What matters the most in a landing page? (Hint: it’s not design)

When someone is looking for a landing page for their product or service, they may look for help from a graphic designer or a coder.

However, graphic design and coding the page properly are just the surface-level attributes of a good landing page.

In this article, you’ll learn

-what matters in landing pages

-a step-by-step process used by best marketers to create offers (landing pages and sales pages)

-why sometimes ugly landing pages convert better

1. What really matters in a landing page?

It’s not graphics, forms or mobile-responsiveness.

It’s the offer.

We want to tap into emotional motivations, problems and desires of our prospect - meet them at their stage of awareness and make a persuasive argument why they should buy / sign-up / call or whatever your landing page wants the user to do.

You want your landing page to:

  • Reaffirm the user that they’re in the right place
  • Hook the reader and get them interested in reading more
  • Talk to the reader’s desires and motivations, show them how you can solve their problems
  • Deal with their objections, build trust, answer “why should I choose you”
  • Make it easy, low-friction and get the user to buy / sign-up / call

Obviously the design and technology should support ALL of those goals.

But it’s the copy that makes up most of the offer’s power, design and technology are secondary.

2. Why starting with the design is backwards

3. Copy-first approach is better

You need to come up with the offer first.

Do the customer research, talk to the sales people, dig in forums and Facebook groups, analyze prospect inquiries and then write the copy (or have it written for you).

If it reads and flows well in a Google Doc, then it’s ready to be put into a template, not the other way around.

Things like:

-a contrasting color for the call-to-action button

-fast loading

-reducing a number of fields in the form

-adding a click-to-call button on the mobile version

are all important elements, but they’re just surface-level problems and won’t fix a weak offer.

Coming up with the copy and writing the offer will determine 80% of the success of the landing page (if not more). Supporting graphics, visual cues, proper UX is the remaining 20%.

4. Proper flow of creating a landing page

Somehow icebergs come up often when I’m trying to illustrate a point

1. Market research

Quoting one of the most famous copywriters in the history of marketing, Eugine Schwartz, you cannot control the market forces, you can only channel them.

That’s why you need to understand the main desires and sophistication of the market (how aware the market is).

I start with market research: I look into Facebook groups and forums, Amazon book reviews, comments on industry blogs or Linkedin posts, look into competitors, their ads, and positioning.

2. Customer avatar and digging into the intellectual property of the client

The next step is a strategy sit-down with the business owner, where I extract insights from his industry experience. I may talk to the sales force, listen to prospect calls (if possible), read chat inquiries, look at reviews of the client and the competitors.

This allows us to build the customer avatar (or avatars) and come up with the offer.

Let’s say you found a nice landing page template and want to start from there.

You’re restricted by how many lines of copy you can put in your headline and subheadline, how many benefit points can you use, and how many testimonials you should have.

It’s unlikely that the template will have the flow you need to make the best argument for the user.

Also, templates are created by graphic designers (not marketers), and their purpose is to look cool on their Behance profiles, not to turn clicks into revenue.

Example of a customer avatar I’ve created for a client- this document is a foundation that can be used for all future marketing efforts.

3. Writing the offer

Then, I write an offer, structuring it like a persuasive argument I would make to convince someone.

Again, my goal is to:

  • Reaffirm the user that they’re in the right place
  • Hook the reader and get interested in reading more
  • Talk to the reader’s desires and motivations, show them how you can solve their problems
  • Deal with their objections, build trust, answer “why should I choose you”
  • Make it easy, low-friction and get the user to buy / sign-up / call

Sure, I’ll use a headline, subheadline, list of benefits, testimonials, FAQ, and other typical elements but I’ll use them because they form the natural flow of the argument, not because a template has a testimonial section I need to fill.

I’ll rewrite sections and try different approaches.

Each sentence must earn its pixels on the page. Good copy is when nothing else can be subtracted.

4. Choosing the technology, creating the design, implementation

By this time, we’re 80% there.

I usually choose the technology based on the marketing channel (a landing page for Facebook ads should be faster which requires specific technologies) and now we can dress our offer with matching design.

I choose the colors, fonts, and the “feel” of the landing page.

As a slightly colorblind marketer-designer, I choose colors using Paletton.com to make sure my color palette makes sense.

I use tested font combinations for headlines and paragraphs - usually a combination of a serif and sans-serif font. https://blog.snappa.com/

Making the first impression right

The first section (“above the fold”) is most crucial. The user needs to know what the page is about at first glance. The design must support the impression our page is intended to make.

Read more here why first impressions are so important.

5. Testing and the final checklist to avoid endless back-and-forth

At this point, we add the marketing tools and tick off items from the final checklist.

By the way, almost always the last few percentages of any deployment take a disproportionate amount of time for the whole project.

Progress of deploying a website in time can follow an 80/20 distribution - just like writing this article. Polishing the last 10% of this article took me 50% of the whole time of writing it.

To avoid weeks of back and forth, we use a “final checklist” to streamline the process of:

-getting materials from the client

-testing the page on multiple devices

-identifying potential usability issues

-testing if the marketing tools are glued together correctly


The design-first approach is not optimal. Picking a landing page template and thinking “what should I write to replace lorem ipsum” limits your ability to convert the user.

It’s best to start with the question “how can I persuade a user to buy?” and write the offer. Only then, we can dress it in matching design with all the necessary supporting visual elements.

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