Your website provides a first impression of your business to prospects, describe the value your products deliver, and, when done well, invite visitors to take the next step towards becoming a customer.

There is an overwhelming number of resources available covering how to design, build, and optimize a website. Intended to help you focus on the fundamentals, this guide will walk you through creating a homepage, product page, pricing page, and conversion page using real-world examples.

Structure and content

First and foremost, your website must provide your prospective customers with the information they need to progress down the funnel.

However, the biggest mistake companies make when it comes to their websites is prioritizing what they want visitors to know over providing the information visitors need to know to convert.

Imagine you are having a conversation with a prospective customer. As you tell them about your company and your products, what questions do they have? What words or phrases do they use to describe their challenges?

Speak to your prospects!

While this guide suggests questions to answer, there is no substitute for interviewing your potential and existing customers to learn how they describe their challenges and what questions they have as they evaluate solutions.

Your website should function similarly to this conversation. Rather than listening to a long-winded sales pitch, visitors to your website want their questions answered.

Consider mapping each major element of your website to different funnel stages:

Funnel stage Page Primary goal
Awareness Homepage Help your visitors understand your primary value proposition(s)
Consideration Product page Explain how your product solves various pain points
Evaluation Pricing page Allay potential concerns or objections your prospects may have
Conversion Registration/Sign up page Encourage your visitors to take action

This model is useful because different visitors will be at distinct stages of the funnel. Without you there to guide them, your website must make it easy to orient themselves and find the information they need.

Layout and design

Parallel to the way your home, product, pricing, and conversion pages follow the sequence of the funnel, the layout of each page should consider the order in which visitors collect information.

For example, on a product page, specific features and integrations should come after the overarching value propositions and use cases. Similarly, pricing pages must explain any metrics used to differentiate among pricing tiers before information about the tiers themselves.

Before writing copy or laying out your page, think about what information a visitor should reasonably have by the time they arrive on the page. Which points do you need to reinforce? Then, what is the next most crucial piece of information they need? That should come first.

Remember, this is not the path you want to force visitors down; it is the path they want to go down. If you are struggling to differentiate between the two, schedule some interviews with people from your target market. Pay attention to the order of these conversations and mirror them on your website.

Examples

Example 1: Homepages

Zoom vs BlueJeans

(View the full pages using the links above.)

The first thing both Zoom and BlueJeans do well are the transparent, concise primary navigation bars. It is easy to predict the area of the site each item takes you to, allowing visitors with different objectives to find what they need.

Zoom's navigation bar.
BlueJeans' navigation bar.

While Zoom's headline uses plain language to address a specific pain point for a large portion of potential customers*, BlueJeans uses a vague imperative. Connected how? There are many ways to "stay connected." Connected to whom?

Compare BlueJean's vague hero copy with Zoom's specific question. Which is more effective at introducing the company's product?

*This guide was written during the coronavirus pandemic when many event planners were transitioning in-person events to virtual ones.

Without having scrolled, the homepage has already started to answer the question, "What does Zoom do, and why might I need it?" From BlueJeans' page, we can assume they enable communication of some sort.

Each site follows their hero with a list of use cases. What Zoom does well here is leading with the customer's language, not their own. By contrast, BlueJeans highlights their product names over the functionality they provide.

Note that BlueJeans leads with product names where Zoom emphasizes functionality.

The remainder of Zoom's page (over 60% of the overall content) is providing social proof—validation from other users and customers—to build confidence in Zoom's products. Using social proof in the form of reviews, quotes, and customer logos helps visitors understand who the product is for and removes some of the perceived risks of working with a new company.

Social proof is provided in the form of customer logos, 3rd-party reviews, and user quotes.

BlueJeans reserves less space for social proof (roughly 40% compared to Zoom's 60%) and instead opts to articulate their value propositions further. Once again, BlueJeans foregoes plain language that a customer would actually use for opaque phrases like "real-time intelligence" and "unparalleled interoperability." Consider how this section would change by substituting these phrases for specific pain points described in everyday English:

  • "Real-time intelligence" becomes "Spend less time taking meeting notes."
  • "Unparalleled interoperability" becomes "Use your existing phone or TV."
Once again, Zoom wins by using clear, customer-centric language where BlueJeans resorts to fluffed up taglines.

Finally, Zoom makes it clear what the next steps are: request a demo of their product or to "buy now." Similarly, BlueJeans compels us to start a trial. While some visitors may skip straight to conversion, many likely want to see pricing before proceeding further.

Overall, Zoom is more effective in addressing the needs of a first-time visitor to their homepage. The two pages are similar in many ways, but Zoom's use of customer language wins out over BlueJean's self-centred copy.

Example 2: Product pages

Sketch vs Figma

From the copy in the hero area, Sketch and Figma differentiate themselves through their products' respective value propositions: Sketch touts a library of "plugins and extensions". In contrast, Figma focuses on its "efficient workflow."

Both companies chunk related functionality into distinct sections. Rather than a laundry list of features, this allows visitors to skip irrelevant areas easily and locate compelling information faster. Additionally, both Sketch and Figma use straightforward copy and vocabulary familiar to their target audience.

Figma uses animated vignettes to highlight key product features.

Figma is more successful in showcasing the product itself. Unlike Sketch, Figma focuses on small, animated product "vignettes" to demonstrate specific elements of the product's functionality. Sketch, meanwhile, uses highly stylized versions of the entire UI, making the visuals less useful.

Note how Sketch effectively uses social proof to reassure the visitor at the point of conversion.

Sketch and Figma's pages each incorporate additional social proof in the form of customer quotes. However, Sketch uses the phrase "join over a million designers" to subtly reinforce their social proof immediately before asking the visitor to take the next step (starting a free trial). Figma could benefit from adding an extra element of social proof to reassure the visitor at the conversion point (a trial sign up form).

[Coming soon!] Example 3: Pricing pages

Subscribe to stay tuned for analysis of two different examples of pricing pages.

[Coming soon!] Example 4: Conversion pages

Subscribe to stay tuned for analysis of two different examples of conversion-focused pages.