How to Design and Set a WordPress Homepage
Your WordPress homepage is like your website’s welcome mat. However, if it doesn’t make a great first impression, visitors may decide they’d rather be somewhere else.
Fortunately, WordPress gives you complete control over your homepage. There are many ways to customize this crucial page to ensure it effectively sets the tone for your website.
In this post, we’ll discuss the WordPress homepage and its vital role in a successful website. We’ll then share three different ways to design a five-star homepage. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to the WordPress Homepage (And Why You May Want to Change Yours)
It’s almost impossible to overestimate the importance of your homepage. Usually, it’s the first thing visitors will see when they type in your URL.
If your homepage doesn’t make a great first impression, visitors are unlikely to give you a second chance. This abandonment can be disastrous for your conversion rates. It can also impact key metrics that determine your search engine rankings, including dwell time.
An effective homepage will immediately convince visitors that they’re in the right place. This means clearly communicating what your WordPress website is all about, and the value it has to offer.
By default, many WordPress themes display a list of your latest blog posts on the homepage. If you’re running a blog or magazine website, this may be precisely what you’re looking for. In particular, this format helps readers find your most recent content:
However, this layout won’t be appropriate for all WordPress websites. For example, eCommerce stores may prefer to display their most popular products rather than their latest blog posts:
If you’re running a business site, you may want to use your homepage to introduce your company and promote your services. You might even change your homepage throughout the year, such as creating a special page to advertise your upcoming Black Friday sale.
Regardless of your motivations, WordPress has everything you need to create a homepage that works for you. This often means replacing the default option with static content.
How to Set a Static Homepage in WordPress
If you don’t want to display your most recent blog posts, you can switch to a static front page. You can then show all of your blog posts on a separate page, which we’ll create toward the end of this article.
Pages don’t appear in chronological order and are designed to display evergreen content. These characteristics make them ideal for your static homepage.
If you want to create a new page, navigate to Pages > Add New in the WordPress dashboard. You can now give this page a descriptive name, such as “Homepage”, and click on Publish.
The next step is telling WordPress to use this as your homepage. However, since we haven’t added any content to this page, you may want to consider putting your site into maintenance mode first.
Maintenance mode will ensure that visitors don’t encounter a blank screen or an error message if they attempt to access your website while you’re making changes. When you’re happy with your updates, you can take your site out of maintenance mode and wow visitors with your new design.
You can set up this mode using a plugin such as WP Maintenance Mode. This tool also has some added extras, including a countdown to create a buzz around your site’s relaunch:
To switch to a static homepage, navigate to Settings > Reading. In the Your homepage displays section, select A static page:
You can now use the dropdown menu to select the page we created in the previous step. Then, click on Save Changes. If you visit your homepage, WordPress should now display a blank design rather than your original blog page.
How to Design a Beautiful WordPress Homepage (3 Methods)
Now you have a static homepage, you’ll want to ensure it makes the best possible first impression. With that in mind, here are three ways to design a professional-looking custom homepage!
1. Use the WordPress Theme Customizer
Your WordPress theme likely provides a basic homepage design. You can often make simple edits to this default layout in the WordPress Customizer.
In your dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Customize. This tool provides a live preview so that you can see exactly how your changes will appear to visitors in real-time:
The changes that you can make will vary depending on your WordPress theme. For example, some themes enable you to change the sidebar’s position or remove it entirely to create a full-width layout.
It’s worth taking the time to explore the various homepage settings to see what options are available for your theme. Alternatively, you can click on any area that features a blue pencil icon. This will open the settings for that onscreen element:
Your homepage may contain sections that you’d rather not use. In this scenario, you can remove an element by locating it in the side menu and clicking on its accompanying three-dotted icon, followed by Remove block.
2. Edit Your WordPress Homepage With the Block Editor
While the WordPress Customizer is great for making simple changes, sometimes you may need to dig deeper. When customizing your homepage, the Block Editor gives you more options.
To get started, open your static homepage in the WordPress post editor. You can now design your homepage using the same techniques for creating any page.
The WordPress Block Editor has many blocks, including cover images, galleries, text and media, and tables. You can organize these elements to create your desired homepage structure.
If you’re looking for design inspiration, it may help to browse the available blocks. To view WordPress’ entire library, click on the black + icon:
In the subsequent popup, select Browse all. This launches a panel where you can explore the various blocks:
When you find a block that you want to use on your homepage, simply give it a click. Depending on your selection, you may be able to add some content to that element, such as text or an image.
Most blocks also have unique configuration settings. To view these settings, click to select the block. This action should open a Post/Block panel:
Make sure that the Block menu is selected. You can then explore the unique settings that are available for this particular block.
At this point, you can continue adding elements until you’re happy with your homepage layout. With a full library of blocks at your disposal, you should have no problems creating a beautiful and engaging homepage. However, if required, you can always add more blocks to the WordPress library using a plugin such as Gutenberg Blocks.
3. Use a Page Builder Plugin
Out-of-the-box, WordPress provides everything you need to create a professional-looking homepage. However, there are also advanced page builder plugins that you can add to your WordPress installation.
Most of these WordPress plugins provide intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces, along with ready-made elements. These features enable you to build an attractive and engaging homepage, potentially within minutes.
There are various page builder plugins available. For example, Elementor is an easy-to-use page builder with features to help you design a stand-out homepage. These include motion and scrolling effects, forms, and flip boxes:
These templates can provide a strong foundation for your homepage. This makes Beaver Builder a great choice if you have limited web design and development experience. It may also be a good fit if you need to spin up a homepage in a hurry.
How to Create a WordPress Blog Posts Page
At this point, you’ve replaced the blog posts page with a static webpage. This means that your site doesn’t currently feature a list of your most recent posts. If you want to display this content, you’ll need to create a separate page.
To get started, navigate to Pages > Add New. You can now give this page a title, such as “Blog”, and click on Publish.
Next, navigate to Settings > Reading. You can now open the Posts page dropdown and select the page that you just created:
While you’re here, you may want to make some changes to how your posts are displayed. There are a few different settings available.
First, you can choose how many posts appear on each page. If you display many posts, visitors may have to scroll a considerable distance to reach the bottom of this page. This layout may also increase the page loading times, particularly if your content has large, high-resolution featured images.
However, if you display a small number of posts, then visitors may need to click through multiple pages to find the desired content. This means that finding the perfect number of posts can be a tricky balancing act.
Once you’ve settled on a number, type it into the Blog pages show at most field. Just be aware that any posts that you mark as ‘sticky’ will be displayed as well:
You can also control how your blog content appears on the posts page using the following setting: For each post in a feed, include. Here, you can choose to display the entire piece or just its excerpt:
If your blogs are on the shorter side, it may make sense to display the entire article. However, you may want to consider showing excerpts for lengthier posts.
The old saying goes: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With this in mind, your homepage should make visitors want to stick around and learn more about your site.
Let’s quickly recap three ways that you can fine-tune your WordPress homepage:
- Use the WordPress theme customizer.
- Edit your WordPress homepage with the Block Editor.
- Use a page builder plugin, such as Beaver Builder or the Elementor plugin.
Getting your homepage design spot-on is only half the battle. If that page is slow to load, visitors may still decide they’d rather spend their time elsewhere. By partnering with a WordPress hosting provider such as WP Engine, you can be confident that your entire website is running at peak performance – including that all-important homepage.