own challenges in communicating how to enter the data relevant to that specific user segment as well as lead to quite a large ‘group’ of information…

Michael, great article. Thanks for getting the discussion started!

Jonathan

June 22, 2005 1:43 AM

This article lays out the basic problems with most landing pages, that’s for sure.

But, I have to tell you, I’ve done hundreds of landing sites for dozens of companies, and one thing I can say without a doubt is that I continue to be suprised by the lack of consistency in results.

Putting stuff above the fold doesn’t always improve conversion for example. In fact, in some designs, I have seen it drop conversion!

While I believe much of this articles content’s are good, I would strongly suggest that anyone seriously considering landing pages consider running a round robin (50/50 split for example, or 33/33/33 if you have three) arrangement between different designs to help evolve the effectivity of the system over time. Otherwise, it’s hard to know what works.

Best,

Jonathan

Michael Nguyen

June 22, 2005 3:55 PM

Thanks for all the comments everyone.

Jonathan is absolutely right – my article is a list of tips for improving landing pages. Something to keep in mind, but not to follow word for word. Don’t forget one of the most basic marketing lessons: test, test, test.

Michael Baumgarten

July 13, 2005 8:37 AM

Tony said: But when I look at most bigger e-commerce retail sites they almost all have full navigation, several ‘more details’ links etc. Perhaps the strongest example is the mighty Amazon.

You have to remember that Amazon has a brand that is widely recognized. People are going to stick around them longer, because of trust, but also because they are extremely full of content.

Whenever you are pitching an idea to someone who isn’t famliar with your brand, or your company, its infinitely better to keep your landing page as simple as possible, mostly because you still have to convince them. Amazon already has millions convinced, thats the difference.

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