Last weekend I spent five hours building my first landing page from scratch. I’m not a very good coder and in the past I’ve always used a designer to help me out so it was a real baptism of fire.
Despite my many, many missteps I made it out of the end with the highest converting landing page I’ve ever worked on, including those with other designers (here’s the page).
In this guide I’m going to walk you past all of the pitfalls that ate away at my time so you can go straight to the things that worked. There’s even a few options that will help you make a landing page in less than 30 minutes.
Before we get started there are a few things you’ll need:
- A call to action: What do you want people to do? Sign up for your service, join your mailing list, watch a webinar? Whatever it is you’ll need to have one (and only one) clear action you want them to take in mind. Everything else is just noise.
- Compelling content: By focusing on that call to action you can write brief content that encourages them to complete it. This should explain the benefits of completing the action and dispel some of the pain points why people may not sign up. The best landing pages are short and succinct so bear that in mind.
- Visuals to tell the story: Words alone won’t make for a very visually interesting story so images are a necessity. Some of the options below do include default images but you will need to ideally replace them with your products/service and some of your own branding to make them suit.
I’ve broken the different solutions down in to five options based on level of experience. Whether you know how to code or don’t know how to inspect an element there’s an option for you.
Build a Landing Page in your CMS
The easiest way to create a landing page is to use the assets you already have. So long as you have a system that allows you to create pages yourself, which every content management system (CMS) will allow you to do, then you can quickly create a page to prove the concept.
This approach has the advantage of allowing you to keep with your existing branding and styles so the landing page won’t look wildly different to what you have already. You can therefore spend your time focusing on the content and crafting a great message and call to action.
However being stuck to your existing site does limit your options. With only one design you can’t really split test different layouts and elements to see how they convert. You’ll also likely be stuck with many unwanted page elements such as navigation bars that will distract users from your core message. Landing pages work best when they are free of other distractions, whereas most websites are designed to keep users going from page to page finding content.
I’d recommend this option if you want to refine your message but it’s not a great option for the long term as unless you have a very robust CMS you’ll run out of possibilities very fast.
Build a Landing Page in WordPress with Plugins
If your site is on WordPress or you have the ability to install WordPress on your domain then there are a number of plugins that come with landing pages templates that you can use. There are a number of different options in this post.
However be warned that almost all of the plugins I found that were free either only worked if you purchased a licence or were limited in functionality without paying. For example one tool let you set up everything for free but would only let you collect contact details if you paid.
I couldn’t find a single good free landing page plugin that didn’t come with a catch so for me this isn’t really an option I can recommend (seen a good one? Let me know in the comments).
Build a Landing Page with Software
If like me you’d rather leave the coding to the web developers then there is an option that lets you get the design you want without having to study a different language. There are several web based providers out there with templates that you can quickly edit to get your desired design and content in place. You can change themes, drop in times and move around the various elements to your heart’s content.
These providers will typically provide over 100 templates to choose from although I have to admit from testing several last weekend they’d be better off if they included a smaller sample of actually good ones but I digress. Because of this each provider is only as good as two things, the templates they have and the quality of their editor.
Much of the time I wasted last weekend was faffing around in editors that were hard to use to the point that I cancelled my licence there and then. In the end I settled on Instapage because their editor did the trick and I liked the theme.
I’d recommend you check out which one has the right themes for you. Most providers have preview pages of their templates so you can see those first.
This approach will help you create lots of variations quickly, including mobile friendly options and get effective feedback on which ones perform best. For those who like to experiment this is the best option.
Buy a Landing Page Theme
An alternate approach is to simply buy a pre-existing theme and modify it accordingly. This way you only have to pay a one off fee and then you’re got the theme forever to do with as you wish. However if you want more designs you have to pay for each one so this is more of an option for those who just want one or two variants they don’t plan on changing too much.
If you want an amazing design then this is by far and away the best option. Many of the pages you can buy have been made by great quality web designers so they go above and beyond many of the other templates out there. For example the guys at Theme Forest have some amazing pages. If you’re picky with design like I am then this approach is more liberating than buying a set of 1,000 templates and hoping one fits like many of the service providers offer.
It’s unlikely you’ll find a design that’s perfect once purchased, as you’ll need to use your own branding and imagery so you will need some coding experience in order to make these changes. These templates don’t come with simple to use editors either so if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty with code then this may not be for you.
Build a Simple HTML Landing Page
If you’ve made it this far and thought that those options don’t seem right for you then that means you want to code your own landing page from scratch. This isn’t quite as hard as it seems, thankfully there are many great resources out there if you’re looking to learn how to code, with several in my free marketing mega bundle.
If you already have the required coding skills then you don’t need me to teach you how to suck eggs. What you really need is design inspiration that you can learn from. Here are 35 examples and some really useful critiques as well.
This is truly the most bespoke option of all. You’ll get a page that looks and performs exactly as you’d like but it takes time and probably even longer then you think. Also remember to make your page responsive by using a framework (like these) as the last thing you want to do is alienate mobile visitors.
One Last Thing
Before you launch any of the above options be sure to test them out. You can get great honest feedback over on Inbound.org in “the pit” for free. The group is filled with landing page experts who have spent years creating and improving landing pages and they are incredibly generous with their time.
Best of luck.