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From my understanding, landing pages are to have one single focussed objective towards a conversion goal.

I'm currently designing a landing page with the goal of getting users to sign up. The site's main navigation remains on the page. There's a search box at the top which is a big feature on the site that our regular users use often but I feel as though including this function on the landing page may deter they from converting.

So search box or no search box? Having the main navigation there allows them to jump to any other page on the site also but I feel like it's somewhat less appealing.

  • perhaps you can start by improving why the user should register on your site. As you clarify the benefits on the landing page, people will probably find it easier to guess (or better yet know) what the site is for :-) Keep iterating as you were ;-) – Xabre Aug 25 '15 at 21:52
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No, don't do it

While more information is needed, IN GENERAL the answer would be "NO, don't do it!". Think about this: when you create a landing page, you need to create a funnel to make users perform an action (usually registering or purchasing). The funnel image is not random, think on its shape and you'll realize you're going from general to particular, from broad elements to action. Every single element converges on the CTA.

Now, start adding elements. Including your navigation! You'll easily see how you're diverging attention from the only thing that matters to anything else that doesn't matter at all. Try to imagine your users viewing all elements and how their focus will go to several different points in the screen.

The above paragraphs are a simple description of something that has been thoroughly tested: the more distractions, the less CTR (or in other words: the less friction, the better the conversions). Basically, you're adding actions (as in... Call To Action!) so you're offering several CTAs in the same page. Sounds crazy? Well, it is

Your landing page is not your home page

If you're building a landing page, this is because you need to do something different than your homepage. Sometimes, home pages might be landing pages by themselves, but if you need to add different elements (deep navigation, deep linking, search, social media, info and so on), you better build a simple, CTR focused and straight to the point landing page

Not all elements have the same weight

So I mentioned your navigation as well as your search box. It's easy to see that in some cases, you may use navigation for CTR purposes, as long as you don't have a complex navigation. But all in all, it could happen. And at worst, in a navigation you have a more or less clear indication of where are you going, and what will you expect to see once you click.

Now, think on a search box: you're simply adding unpredictability and randomness. Your users won't be clicking a controlled link, but they will look for whatever they want, even things you won't have in your site. As you may imagine, they won't search for "how can I sign up for this amazing site?" but they will look for almost anything you can imagine. Bottom line is: you can't control the user behavior. Instead, you're hoping that after performing a search, they eventually land somewhere useful for you. To better understand this, try reading about locus of control concept.

In short...

There might be a few situations where this search box might be useful (for example, if you're looking for an apartment) but most often than not, you should avoid any distraction from what you intend users to do.

Additional Resources

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A search bar is used by visitors who know what they are looking for. Your landing page is designed for the target audience that isn't aware of the service or product of the website yet.

Getting conversions

You'll get the most conversions when you use the AIDA formula to draw the attention of the visitors and to engage them with the product or service the website has to offer. Make sure to include all the information the visitors want to know before they get to the 'sign up' section, so they won't have to use the search bar.

Conclusion

When your landing page is designed the right way, it will not hurt your conversions if you include a search bar. The only reason to include the search bar is for the returning visitors who are looking for other content on the website. These visitors are less likely to (or did already) sign up anyway.

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