Mechanics of an alpha launch page

It’s been a while since I last posted - not because I didn’t want to, but it’s really been incredibly busy.  Just last week I posted more than a few investment banking hours.  But you know what - I loved every single minute of it.  There is something great when you try to create something from scratch.  Which leads me to how we created our launch page (and I’m only going to cover our 1st page only!)

We’ve actually heard some comparisons to Wander’s website, which to be honest, we didn’t even look at.  We were more inspired by Fab, and what we could do differently but staying in the same vein - a full scale image that is visually grandiose.

Some suggested that we start with Launchrock or just a WordPress site, which is infinitely that much easier.  However that didn’t appeal to us because of the following:

  • background images don’t always load well when uploaded into Launchrock

  • there are co-branding issues (visually looks more interesting when the landing page is developed in-house)

  • the invite engine, which is absolutely key, needs to be customized to each individual business.  Launchrock doesn’t offer enough customization

First, we looked at best-practices - what worked in the past, and what didn’t.  For this we found one key source

Second, we asked our graphic designer to select a full-scale image that looks both visually amazing and impressive.  We hypothesized that visual stimulation is the true key part of a launch page, and we wanted to stick with our gut.

Next we developed the verbiage for the text box.  What do we say?  How much do we say?  What do we ask for?  Each startup has to judge separately how much information to disclose.  And I don’t think the first time will be the best either, it’s really very much a learning A/B process.  But as our research found, minimalism is best, with differences in text color to highlight key words.  If you take a look at some other landing pages (even Llustre, for example), certain words do appear.

Next was the composition of the picture, and where the text (and text box) fit in.  Here we used the graphic designer’s skill sets to develop mock-ups, but we ultimately had to use our design expertise to judge which versions we liked.  Is there more of the sky?  Does the building need more warmth or more shadows?  How big should the text box be in relation to the picture?  These are all valid questions, and to have someone on the team with an aesthetic sense AND someone who can develop mock-ups is key.  Preferably side-by-side, so you can see the iterations at a much quicker pace.

After that, we had to utilize tech expertise to put the coding together.  What fonts are utilized throughout the page?  How does the landscape picture scale when the windows are re-sized?  How does the email address text box react when something is entered?  All in all, our first landing page probably took as close to as much labor as the design part, simply because we had to figure out the coding and how it would apply to this landing page.

Lastly, we had to figure the process.  What happens when someone enters an email?  What is the response?  How long is the timing?  What information do we release?  And how does it work, technologically?  Again this required a tech expertise side by side so that we could iterate much quicker.

In summary, the things I learned during the process were:

  • Labor: Have both graphic design (to develop mock-ups) and tech (to develop code and tech process)

  • Location: Preferably next to or on the founding team.  Iterations will be that much quicker

  • Process: The best way to get the perfect landing page is to jump in and do one, screw up, and iterate.  There are so many issues that will pop up that you didn’t know existed.  And you won’t know until you try.  If you have full-time labor devoted to this task, it could take up 1-2 weeks if this is the first-time you’re doing this!

Take a look at The Travelst and let me know what you think.  If you have comments - I’ll be a happy camper! Tak (at) thetravelst.com