Structuring a Landing Page

Help your visitors quickly know what your department or office does, what's important and where to go next.

Key elements:

  1. Clearly stated purpose or office information
  2. Next steps to take for most users
  3. Navigation/pages are organized in an intuitive manner


Building blocks:

  1. Include a simple statement of purpose or welcome
    • No more than two short sentences; use the Lede area
  2. Keep it minimalistic
    • The landing page should hold only high-level information
      – just enough for users to know they are in the right place, what’s important now and what to do next.  
    • One large photo, video or slideshow or two to three smaller photos are a perfect balance for the text
  3. Structure it visually and semantically
    • Use heading formats in the proper order to create sections and subsections and help separate content
    • Short, succinct paragraphs
    • Bulleted or numbered lists for dates, checklists, courses, etc.
    • Indented paragraphs or blockquotes 
  4. Give them somewhere to go
    • Provide blurbs and links to key information
      • Update these during the year as visitors' needs change
    • Take advantage of styles to add icons to links or create a button; these provide visual cues to the user
    • Site or section navigation optimally has about seven items. Usability studies show that visitors have a harder time with more options.


Stumbling blocks:

  1. Dense text
    • Break up big blocks of text with headers
    • Put listed items into bullets
    • Save details for deeper pages
  2. Content not working in the space
    • Long blocks of text in small format spaces like sidebars or microsite highlights
    • Too many items in a sidebar - consider if they are all equally helpful or relevant
  3. Images used in place of content
    • Put information in text and use an image or element of a poster to illustrate
    • Posters are generally hard to read and are an accessibility barrier
  4. Out of date content
    • Keeping content up to date builds credibility and the perception that the information is all there and correct
  5. Large menus
    • Group links into logical buckets
    • Link text should be clear to user - while the link text defaults to the page title, the text can be different to shorten or make more clear


Key Takeaways:

Take advantage of the formatting options and, for department sites, dedicated fields.

Create and maintain an editorial calendar for site updates.

Resist the urge or the requests to put everything on the homepage.