Head of web development Alan Rowe has been doing a lot of thinking about immersive landing pages. They’re popular amongst big companies like Google and Apple, but that doesn’t mean  smaller firms can’t take a slice of the immersive pie, as he explains…

In 2013, we’ve seen a number of very large companies change their thinking, and create televisual, immersive product-specific landing pages.

This is almost certainly because of the explosion in the use of tablets to research products.

You must have seen them – they’re big, bold and stylish and colourful. If not, then look at how these two giants are battling it out.

Nexus immersive landing page 1

iPad immersive landing page 1

(No prizes for guessing that the Apple page came afterwards, and pushes the envelope further than the Nexus page.)

So the idea is to sell the ‘lifestyle’ that accompanies the product. From a traditional landing page point-of-view, they are much more subtle in their sales approach. However, they encourage brand loyalty, so may have further-reaching effects than immediately obvious.

This kind of page is ideal if you have a signature product, a luxury product, or a high-profit margin product (or category of products).

After all, if you’re making a lot of money from this one product, surely it’s worth investing more in its sell.

The problem

Unfortunately, it isn’t easy for many of us to experiment with our landing pages as freely as the supergiants do.

Let’s say you’re a marketer for a blue-chip company. You use an enterprise level template, such as IBM WebSphere, .NET applications or even Magento.

You’ve probably been told you need it by your IT department. You’ve almost certainly inherited it.

You’re frustrated because changes take forever – changes are expensive, and it’s difficult to test any ideas or carry out your marketing goals to your satisfaction.

And these enterprise-level systems traditionally treat all products as if they’re equal. The hoops you need to jump through to put any one product on a pedestal can seem more trouble than they’re worth.

But if you could make a dedicated page for this product, you’d be giving it the special attention it deserves.

The solution

Thankfully, there are ways round this issue.

You can create a responsive ‘child template’ for your enterprise system, stripping out all unnecessary code and functionality.

Or, you can make a static, standalone page.

Some enterprise platforms include features designed to make the static-page approach easier. Magento, for example, makes it possible to create a simple link to add a product to basket.

You can embed this link within a static landing page, and still have your customer re-enter your conversion funnel to check out.

Other enterprise level systems find other ways to make this approach. WebSphere, for example, uses a java applet.

But by stripping everything out and making a simple child template, you can potentially leverage other benefits for your website in the process.

Whilst you’re simplifying, why not make this the excuse to serve your CSS, javascript and media assets from a CDN (content delivery network), to make the page load as fast as possible?

Now that you’re injecting Javascript through your CDN, you could also look to re-organise the other page templates you’ve been struggling with – at runtime.

Behaviour-driven UI enhancements

This reorganisation is the perfect opportunity to experiment with some behaviour-driven UI enhancements.

To demonstrate how these could work, let’s look again at the Google Nexus page I linked to earlier.

Nexus immersive landing page 2

Notice, as you scroll down the page, how the ‘buy now’ button is always fixed at the top right.

This could be taken further. If you implemented a similar feature on your own site, you could make the ‘buy’ button flash, or change colour, when the user scrolls down more than halfway.

It’s the user’s behaviour that drives the change – it ‘tells’ the website they’re a warm lead, and your site responds with a slightly harder sell.

Another example of this technique is to trigger an online help box to pop up after the user has been on a site for a certain length of time.

I wrote a blog on behaviour-driven UI enhancements earlier this year. Go there for the in-depth view.

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About the author:

Alan has 15 years of web development and database engineering experience for companies across a wide range of sectors including projects for Peugeot and Kia. Alan spent five years as Technical Director at a web development company and was also a trainer at Birmingham University teaching database driven web solutions.