This is guest post by Rob Toledo
Hundreds of thousands of web pages are designed every day around the world, and the vast majority of them are...average. That's because not every web designer puts as much thought into their pages as they deserve. If you're not sure what the most important considerations are with your next web page, check this short list for some commonly-overlooked elements needed to design a great landing page:
Think about how to keep your page loading quickly: It's easy to get caught up in adding more pizzazz and beauty to a landing site, but you rapidly reach a point of diminishing returns. It's more important to most people that your page load in 1-2 seconds than being covered in delicious gorgeousness.
Think about how your visitors will interact in the first 2 seconds: If your visitors never get around to reading the text, it doesn't matter how much your client pays for killer copy. So as the designer, you need to design a page that encourages skimmers' eyes to land on the most important elements first.
Think about what surfers will do if they get lost: It's surprisingly easy to get lost inside a web page. Clicking on a link you didn't mean to or on an image you didn't realize was a link, and suddenly you're not sure how what you're looking at relates to what you were reading. That's why navigation elements are critical on every page of your site, so make room for them.
Think about minimizing the impact of images and videos: There's nothing that affects page load time more than long videos, over-sized pictures, and dozens and dozens of small images each calling their own HTTP request. Instead, edit and minimize picture and size before uploading them to the server, and consider using CSS sprites to handle multiple smaller images at once. This helps reduce HTTP request load.
Think about what people in foreign countries will think of your site: In the USA, white is the color of purity and marriage. But in many African and Eastern cultures, white is the color of mourning. In the USA, the Chevy Nova is a car name that evokes the speed of light (an exploding star). But in Spain, 'No va' means "doesn't go", and that particular car failed utterly. Think about how visitors from around the world will perceive your site, and do your best to keep it culture-neutral.
Think about what your website will look like in the future: Your site might look great now, but consider the last time you surfed to a website and found a broken link, a fact that wasn't true any longer, or some other sign that no one was paying attention to on the website. How long did you stick around? Consider putting some measures in place to make sure that your website doesn't end up like the one you visited. A link checker that runs automatically once a month and a quarterly manual read-through can keep your site up-to-date with minimal effort.
Most Importantly: Think about what a surfer will do with your website: It's hard to believe that there are web designers out there who make landing pages that aren't carefully-crafted to be immediately useful to their visitors, but it's true. So just in case it's slipped your mind, always stop and think about what your website can do for your surfers. That is, after all, what a landing page is for.