Web Design Fundamentals: Landing Page vs Homepage

Back in the ninth decade of the 20th century, while the internet was still a novelty, homepages looked more like science fiction movie advertisements than what we are used to seeing today. Instead of dazzling visitors with flashy hyperlinks, modern homepages are focused on guiding them into the marketing funnel. Though landing pages and homepages have a lot in common, there are still significant differences in the purpose they serve and the goals they aim to achieve. 

landing page vs homepage

In today’s article, our web design agency Chicago explores the differences between landing page vs homepage, as well as all the design elements that go into building modern, highly effective pages.

Table of Contents

Landing page vs homepage: Defining the terms

We’ll start this article by defining both terms to distinguish their roles in marketing strategies.

A landing page is a standalone web page built to serve a specific purpose in your campaign. That purpose is to convert website visitors, so a well-designed landing page needs a clear call-to-action while omitting all the elements that may distract visitors.

Landing pages are:

  • Campaign-based: They only exist for the duration of campaigns that direct traffic to them.
  • Narrowly targeted: They target narrow audiences through their messaging.
  • Action-oriented: Their purpose is to entice visitors to take immediate action.
  • Siloed: Landing pages can only be accessed through a campaign link, not your website’s navigation.

A homepage is a page of a larger website that contains multiple information in order to introduce your business to its visitors. In other words, your homepage serves to entice your future clients to get familiar with your brand.

Homepages are:

  • Evergreen: No matter how much you update your homepage, it will always stay on your root domain.
  • Broadly targeted: Homepages are not campaign-oriented but rather communicate to anyone who lands there.
  • Information-oriented: They provide info on everything about your business and direct visitors to various sections of your website.
  • Integrated: Website visitors can access your homepage from each section of your website through the link in the navigation or simply by clicking your logo.

As you can see from these definitions, the intent is the main difference between landing page vs homepage. Although they may look similar to an uneducated eye, the purpose they serve is very different. In case you ever wondered why are websites so expensive, it is this wide purpose and the necessity to speak to a broad audience that requires a huge amount of time invested in the development process.

Landing page vs homepage: The messaging

A successful marketing campaign is one that clearly communicates with its target audience. While both your landing page and homepage may contain similar information, the way you shape your message on these web pages is very different. Let’s take a lead generation landing page as an example and check the types of messages it should communicate.

Once an internet user clicks on your ad, they will be directed to your landing page. From there, your landing page needs to expand on the offer contained in your ad and encourage visitors to take the next step and convert. You need to assume that users are not familiar with your business and shape the message in a way that instills trust while also describing the benefits that your product or service provides. That being said, let’s check which elements you should include:

  • Brand introduction on the landing page: That should be a brief description of your company along with the products or services you offer.
  • Trust indicators on the landing page: People tend to be extremely cautious when buying online. That is why you need to assure your future client that your offer is legit and that you deliver on your promises. However, as your landing page should stay clear of any elements that may distract visitors, you should keep the information as concise as possible. The best way to do so is to include multiple trust indicators. That could be anything from clients’ testimonials to the badges of the awards that your company has won.
  • The offer on the landing page: The best way to present your offer is to tailor the heading, the introductory paragraph, and the CTA button in a way that clearly communicates what your future client can expect to receive once they convert.

So, how is this different from the content you need to include on your homepage? Let’s explore.

Landing page vs homepage: Content

As we have already mentioned, the content on your homepage should serve to introduce visitors to your company. While building trust and detailing your services is critical, the main goal of your homepage is not to push visitors toward conversion but rather to provide them with an exploration platform for your brand. The three elements that we previously talked about should still be included, but the message should be communicated in a different manner. Here is how:

  • Brand introduction on the homepage: In contrast to a landing page where it is necessary to keep things short and precise, here it is very welcome to go into details and provide your visitors with as much information as you can. Homepages are usually broken into multiple sections such as Services, Blog, and About Us pages.
  • Trust indicators on the homepage: Evoking trust is still important, and your homepage is your chance to go into details. You may choose to include a banner slider switching between various testimonials along with links to news articles talking about your achievements and awards. That is a great way to showcase the authority your company enjoys in your line of industry without overwhelming your website visitors.
  • The offer on the homepage: While the landing page is built around a specific offer, the homepage is the place to demonstrate your services as a whole.

Landing page vs homepage: Target audience

Both homepage and landing page target audiences at different stages of the sales funnel. While the homepage attracts organic traffic, people that landed on your landing page have already shown buyer interest by clicking on your ad. This means that they are more ready to convert, so your layout and wording must support that intent. 

Landing page vs homepage: Call-to-action

This is yet another notable difference between homepage and landing pages. Since your landing pages are part of different campaigns, they’ll have different CTAs, each designed with a particular campaign goal in mind. In contrast, you only have one homepage, a brand representative, so you wouldn’t do your business any favors should you choose to push a singular call-to-action on it.

Landing page vs homepage: Linking

One of the most important practices to follow on your homepage, both from users’ and search engines’ standpoint, is to include internal and external links. On the other hand, we strongly recommend not including these in your landing pages. Why? Look at it this way.

A homepage is a place that allows your visitors to explore your brand entirely. The best way to encourage this exploration is to include links to other pages in order to provide seamless website navigation as well as links to your social media profiles.

Landing pages are conversion-oriented. They are created with a sole purpose, and any distractions should be strictly avoided. Imagine you create a landing page and put a link to your company’s Facebook profile on it. It’s like you’re saying: Hey, never mind that. Let’s see what’s new on Facebook! This way you are directing people away from your landing page before they have had a chance to convert. And once there, who’s to say they’ll only check your profile and come back to the landing page? Truth be told, social media followers are an excellent trust indicator. That is why instead of links, you should consider featuring the number of your social media followers on your landing pages.

You can use your landing page to direct traffic to other online platforms. But, as we said, you shouldn’t do it directly. Once the visitor takes action and converts, you should direct them to a thank you page. That is where you can place links to various social media pages, your homepage, or other landing pages.

Some website owners choose to include links to their landing page on the homepage, usually in the form of banner ads or embedded text. This is also a good idea since it gives you the option to lengthen customer interaction by integrating your online platforms.

Avoid the paradox of choice

The paradox of choice suggests that the more options you have, the harder it is to make a decision. And it’s true. We’ve all been there while scrolling through hundreds of channels just to conclude that there is nothing interesting on TV.

You should only give your users one option to choose from – one CTA. Alternatively, you could include a secondary call-to-action in the form of Learn More button. When designed right, these secondary CTAs can help your prospects find answers to their questions without diverting too much attention from the primary goal, which is your main CTA.

How page design changed over time

As the number of internet users increased, web designers and developers started to put more emphasis on smoothing the transition between the real and the digital world. Skeuomorphic designs made recognizing elements as well as their functionality much easier. But, there was a downside to this design choice. These elements were cluttering pages drawing attention away from the content. 

Today, designers opt for a flatter minimalistic element representation letting shadows and bright colors convey messages in a simple and more straightforward way. This became a cornerstone for creating landing pages that contain only the elements that the prospect needs to rapidly evaluate an offer and nothing more. The practice of emphasizing content through a simple layout is what makes a landing page a conversion machine.

Now, homepages are doing the same while providing a consistent user experience all the way through.

How to employ a visual hierarchy to guide your visitors

People are wired to view pages in a certain way. Eye-tracking studies showed that the first thing a page visitor looks at is a headline or an image. Then they would scan the left side in search of bulleted or italicized text and afterward read the body copy. This is known as the F-shaped pattern. If you look at the picture below, you’ll notice areas of warmer and colder colors. The warmer the color, the longer your eyes stay focused on that area of the page.

text heatmap

What these eye-tracking results tell us is that in order to get readers to focus their attention on your most important content, you need to base your visual hierarchy upon people’s reading habits. Try organizing your web pages in this manner:

  • Use a big headline and images to grab readers’ attention.
  • Segment your content with subheadings.
  • Include bullet points to draw attention to listed elements.
  • Briefly elaborate subheadings and bullet points through body copy.

Don’t stray away from familiar web design principles trying to reinvent the way people read. A study conducted by MIT as well as a thorough analysis of landing page optimization statistics showed that users prefer familiar page layouts. For example, people are used to seeing a company logo in the upper left corner of a page and underlined or differently colored links.

Landing page vs homepage: Which to use and when

As we are nearing the end of the article, let’s establish when to use each of the main topics of our conversation.

If you wish to promote a certain campaign, you’ll need a landing page. Whether your goal is to collect blog subscriptions or sell a product, the bottom line is that you are asking your visitors to react in a certain way. Landing pages are coupled with a pay-per-click advertisement. Since you are paying for every web page visitor, directing them to a homepage is a bad business strategy. With so many distractions and an overall general approach to users, you are unlikely to see satisfying conversion rates. In other words, you’ll be wasting money instead of making money. 

Your homepage is the face of your brand, so the info featured there is oriented toward new visitors only starting to get to know you. On the other hand, landing pages represent the final stages of the sales funnel. People that end up there are mostly already familiar with who you are and what you stand for, so they decided to put their faith in your brand and become customers.

The nuances that separate homepage from landing pages make up the fundamentals of digital marketing knowledge. By building upon this knowledge, you’ll manage to create a strong internet presence.

Final thoughts

Over the years, landing pages and homepages have started to look more and more alike, both in design and function. This is primarily due to the fact that advertisers and web designers have noticed all the benefits that this conversion-optimized layout brings. Today, the lines that used to separate landing page vs homepage have blurred. However, though they share the same DNA, landing pages and homepages are rather cousins than siblings. They have different purposes, speak to different kinds of audiences, feature different elements, and have different lifespans.

We have talked about ways to use the most important web page elements to bring premium results in two completely different scenarios. That being said, it is time to conclude our article. May your homepage live long and prosper, and may your landing pages faithfully serve your campaign goals.

Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

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