What’s the difference between a landing page, a homepage, and a website?

In the ever-evolving digital universe, understanding the distinct roles of landing pages, homepages, and websites is like having a reliable roadmap for an effective online presence. Each one serves a unique purpose, catering to specific business objectives and interactions you want your visitors to have. Want to run a successful marketing campaign, or new potential customers to explore your brand and what you’re all about? To do that, you have to know how to use websites, homepages, and landing pages effectively. 

It all starts with a simple question: what the heck is even the difference between these three? Let’s cut through the digital jargon and shed light on these differences.

What are landing pages, homepages, and websites?

Before we ask bigger questions like “What is the difference between a homepage and a landing page?” and “Is a homepage the same as a landing page?” and “What is the meaning of life?” we have to dive into what landing pages, homepages, and websites actually are and get to know their individual traits.

What is a landing page?

Landing pages are the surgical tools of online marketing, designed with a laser focus on a specific campaign or offer. Unlike homepages and websites crafted for exploration, landing pages are meticulously customized to guide visitors toward a singular call to action. The primary goal of a landing page is conversion, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up, or any other desired action. Here are some of the features that set landing pages apart:

One goal, or call to action: A landing page concentrates on a singular objective, streamlining the user experience towards a defined goal.

Minimal distractions on the page: Extraneous information and navigation options are stripped away, ensuring that visitors remain focused on the intended conversion.

Messaging and design match: The content and design of a landing page align precisely with the specific campaign or advertisement that led the user to the page.

Audience targeting: Landing pages can be tailored to different audience segments, providing a highly customized experience based on demographics, preferences, or other factors.

Curious to learn more about what a landing page is? Click on the linked resource for more details.

What is a homepage?

Knock knock, who’s there? The homepage serves as the front door to a website, offering a broad introduction to a business’s brand, products, services, and values. Homepages are great for what they do, which is to provide general information and encourage visitors to explore. As the main gateway to a website, a homepage acts as an introduction to that business’s brand, product, services, values, who and what it’s for, who to contact—you name it. It’s meant to set a “first impression,” encompass all a company has to offer, and direct visitors to learn more throughout different site sections.

Key attributes of homepages include:

General information: Homepages encompass a wide range of information about the business, catering to a diverse audience, including those unfamiliar with the brand.

First impression: Homepages aim to create a positive initial impression, presenting an overview of the company’s offerings and encouraging visitors to explore further.

Multiple page goals: Unlike landing pages, homepages may have various goals, directing users to different site sections for further information.

What is a website? 

A website is not just a collection of web pages; it’s the online headquarters of a brand, the hub where information, products, and experiences come together. So, what exactly is a website, and why does it never go out of style? 

A website is like the headquarters of your digital empire—an interconnected collection of web pages residing under a common domain. It’s the go-to place where users can explore, engage, and discover everything about your brand, products, and services. Let’s delve into the key elements that make up a website:

Information hub: At its core, a website is an information hub. It houses comprehensive details about your brand, its history, mission, products, services, and anything else you want the world to know (but don’t go too crazy sharing confidential business info.)  It’s basically your digital resume as a company, constantly accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Navigation backbone: Think of a website as a digital city with streets and avenues. Navigation menus and links act as the streets guiding visitors to different sections—whether it’s the “About Us” or the “Products” section. This structured navigation allows users to explore various facets of your online presence.

Multifunctional platform: Websites are versatile. They can serve different purposes, acting as online stores, blogs, portfolios, or interactive platforms. A website can evolve based on your needs, accommodating various features to enhance user experience.

Branding showcase: Your website is your digital storefront, representing your brand online. From the logo and color scheme to the overall design, a website visually communicates your brand identity, leaving a lasting impression on visitors.

Interaction hub: Websites facilitate interaction. Users can leave comments, engage in forums, or contact you directly. This two-way communication fosters a sense of community and connection between your brand and audience.

A website is the comprehensive hub where the narrative of your brand unfolds. While landing pages are the strategic agents focused on specific campaigns, and homepages are the welcoming entrances, a website is the entirety—the sprawling cityscape where all the elements of your digital presence converge.

What is the difference between a landing page and a homepage?

It all comes down to what landing pages vs homepages are designed for. The key difference between a homepage and a landing page is focus. And the proven lift in conversions— sales, signups, leads, or whatever action you want visitors to take—that results.

Unlike landing pages, homepages are not designed for a singular call to action but rather aim to provide general information and encourage exploration. 

Focus is why landing pages are so effective for marketing. As opposed to homepages and websites, which are designed for exploration, landing pages are customized to a specific campaign or offer and guide visitors towards a single call to action. In short, landing pages are designed for conversion.

That’s because, as we discussed earlier, a landing page’s focus applies to several elements of a visitor’s experience:

  1. One goal or call to action
  2. Minimal distractions on the page
  3. Messaging and design matched precisely to a campaign or ad
  4. Audience targeting

While great for an entry point, the exploratory nature of homepages can hinder marketing campaigns. The multitude of links, buttons, and navigation options may dilute the messaging and redirect visitors away from the targeted conversion goal. While homepages are essential for providing comprehensive information and guiding traffic, landing pages excel in focused, high-conversion campaigns by eliminating distractions and providing a seamless user experience.

Being tasked with that high-level introduction means a homepage must speak to the broadest audience—including those who may have never even heard of the company, let alone know what it does and why it’s valuable. All of this makes for relatively generic messaging, multiple-page goals, and a whole lotta links, buttons, and navigation for visitors to take various actions.

While that’s perfectly aligned with a homepage’s goal of exploration (go homepage!), ummm not so much for effective marketing.

Exploration = distraction. When it comes to marketing, that distraction erodes your campaign’s focus with diluted messaging, competing links, and options to stray away from a specific conversion goal. In other words, if that PPC ad for 15% off hamster bowties sends people to your homepage, the chances they’ll end up on the About Us page instead of making a purchase (and wasting ad spend) are a lot higher.

Simply put, homepages can’t do it all. Let them focus on informing and directing traffic—and landing pages focus on turning traffic into conversions.

Why landing pages convert more traffic 

We’ve talked about focus being the key factor in the difference between a homepage and a landing page. But let’s go over why that focus is so important for turning traffic into sales, leads, and customers.

On average, a great headline or cool page design isn’t what makes a visitor click that “Buy Now” button. It’s the overall experience from that very first ad, email, or social media click. The more customized and, yep—focused—that experience, the more compelling it is.

Let’s go back to the hamster bowtie example (if only for the mental image). If you get an email promoting 15% off hamster bowties, your expectations are aligned with that offer. Clicking through to a landing page dedicated to that exact promotion, with a gallery of bowtie designs, and call to action to buy before the sale ends, not only meets those expectations but guides you directly to the offer you’ve already expressed interest in by clicking through in the first place. Whereas if you’re sent to the Clothe Ur Rodent homepage, that customized, streamlined experience is instantly broken and puts it on you to locate the offer amongst all of the other information, links, and calls to action. That interrupted momentum and lack of focus makes it way more likely you’ll abandon the offer out of confusion, frustration, or simple distraction.

Again, there are several elements of focus that give landing pages their conversion power.

A single goal, or call to action

Think of a web page as a bucket and the traffic you’re sending to it as water. A landing page bucket has one hole drilled into the bottom, so the stream of water naturally flows through that specific hole (call to action) and can be directed to a spot you’ve chosen. A homepage bucket has multiple holes in the bottom and around the sides. You can choose which tap that water is sourced from—Instagram, email, a Google Ad—but once it enters the bucket, you can’t choose which hole it’ll flow through or where it will land.

Those extra holes are conversion “leaks.” Landing pages zero in on one chosen conversion goal, giving you more control over where traffic flows, and ultimately, where your marketing efforts and ad dollars go.

Campaign goals and conversion funnels

Minimal distractions

As discussed above, what’s necessary for a homepage is inherently distracting in the context of a marketing campaign. Website navigation, extra links, information unrelated to your offer, and multiple different calls to action to encourage exploration compete for attention and draw it away from your conversion goal.

You don’t want to leave it up to chance that visitors will take a specific action despite all of the other options they’re given. You want to guide them directly to your offer with a clutter-free page dedicated to that offer alone.

A customized experience

One of the biggest differences between a homepage and a landing page is the ability to completely customize a visitor’s experience from ad, to click-through, to conversion. So you can apply that necessary focus on a really granular level, down to the very last pixel.

Sending people to a landing page customized to match the ad, email, or social media post—with targeted messaging, cohesive design, tailored information, and that single call to action—harnesses the interest they’ve already expressed and gives them the exact experience, or better, they subconsciously expect from that initial click.

That focused, flowing experience leaves less room for pause, fewer chances for distraction, creates more opportunity to showcase your offer, and shows visitors that you respect their time and attention by giving them exactly what they want. Which adds up to a far more compelling experience overall. And bonus—the more customized and relevant your landing page is to your ad, the more Google will reward you through Quality Score and cost-per-click.

match landing page with your ad campaign

Audience targeting

That customized experience lends itself to more precise audience targeting, too. One landing page can be duplicated, tweaked, and even A/B tested to speak to different members of your audience and hone in on what’s relevant to them.

For example, if you’ve created an ecommerce landing page promoting a sale on running shoes, that offer can be further dissected by audience segment with different landing pages for women’s, men’s, or children’s shoes, type of running shoe, brand, or whatever your audience may be searching for. (Dynamic Text Replacement is specifically designed to match a landing page’s copy to a visitor’s search query, while Smart Traffic uses AI to send people to the page that’s most relevant to them based on individual attributes.)

The bottom line? The difference between a homepage and a landing page comes down to focus. And that focus is what will turn more of your traffic into sales, leads, and customers.

What is the difference between a landing page and a website?

Now that we’ve got landing pages vs homepages covered, are websites just as different? 

Unlike the laser-focused nature of landing pages, a website provides a broader canvas, catering to a wide audience’s diverse needs and interests. The fundamental differences between websites and landing pages can be summarized to the following:

Purpose: Landing pages are designed for a specific conversion goal, while websites serve as comprehensive hubs for information, interaction, and various functionalities.

Longevity: Landing pages are temporary, tied to specific campaigns, whereas websites are permanent fixtures providing an enduring online presence.

Focus: Landing pages are laser-focused, stripping away distractions, whereas websites offer a broad range of information and functionalities.

While landing pages are the tactical maestros of conversion, websites are the versatile foundations where the complete story of your brand unfolds.

What is the difference between a homepage and a website?

Now, this is where things can start to feel a little confusing. So, let’s clear up all the gossip around the difference between a homepage and a website: 

In the simplest terms, a homepage is the top-level page of a website and is usually the first page visitors will see when they arrive at a website. The homepage typically contains an overview of the website and links to the other pages.

So yes, homepages are a part of websites. It’s kind of a trick question (gotcha!)

When do I need to use a landing page? 

Now that we’ve explored the nuances between landing pages, websites and homepages, you might be wondering, “When do I need to use landing pages?” Fear not, intrepid digital explorer, because we’re about to get into exactly where and when you’d need some landing pages. 

1. Specific campaigns and promotions

You’re launching a flash sale, a limited-time offer, or a targeted promotional campaign. Landing pages are your digital commandos for such missions. They’re designed to focus alllll attention on a singular call to action, ensuring that visitors are swiftly guided toward making a purchase, signing up, or taking the desired action. When time is of the essence, a landing page streamlines the user journey, leaving no room for distraction.

2. Product launches or new offerings

Imagine you’re introducing a new product, service, or feature and want to create a lil’ buzz. Landing pages allow you to tailor the entire page to the specifics of the launch, providing a dedicated space to showcase features, benefits, and that irresistible value proposition(…hopefully.) By eliminating distractions and keeping the focus on the new offering, landing pages can maximize the impact of your launch.

3. Lead generation campaigns

You’re running a campaign to capture leads, gather information, or build your email subscriber list. But you’re not kickin’ butt if you don’t bring in landing pages. By presenting a clear and compelling value proposition with a targeted call to action, they encourage visitors to share their information willingly. The focused nature of landing pages minimizes friction, making visitors more likely to convert into valuable leads.

4. Paid advertising campaigns

You’re investing in paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads or social media. And when you’re paying for each click, you want to ensure that those clicks convert into tangible results. Why use a landing page here, you may ask? Because landing pages provide the perfect destination for your paid traffic, aligning seamlessly with the ad content and offering a customized, distraction-free experience. This ensures that your ad spend translates into meaningful actions, be it a purchase or sign-up.

5. Event or webinar registrations

If you’re hosting an event, webinar, or virtual gathering and want attendees to register, landing pages are the RSVP stations for your digital events. You can streamline the registration process by creating a dedicated page highlighting event details, attendance benefits, and a clear registration call to action. The focused environment ensures higher conversion rates as visitors express interest and commit to attending. And hey, it’s never too late for a good webinar.

6. A/B testing and optimization

Your results might be feeling stale (god forbid,) and you want to experiment with different messages, designs or calls to action to optimize your conversion rates. Landing pages allow you to isolate variables and test different elements systematically. Whether you’re tweaking headlines, adjusting imagery, or refining the call to action, landing pages provide a controlled environment for A/B testing to identify what resonates most with your audience.

Hungry to learn even more about when to use landing pages? Click here to feast.

When do I need to use a website? 

While landing pages rock (ahem, you know who we are, right?), there are still times when you’d need to use a website over a landing page for plenty of reasons. Here are the most common scenarios:

1. Immersive brand presence

So you want to establish a solid online presence and are considering offering a one-stop destination for users to explore every facet of your brand (go you!) Websites excel at presenting your complete story. From your history and mission to the full range of your products, services, and values, a website can act as the digital headquarters for your brand, accommodating a diverse audience with varied interests (and lots of options on where to go.)

2. E-commerce platforms

If you want to run an online store, showcase multiple products, and facilitate transactions, a website is your guy. In fact, it has to be. For e-commerce, a website is non-negotiable. It provides the infrastructure to display a catalog of products, manage inventory and facilitate secure transactions. Websites for e-commerce are multifunctional, offering features like shopping carts, secure payment gateways, and order tracking—all seamlessly integrated.

3. Content publishing and blogging

You want to regularly publish content, articles, or blog posts to engage your audience. Maybe you’re a little inspired by us; who knows? Websites are the editorial headquarters for content creators. They allow for creating a blog or news section where you can consistently share valuable content. A website provides the space to organize and categorize articles, improving discoverability for your audience.

4. Interactive platforms

If you’re developing an interactive platform, such as a forum, community, or social network, websites can provide that canvas as they can have many destinations and navigation options. You can facilitate user engagement, discussions, and the creation of user-generated content, fostering a sense of community around your brand.

5. Educational platforms

Are you in the business of education—offering courses, tutorials, or knowledge resources? Websites are pretty ideal for educational endeavours. They can host a range of educational content, facilitate user enrollment in courses, and provide a structured environment for learners. Plus, they offer the flexibility to integrate multimedia content, quizzes, and discussion forums. School ’em.

When do I need to use a homepage? 

As we learned earlier, homepages are a part of websites. They’re essentially the digital front door of your website, and there are a few reasons to perfect them. 

1. Create a brand introduction

Ideally, you’d want to make a positive first impression and introduce your brand to visitors with a homepage. They’re crafted to be the warm handshake, providing a snapshot of your brand’s essence. It’s the ideal space for presenting your brand’s story, values, and a comprehensive overview of what you offer. If you want to leave a lasting impression on first-time visitors, a homepage is the digital foyer you need.

2. Provide general information

Visitors may have varied interests and want to explore different facets of your brand. A homepage can be your information hub, designed for exploration. If you offer a diverse range of products, services, or information, a homepage serves as the starting point for your audience. It provides an organized navigation structure, directing users to different site sections based on their interests.

3. Have a hub for updates and announcements

If you frequently update your audience with news, announcements, or featured content, homepages can act as central notice boards. Make your homepage the go-to place for visitors to catch the latest information. It allows for dynamic content areas that keep your audience informed and engaged.

Get more conversions using landing pages

Ready to power your marketing with landing pages? Choose from over 100 high-converting landing page templates below to get started and check out these landing page best practices while you’re at it.