In the previous article I introduced the classical concept of a microsite that gives extra publicity to a specific cause or campaign, but I also highlighted a more unconventional approach of setting up a minimalist website that is particularly tailored to the needs of business founders in the beginning stage of their business.
My focus in this part is, again, on the classical concept of a microsite.
What Do You Need To Build A Microsite?
Let’s first have a look at what you need in order to build a microsite.
To start, you will need some kind of platform or tool. There are a few tools around that specialize on microsites, but you can use a platform like WordPress, too. I will cover a few prominent options in the second part of this post.
In terms of features of the microsite, this is what you need in order to build a microsite:
- A CLEAR CONCEPT WITH GOALS – What do you want to achieve with the microsite?
- A PLATFORM – Theoretically you can use any type of website, but make sure it is responsive (mobile-friendly), doesn’t use Flash, and allows sharing and networking
- A DESIGN IDEA – What’s the tone and style you want to give to the microsite? Find a dominant color, or better, a color palette, and a set of fonts to use
- FEATURE CLARITY – Depending on what you want to achieve with the microsite (your goal), you want to make sure your platform or the tool you use provides these features. I am thinking of infographics, photo galleries, opt-in forms, links, donation forms, lightboxes, video embeds, buttons, timers, etc.
- INTEGRATIONS – This is a prominent feature, and thus I am treating it separately. Integration to your Email Provider (MailChimp, AWeber, etc.) is essential, as collecting email addresses is usually a driver for the campaign.
Tools for Microsites, Landing Pages & One Pagers
Alternative names: Squeeze Page or Lead Capture Page.
A single webpage specifically designed for a marketing purpose: for visitors to land on. Because a landing page typically has no global navigation that ties it to the main website, it acts like a gate. It is intended that visitors shall have only limited options available. A landing page helps to guide visitors toward your intended conversion goal, which is: subscribing to whatever your offering is.
In general, landing pages are less expensive and easier to set up, which makes them a great alternative to microsites. They are also often more branded than a microsite.
Contrary to a landing page, which focuses on only one action, a microsite’s focus can be on a variety of actions.
It serves a specific purpose (e.g., launching a product or marketing campaign) and is usually temporary. It usually has its own domain or subdomain.
It holds more information than a landing page, and is generally more about providing content and raising awareness of a certain topic.
Is a minimalist type of a website that lets users create a one page website with varying features. A visitor can retrieve all the available information by scrolling down the website. One Pagers were invented to allow small businesses to establish a simple and easy-to-build website.
If you want some inspiration on gorgeous one page websites, have a look at One Page Love & ‘What exactly is a one page website?‘. It showcases One Pager of all types and categories, some of them are designed as landing pages. There are also lots of free resources showcased. Definitely worth to check out!
Whilst all 3 types can be optimized for SEO and sharing, only landing pages and microsites serve as an extension of the main website.
Before we get to the tools that can be used for setting up landing pages, microsites, or even one pagers, let me point out a few good-to-knows for creating a microsite.
- DON’T MAKE THE MICROSITE TOO TEXT-HEAVY – To keep your audience engaged, you will want to use bite-sized chunks of information. It’s also a good idea to be generous with white space.
- CONSIDER ITS OWN BRANDING – It’s okay when a microsite breaks away from the main site’s regular branding. It increases the visual impact and allows for experimentation.
- CREATE CREDIBILITY – Even though you want to break away from your main site’s branding, make sure you include a logo and introduce yourself to visitors who are unaware of who you are
- MAKE IT USER-FRIENDLY – I mentioned this before, but responsiveness is not optional any longer. Your microsite should look perfect on any mobile device. Also, providing a consistent user experience is very important nowadays. Make sure everything that is needed for the site’s message is included (embedded) in it. Don’t send visitors off to other sites.
- TEST EVERYTHING – Trust me when I say: software always needs to be tested. Use a tool like Responsive Design Tester Tool, Screenfly or Resizr to test for proper display on different mobile devices. If you have the budget, you can also signup for a test visitor’s experience on your website with UserBrain or UserTesting. Otherwise, you may just want to ask a friend or colleague to look at it, and test all features for usability. – There is also a fantastic free tool called Peek, which allows you to have up to 3 user reviews per month for free. (Hint: that is an awesome tooltip!! 🙂
Tools for Landing Pages
Instapage – Premium builder for landing pages that offers a decent set of integrations. – $$
Landing Pages Builder – Freemium WordPress plugin that relies on custom templates to create high-quality landing pages. Comes with integrations and an in-built A/B tester. – Free & $$
LaunchEffect – Is a WordPress theme that lets you create viral campaigns in minutes. Responsive. – Free & $$.
LeadPages – Popular vendor for landing pages. Provides many templates for responsive landing pages, includes analytics and sophisticated features for landing page customization. – $$
OptimizePress – is a sophisticated WordPress theme and plugin that uses pre-made templates. Offers integrations and analysis features. – $$
ThriveThemes Landing Page – WordPress plugin that lets you publish conversion-optimized landing pages. Comes with over 100 different templates and includes several editable options, including content boxes, responsive columns, call-to-action buttons, testimonials, featured product grids and a countdown timer. – $$
Unbounce – Mobile, responsive landing page builder for marketers. Has integrations as well as analytics included. – $$
Tools for Microsites
Readz – Website Builder that specializes on the classical type of microsites (for marketing purposes). Pricing models vary with visitor sessions. – Free & $$
ReadyMag – Website publishing tool with astonishing clear design and amazing features. Sets new standards of what is possible with websites and allows one to stand out. Really great for microsites! – Free & $$
Tools for One Pagers
OnePager – Website builder specialized on building mobile-friendly one pagers. – $$
Populr – Easily create and track online pages to share information, grab attention, and get results. – Free & $$
SquareSpace – With its tool ‘Cover Pages’, SquareSpace launched a new range of minimal one page templates. You can get a single page website with unlimited bandwidth and storage that is mobile-optimized for $5/mth (paid annually) – $$