Your site’s front page is like the front door to your home: you want it to look and feel inviting, as well as unmistakably you. Here’s a quick list of five things — big and small — to consider when building your front page.
Five Elements For Your Front Page
Whether you’re building a website or online portfolio, or a blog with your latest posts displayed front and center, you want your site’s front page to look great, but also provide information your readers want and need. Here are five elements, from beginner’s tweaks to bigger ideas, to consider as you create your online home:
1. Your blog name, loud and clear
You want your visitors to know exactly what your site is about the moment they land on your homepage. One of your first tasks when creating your blog is to set your site title and tagline. Note that site titles display differently across our 250+ themes.
We love the way recently launched Hemingway Rewritten displays a blog name and tagline in a sleek parallax-scrolling header:
2. A hook that’s uniquely you
Our blogs, websites, and portfolios are akin to digital homesteads. And like physical houses, we make our sites just so: our backgrounds are like painted walls, our sidebars like bookcases. How can you draw in a new visitor at your doorstep?
Think of a journalist’s story lede. Or a cinematographer’s first frame. What’s your hook? Sure, you’ve got an About page or a blurb in your sidebar. How else can you attract a new reader?
Author Richard Wiseman fills his homepage with his “30 Second Introduction”: a slideshow summarizing his work and accomplishments in succinct, easy-to-read slides. Adding movement to the page, the slideshow is a simple, visual way to tell his story:
From an illustrated bio to a web comic about your life to a video introduction, how else can you tell the web what you’re all about?
3. A concise and visible menu
So, a new reader lands on your homepage, but can’t figure out where anything is. You might have the most awesome header image, or About page, or professionally made logo, but none of that matters if a visitor can’t navigate their way around your site.
Artist Pam Carriker uses a simple, straightforward static front page, transforming the Elemin theme into a one-stop destination for her blog, products, press, tutorials, and projects. We appreciate the clear, concise tabs in her primary menu:
Remember, though, that your menu doesn’t have to reflect your site’s page structure — you can create a custom menu that mixes some of your pages and categories, plus external links. We encourage you to think beyond the usual tabs (Bio, Blog, Contact): Get creative. Use your voice. Link to the passions and interests that shape you, like in this header by Miss Zoe:
4. A cohesive look and unified design
You don’t need to be a pro to create a site with unifying design elements. But you need to think critically about its look and feel — to stand back to see if the pieces make sense and come together to make a whole.
Consider the header image at the collaborative blog, LeaderGeeks:
The elements that tie your site together don’t need to be expert-made illustrations or logos — a unifying detail could be a simple yet bold font used in your header and sidebar, or one accent color. We like how Design By Lulu uses strategic splashes of powder sea blue in her header, widgets, and occasional graphics in her posts:
If you’re feeling artsy, make custom image widgets down your sidebar to build a cohesive design, using free online editors like PicMonkey. For inspiration, visit Debbie Does Doodles, the whimsical space of Edinburgh-based blogger Debbie. Her category widgets create a pleasing, consistent pattern.
5. Ways for readers to connect with you
Finally, give your visitors various options to connect with you. You can include your email address in an About Me blurb in your sidebar. Publish a “Get in Touch” page with a contact form. Add the About.me widget to your site, which displays information from your About.me profile. Create a menu specifically for your social accounts, if your theme supports multiple menus:
Or, as many bloggers do, create and upload social media buttons so readers can follow you across the web. We love how many of you use these buttons to further unify your site’s design — and it often doesn’t take much more than adding pops of a complementary color, as seen on Scrawny Girl:
If you’re building your website’s homepage, or simply looking for ways to spruce up your blog’s front page, we hope these tips get you started.
This is a fantastic post Cheri! I have probably changed my theme half a dozen times in the past two years… trying to find a look and feel that was an extension of me. With the Suits theme, I’ve finally done that.
I love the simple, clean and organized layout for my street photography posts, and the single sidebar is the perfect amount of space to house my social media buttons and top posts.
I’ve always tried to look at themes that allow custom headers, are responsive, and have a pleasing photo layout, and then I work from that.
Great post! Will definitely keep your suggestions in mind as I try to improve my new blog. It’s been only 2 weeks since I’ve started my blog but I am learning so much thus far.
Nice outline of the necessities with some cool points/suggestions.
Thanks for the tips! As a newbie to the blogging world these are very helpful!
Fortunately I’ve all these on my front page :)
thanks for your tricks, i will get new header for pertamax7, still waiting on idea :D
Our website is not ‘blog-centric’, so I’m interested in how to draw attention to the blog posts but not at the expense of missing the rest of our information/links.
Thanks, Cheri. How to have the categories appear as menu bar?
Fengshui for bloggers now! I love it Cheri! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for the tips! As a new blogger, I am always seeking out way to enrich my blog.
Hi, Cheri. Thanks for the tips. My initial intent was to build a website for my business. But this “Blogging Thing” becomes more interesting each post I get WebPost.com News. Now I am not sure which to pursue. Seems like I need to do both….LOL. Thanks again for the insight(s).
Great tips, although when it comes to front pages there are no standards, and from my opinion front pages should be dynamic, some don’t require a name, some require only images. There are no rules for front pages, except from only one, every front page should be unique to the websites content. Well this is my personal opinion, so feel free to disagree :).
Neat article and I like the examples (images) you used. I’m not new to blogging, but I am new to WordPress (since the end of March) and to blog in my second language English. A helpful article is always welcome. Thanks!
That slideshow idea is brilliant! I’ll definitely consider that for my own site.
I love reading these tips, not only does it inspire me to become a better blogger and make continual improvements to my blog, but I learn something new every day! Thanks.
This post is great for such a time as this; I only recently started blogging, so this is very helpful. Thnx
Awesome information! I see that I need to make some changes/updates to my blog…Thanks for the tips
Very nice examples of front pages! Coincidentally, I was also working in my front page for the last weeks, I believe I still have much to do to improve it, but I’m always trying to create new ways of showing my portfolio to others. I also learned recently that we can make fantastic changes to our blog with the custom design upgrade, so I’m totally satisfied with ‘WordPress.com’ :)
In the past, I had a Joomla self-hosted website. When I migrated to WordPress.com, I did see many barriers to my freedom of showcasing my art.. in fact I almost gave up many times.. fortunately I never gave up and now I can say I’m really proud to choose and trust in ‘WP.com’ ;)
I tried tons of themes and was never satisfied with any of them, until recently I discovered a clean theme (Sundance) which can be easily adjusted to my ideal layout.
No matter the challenge, we can make a really nice front page if we work hard enough for it, and I will try to always keep improving my skills for that purpose. I wish good luck for everyone trying to improve their front page, as I’m trying to do with mine as well. Thanks very much for this article and the examples! <3
Good stuff. I’ve been meaning to figure out how to do personalized social media buttons for awhile and this has given me the motivation. Thanks!
Boy, do I wish you could just recreate my blog’s front page. Even thought I am a quite visual and organized person I get overwhelmed by all this info. It shows I am not much of a techie, I suppose…so will have to just spend an afternoon fooling around until I get it looking great! Thanks for the help, though, as always. (Where is your tiny houses blog? I think I lost it.)
Cheri, thanks for the encouragement; I will just have to bite the bullet and make myself do it! I continue to get many followers daily–likely due to being Fresh Pressed. That’s when it started to gain.Thanks! (And lo and behold, I am still connected to your fascinating Tiny Houses blog. I guess you just haven’t written a post lately. But it’s all good–I can wait for more fun!)
Great info! This is helpful as I’m trying to build my page.
Great post Cheri, your tips are clear, simple and helpful.
Definitely some helpful tips given by you Cheri. The most important one of them being, the blog must look complete as a whole. While contrast may be good at times, but the pieces should look like one belonging to the same puzzle. Nice read…thanks for sharing!
Nice post, though I dare to remark that you use examples of blogs that are not very ‘active’, all the while (in many other posts) stressing the fact that the most important thing for successful blogging is … well … frequent blogging.
Your front page might look as sweet as candy. If there’s no content, no one cares.
How do I add the Copyscape banner on my front page? Thanks!
Very timely thanks! This gives me something to work on. I’m just starting out and the behind the scenes technical stuff can be difficult for me. I’m learning lots though!
I just started out and so far I think clean and simple is the best way to go. Is the background image and header under the customize package that you have to pay the $99 for?
The basic info is here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/april-challenge-signups/. You’ll be getting an email this week with more details and instructions, and the course begins next week on Tuesday, 4/15.
Wow this was so incredibly helpful!! I am about to start a freelancing photography business and I am trying to figure out how to present myself correctly.
Hi, how do you add the contact form to your website? I am having problems getting it to show up properly.
I like changing my header image, from photographs I took myself. I change with the seasons. Cheri, is there a way we can get a “critique” of our layout? Suggestions for improvement?
When I visit a blog, I would like to see a list of recently commented posts , with the date&time of the last comment on each post and the comment count (= Recently Commented Posts Widget). This would save me time – then I don’t need to open each post just to check whether it has been discussed or not after my last visit. The comment account would help me to estimate how much time I need to read the comments.
The Recent Comments Widget doesn’t give enough information. If visitors write a lot of comments on one post, the comments on other posts will quickly disappear from the Widget.
Very informative and cool :-)
Hi Cheri – Thx for your tips. I am still thinking about some topics you’ve said – so let’s see how I will use it on my new blog.
Hi Cheri, Thank you for these tips. Though I’ve being blogging for a while, I decided to step it up just today and I happened on your blog! And I have just started building and managing other people’s blogs, so this helps BIG TIME! Thank you!
Thank you for the tips. it will help me in the future as my blog grows.
Great tips, thank you, Cheri! I even like the way you designed your post — using all of your own tips to make it swing. :)
This current site of mine (The Book Wrangler) is brand new so this post is bookmarked – design is key for me and I refuse to post at all until I am 110% happy with it