Five Elements For Your Front Page

Five Elements For Your Front Page

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.

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:

The header of A Patchwork Life, using the Hemingway Rewritten theme.

You can also create a custom header image, which you can upload in Appearance → Header, as Bethany Meyer displays boldly at Life Absorbed:

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:

The website of Richard Wiseman, on a transformed Funki theme.

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:

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 1.49.05 PM

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:

Poke around their site and you’ll see the graphic faces in their header in their author gravatars, and splashed across their Facebook page as well.

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 widget to your site, which displays information from your profile. Create a menu specifically for your social accounts, if your theme supports multiple menus:

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A top primary menu of social links on Twenty Fourteen

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A top primary menu of social links on Twenty Fourteen

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.

Posted by WordPress Guru