I love WordPress, but I have to admit that creating an attractive blog page is a pain in the butt.
A simple post full of text is easy enough, but try adding columns, tabs, or sliders and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
This presents a problem, because prospective customers are more likely to complete a transaction if they see a well-designed page. Thankfully, some smart guys and gals have tackled the problem and come up with some great solutions.
We’ll take a look at the best options:
Unbounce is a hosted landing page application. You design the landing page on Unbounce’s website and publish it on their servers. They’ll show you how to tweak your domain name configurations so that the landing pages looks like it is sitting on your web host.
The Unbounce solution is excellent. It’s easy to use and offers enough options for beautiful and sophisiticated landing pages. I particularly like:
WYSIWYG Drag-and-Drop Editing
You build landing pages by dragging and droping elements on to a canvas. It’s intuitive and easy to learn. The tool is packed with tool-tips offering information on each tool and element.
Easy Email Service Integration
The Unbounce landing pages can be configured to send leads directly to Aweber, Mailchimp and others.
Great Analytics and Reporting
The Unbounce dashboard lets you analyze the performance of every page along with some helpful tools for split-testing. The analytics tool also integrates with Google analytics and offers real-time stats.
Excellent Technical Support
The support team is fast and knowledgeable. They also moderate a community blog where you can find answers to most questions
The Unbounce team also publishes a comprehensive blog about landing page design and conversion rate optimization (CRO), making the site a one-stop-shop for landing page content. Most of the most sophisticated landing pages are actually hosted on the Unbounce system.
The only minus for the service is that it’s expensive. At this point, they charge $49/month for their “starter service”
Premise, created by Copyblogger Media, takes a different approach by creating a landing page WordPress plugin. The plugin works with your existing theme. The advantage here is that your landing pages look like the rest of your blog.
Since its creation, the Copyblogger Media team has added more features including Membership Sites, Subscription payments, private forum integration and the ability to securely sales ebooks, software and other digital downloads. It really is a full featured solution.
Another key plus is that that the plugins cost is a one-time charge of $165.00. You can use the plugin on unlimited sites and get lifetime updates. This is great if you plan on using landing pages on multiple blogs.
My only problem with Premise is that it’s a pain in the butt to customize. Out of the box, the landing page templates are pretty basic (and plain ugly) in most cases. You can customize the layout but you’ll need to have a fairly good understanding of CSS. If you have no clue what I just said, then get ready for a relatively steep learning curve.
OptimizePress is the heavyweight contender in the Landing Page space.
It’s been around forever and it’s creator, James Dyson, is a software coding Energizer Bunny. Like Premise, OptimizePress handles a lot of features really well.
A few of the standout features are:
- Quick and beautiful Squeeze Pages: You can create a squeeze page right out of the box in about 10 minutes.
- Integrate with Blog: OptimizePress is a WordPress theme giving you all of the features of a blog. It’s simple to set-up a blog on the backend to handle all of your news, product announcemnets, and “thought leadership” stuff.
- Nice Membership Site functionality: Like Premise you can create a membership site easily without needing to get down and dirty with exotic installations and configurations
- Lots of Support: OptimizePress is well supported with video, articles, and quick support staff.
This is the software I use for my landing pages. It’s quick and I don’t have to fiddle with CSS to get a look I want. Awesome.
The price is decent too. You get up to three installations and lifetime updates for $97.
OptimizePress is a WordPress Theme. This means that it takes over the look and feel of your blog. So if you love your Studiopress Agency theme, kiss it goodbye to use OptimizePress. This is why some folks prefer to use Premise to keep their current creative look.
This plugin is surprising powerful and simple landing page creator. Technically Visual Composer is just a layout tool. With it you can create pages with columns, tabbed areas, photo sliders, and a bunch of other stuff. With a little imagination you can create a good-looking page like this one.
As you can see, this is a fairly sophisticated layout which took me about 30 minutes to do – from installation of the plugin to publishing. Right now, this solution is my go-to solution for creating pages that don’t require video or opt-in forms. However, with a little extra work, I can use Visual Composer for those tasks as well.
The pluses for Visual Composer are:
Cheap: This plugin costs $25 at CodeCanyon.net, by far the most powerful layout plugin on the market for the price.
Easy: The developers have managed to pack in some great layout features into a fast and intuitive interface
WYSIWYG: Drag and Drop Interface: Yep, it’s drag-and-drop easy to build great pages.
CSS Friendly: I’m a tweaker. I always try to adjust something and put my own stamp on it. Visual Composer gives me quick access to the CSS for each element on the page. This is where Visual Composer kills other more expensive options like Premise.
Plugin: Visual Composer is a plugin that works with your current theme. Awesome plus that makes it a decent alternative to OptimizePress or Unbounce.
But all is not sunshine and roses in the Visual Composer land
Functionality: Visual Composer is a streamlined layout tool. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of its more robust competitors.
No Opt-in Integration: Technically you can force an optin-form into this tool but it won’t be pretty.
Minimal Support: I didn’t see a vibrant 3rd party support community or a dedicated support team for Visual Composer. If you get into trouble, you’ll be on your own.
If you haven’t noticed, I love this plugin. At $25, it’s a no-brainer. Most of all, it has enough power to take care of 80% of my landing page needs.