Robert McKee

Robert McKee began a rigid course on Landing Page development several weeks ago and has made steady progress since then. I recently sat down with him at a local restaurant to get his take on the course and find out what he’s learned. Having completed the first three segments of the course he reports that the proper development of a Landing Page sequence has more to do with the science of psychology than a pretty theme on a page. In fact, while the “lipstick on the pig”, as he put it, does play a role in the overall effect, it’s a very, very, small portion of the final result.

Motivation

An entire segment of the course-work is devoted to “Motivation”, specifically the motivation of the visitor. It’s not enough to know that a visitor has found your landing page, you must know why they are motivated and to what degree. That’s two separate parameters, related, but separate, and you need to understand them both. A visitor that finds your site because he’s following a court order to do something has a very strong “why” factor, but he’s probably not very excited about it.  

“All of this can be, and is, expressed in mathematical terms and formulas, which is something I didn’t anticipate in this course-work, but…”

once you understand the theory behind it all it tends to remove the subjective element from Landing Page design, and replaces it with an objective infrastructure that takes the lion’s share of guesswork out of what will and what won’t work in Landing Page design.

“What that means to the visitor is an overall smoother experience once he lands on our pages. What it means to the client is less time spent experimenting with the various elements of the design using the client’s money!”

Clarity

Following the Motivation segment, Robert successfully passed (all testing so far at 100%! grade-level) the chapter on Value. It might seem obvious that the value offered needs to be clear; that is, the benefit offered should be easy to see, showing “clarity of value”, but that’s generally not the case. The very abandonment rates experienced by most landing page process funnels is testament to that.

“A common mistake that most designers and programmers make is to add more and more content in order to clarify a point, which usually has the opposite effect of creating clutter. And clutter hides value.”

This, too, is part of the numerical approach to page design and can be measured and improved. Again, starting off from a better beginning improves response rates, conversions, and lowers the campaign costs to clients.

Friction

The study of “Friction” on Landing Pages apparently impressed Robert a lot since he spent most of his interview time talking about “Friction”.

“The psychology of what people look for, what prevents them from finding it, and how they react to it is fascinating.  Friction is not on the page itself but in the mind of the visitor. What one visitor perceives as friction the next one does not. ”

So how do you plan an approach to friction if it’s in the head of the visitor?

“You have to know who your audience is, what and how they tend to think as a group, before entering your friction variables into your equation for building your landing page. It’s not at all about the pretty page. What do they see, how will they interpret that, and how can we counter it or eliminate the problem before it happens? This is not something you want your high-school nephew to tackle for you unless you just like spending buckets of money.”

With quite a number of segments left to go in the course, it seems Robert has quite a handle on this logical approach to design and conversion of the modern landing page. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with next!

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