Please meet: Matthew Bouchard
As Art Director at ion interactive, Matthew has conceptualized and developed literally hundreds of wildly successful landing pages, microsites and mobile experiences for some of the world’s largest brands. Matthew is passionate about employing innovative, creative strategies in every aspect of his work.
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew for a deeper, more intimate look into landing pages, as seen through the eyes of an experienced designer.
EB) What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing on landing pages?
MB) Mobile search is predicted to double this year! To meet that growth mobile-optimized landing pages are becoming an essential part of every online marketing campaign. Design-wise, I enjoy creating mobile experiences for our clients, because smartphone screen sizes force pages to be tighter and more streamlined resulting in simple, clean pages.
Multi-step forms continuously prove to be a highly effective. Typically you see them on a page that has very little content, splashy imagery and one or two oversized form fields along with a call-to-action as the main focal point. Personally, I like to call them ‘baby step’ forms, because they only have a limited number of form fields and start-out by asking easy, no-brainer, low-investment type questions for the user. For example, “What’s your zip code?” The visitor quickly fills out the first form, first because it’s so simple and secondly because no real personal information is required. After taking the first baby step, a visitor will then continue to become more trusting of your brand and engage in the content as they progress through the the experience. After additional steps are taken, the visitor starts to feel more invested in the outcome and the likelihood of completing the conversion greatly increases.
Another trend is that directional cues are becoming more stealth. Good designers know that you can effectively draw a visitor’s attention to the call-to-action in a variety of creative ways without resorting to cheesy, PowerPoint-esque arrows that end up as distraction or clutter. Clever positioning with imagery, adjusting the page element contrast levels and creating visual hotspots with color can often be incredibly effective and much more visually appealing.
One more trend that I’ve noticed is actually taking place with marketers themselves. In the past it would take a good amount of thumb-wrestling to convince them to keep pages clean with ample white space and to limit the amount of marketing copy. Today’s marketers are much more sophisticated and seem to have adopted the “one-page, one-goal” mantra that we [the ion team] are endlessly chanting. Maybe it’s a widespread acceptance of Apple’s pristine esthetic, or perhaps it’s due to the fact marketers are managing more pages than ever. Regardless, today’s marketers now seem to be embracing the creation of purposeful, elegant pages that are highly focused on one single goal. Amen!
EB) Around here (at ion) we talk a lot about making pages that “wow.”
What are “wow” factors?
MB) I would say that without results there is no “wow.” Our aim is always to create pages that visually look better, instinctively feel better and radically perform better than anyone else’s. What makes our pages more successful is that we are EXTREMELY data-driven and results focused with our design approach. All our creative is incubated in research and hatched from data.
EB) Copy vs. design? Do you think one is more important than the other?
MB) This is a great question, and probably what’s most exciting about landing page testing. As marketers we may have a preconceived idea of what a winning combination of headlines, imagery and content might look like, but at some point we need to put those beliefs aside, start testing pages and ultimately let the audience decide what speaks to them. The key is connecting with your audience. We are frequently surprised by the winning combinations produced by the results of multivariate testing. Both copy and design need to work hand-in-hand to be completely targeted to the audience’s expectations and to spark the audience’s interest to engage.
EB) What is the most important element to test?
MB) Definitely headlines.
EB) What makes a great landing page headline?
MB) If I were to list three things they would be…
- Relevant. Headlines aren’t written in a vacuum. It’s crucial that the headline message match the original ad the visitor clicked on. The ad copy and keywords must be factored in.
- Clear. A great headline is brief, concise and straight to-the-point. If promises and expectations are made in the ad, they must be delivered in the headline.
- Directional. Once people are drawn in, adding some direction helps to tell them what you want them to do and it keeps them moving in the right direction.
EB) What is your favorite LiveBall feature?
MB) It’s no secret that ever since LiveBall introduced ready-made widgets (RMWs) I’ve gone a bit wild. The reason why I love them isn’t just for the slick interactivity or how easy they are add to pages without code. I mostly love them because RMWs allow content to be tightly consolidated. Often, so much vital information must be included on a page, but space is limited. We definitely want to avoid weighing pages down and scaring visitors away with too much copy. RMWs allow content to be neatly packaged and delivered in a way that is fun and engaging for users in the form of image rotators, sliders, tabbed-content, accordions and lightboxes. I love ‘em.
With that said, I have also been one of the fortunate few to get a sneak peak at the amazing new LiveBall features that are coming down the pike. They are still in the works (and I’ve sworn to remain tight-lipped) but LiveBall users are going to LOVE them — the best truly is yet to come!
As you can see, landing pages truly are Matthew’s life. He lives, breathes, and loves creating beautiful landing pages. His insights and views on landing pages are taken to levels beyond most can imagine. Having the passion about employing innovative,creative strategies in every aspect of his work brings Matthew his landing page success.