Most bloggers display their latest posts first — reverse chronological order is the classic blog format, after all. Many WordPress.com users, however, choose to build a static front page — a homepage — that creates a website feel and brings your long-term content to the front.
A well-designed homepage has always been a staple of major websites, like The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation — a WordPress.com VIP partner. You don’t have to be a large company or non-profit organization to see the advantages of a homepage, though. Artists and other creative professionals enjoy the benefits of portfolio sites and personal pages to showcase their talents. Increasingly, so do personal bloggers across a wide variety of niches. To give you a taste of what a homepage can do for your blog, here are some sites that use this option in a smart, creative way.
Groovy Bow Sequence
Claire, the Seoul-based kindergarten teacher behind Groovy Bow Sequence, put together a sleek-looking homepage for her travel-focused personal blog.
She uses Moka to great effect. The theme offers the option of adding a splashy post slider to the homepage, enticing visitors to click on Claire’s striking landscape images and read her posts, while still maintaining the easy navigation and streamlined look of a fixed front page. While sites with a homepage often still feature a blog section, Claire has opted to forego one altogether, presenting some recent posts on the homepage itself, and letting the rest be easily accessible through the sidebar menu.
Writer-blogger Alexandra Corinth deploys a homepage — and especially her site’s primary menu — to direct readers to her various writing projects, from her young-adult books, to her multi-genre portfolio, to her personal blog.
She chose the clean, easy-to-navigate Suits, and kept most of the theme’s out-of-the-box look. The focus here is on her content, and her homepage is a distraction-free zone — visitors will only find an author’s portrait, along with a short bio tucked into a Text Widget in the sidebar. They can then quickly decide which section of the site to explore first.
Dan, the blogger behind redstuffdan, is a retired expat living in the southwest of France. His blog is mostly about his art — a mixture of photography, digital art, and painting — and he’s opted for a homepage to showcase his creations. Right beneath a short introductory text to his site, visitors quickly plunge into a colorful tiled gallery full of Dan’s art. The gallery’s composition can be modified whenever new material is uploaded — just because the page is “static” doesn’t mean it can’t be updated and refreshed.
For the rest of the content on redstuffdan, which was built using Able, the sidebar gives visitors easy access to the site’s top posts and pages, most recent posts, as well as to older content through monthly archives.
Up From The Deep
Up From The Deep is the labor of love of Mark Ellinger, a musician-turned-photographer who chronicles the gentrifying streets of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhoods. Creating a homepage allowed him to highlight the different types of writing on his site: a blog to which he uploads new photos regularly, as well as long-term project pages, like the ones on the Tenderloin and Mid-Market neighborhoods.
The homepage layout features a selection of images that whet the visitor’s appetite, and its primary menu leads not only to the site’s main content, but also to an extensive bibliography page and a Prints page, where interested readers can order copies of images from Mark’s website.
Creating a homepage
If you’d like to try out a front page that isn’t populated by your latest posts, setting one up is a breeze. Go to the Settings ? Reading tab in your dashboard, and select “a static page.” Then, choose your desired page from the “Front page” drop menu, and you’re set. If you wish to add an optional blog section to your site as well — where your posts will be displayed in reverse chronological order — specify a separate “Posts page” in the second drop menu. Note that you can also set up a homepage from the Customizer, where you’ll need to go to the “Front” panel.
Looking for more ideas for your homepage? Here are a few more examples to inspire you:
- Haley the Wonder Dog, a resource site for owners of dogs diagnosed with cancer.
- The Lovecraft eZine, a popular horror fiction ezine that puts Oxygen‘s Showcase Page template to excellent use.
- H. G. Robert, a minimalist site showcasing the work of a soon-to-be-published author.
Filed under: Better Blogging, Customization, HowTo