Ever been to someone’s house for the first time and noticed everything right from the moment you enter the door?
Usually it’s a very positive experience. From the welcome mat to the way they’ve arranged things in the foyer; from the plush sofa cushions to the beautiful coasters on which you place your coffee mugs.
And as with all first-time visits, you are also curious about how the rest of the house looks. So you get up and walk down the hallway until you open the doors to the different rooms and observe how things are organized.
A website home page is very similar to that first-time experience. It’s the welcome mat for your visitors and in today’s article, I am going to explain why you may want to consider a website redesign for your home page.
My mentor and coach, George Kao, calls this the one-page website model. In other words, even if you don’t have a full-fledged blog yet, start with a simple one page website which covers some important features.
And the best part? It’s not set in stone. You can change things as you grow and evolve.
*Fun fact: For this tutorial you don’t even have to change your theme or have a degree in WordPress 😉
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SET YOUR HOME PAGE
For the longest time, I had a single home page which also housed my blog posts. In other words, I didn’t have a static home page.
A static home page is ideal, especially for first-time visitors, since they can get an idea of who you are and what you can do to help them.
Your website’s home page is your calling card and it doesn’t have to be fancy or take you hours to put together. I did mine in less than an hour and I have no technical knowledge of WordPress.
Setting the home page is fairly simple and I’ll walk you through it below. Before anything else, though, first take a complete backup of your WordPress site so that you can restore it in case of any glitches.
This is always a good practice. I use Updraft Plus and more importantly Chemicloud, my website hosting provider, does daily backups so I am covered in case of any messing up on my part.
First, log into your WordPress admin dashboard and then click on the ‘Customize’ button on the top of your home screen.
Click on ‘Home page settings’
Choose ‘ Static Page’.
Under the ‘Posts’ page section, choose ‘Blog’. This will move all your blog posts to a menu item labelled ‘Blog’.
By the way, while you’re doing all of these changes, remember that the Home Page will look blank, especially if you’re updating it. Don’t worry about it.
EDITING YOUR HOME PAGE
This is where you have to figure out what needs to be the focus for your blog.
Thanks to Gutenberg, you don’t need a page builder like Elementor. You can use Gutenberg itself to design your page.
First, head into your home page and hit the ‘Edit page’ button on the top’ to start working on your page.
If you don’t see the edit button, go into your dashboard, choose ‘Pages’ from the left sidebar and find your home page. Click ‘edit’ and it will open up the page inside the editor.
Now, set the template to ‘Full Width’. This will remove the sidebar from your page and the content will be spread across the entire width of the computer screen. A distraction-free experience is important on the home page.
DESIGN A BANNER
Again, remember that it doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to do the job of letting people know who you are and what you do. In other words, what can a visitor expect when they land on your blog?
The banner width will depend on your theme, so check the documentation for it and create a banner with those dimensions in Canva.
Once you’ve done that, add a few elements to it:
A picture of you
Text overlay that has the title of your blog
Good stock images that represent your core focus
Once you’ve designed the image, download it to your desktop as a JPG file and then upload it to your WordPress dashboard. Do not download as PNG since that’s a very heavy file format.
Add the ‘image’ block to the top of the page and upload the image to sit right in the centre of the page.
You can add an extra image below that with a link to any features/media mentions if you choose.
The best part? With Canva Pro, you can instantly re-size this banner and use it as the header for your various social media channels as well.
I did just that with my Linkedin profile, my Facebook profile, my Facebook business page and my Twitter header. Why does this help? It is an easy way for people to associate who you are with the visual recall factor.
DECIDE ON YOUR TOP MENU ITEMS
The next thing we need to work on is our menu items. The top menu bar on your home page, which converts to a hamburger menu on the mobile, is a key piece of website real estate.
People land on your website home page; that’s the welcome mat.
The menu is where they go to learn more about you; those are all the rooms in your house.
You get to choose which rooms they get to see. Neat analogy, right? 😉
Okay, let’s begin.
Link to the following:
Your ‘About’ page
Your Newsletter (if you have one)
Your Services (if you offer them)
Your Shop (if you sell products)
A contact page
A search icon
It’s fairly easy to do all of these things. For this, you need to head into your dashboard again. This time, go to ‘Appearances’ and select ‘Menus’ in the drop down list.
Next, choose to edit the ‘Main menu’.
Add the relevant pages from the list above to the menu.
You can also add something called a ‘Custom Link’ in case you don’t have a dedicated page to the category.
Hit the ‘Save’ button at the bottom of the page when you’ve updated your menu and it should show up correctly on the top of your home page.
WRITE A SHORT WELCOME NOTE
This is something most of us take for granted, because we just assume that people will click to read our ‘about’ page.
Never assume things. Always plan for the smallest subset of your readers and visitors and make it easy for them to learn more about you.
In your introduction, give people a peek into who you are and what you do. As always keep the focus on how YOU can help THEM. In other words, the welcome note is about the guest, not about the host.
When a guest comes home, you don’t tell them about the fancy refrigerator you bought or that fabulous footstool you got from IKEA as soon as they sit down. You ask them if they’d like some tea/coffee/wine and whether they’re comfortable.
Make your visitors comfortable. Set the tone.
TELL PEOPLE HOW YOU CAN HELP THEM
This is an extension of the previous point, but now we’re getting into specifics.
Add simple button links (again, hat tip to Gutenberg for this one) and explain how they can find what will help them specifically.
In my case, as you can tell, I’ve linked to my free content: my blog and my newsletter. I’ve also linked to a paid service: my coaching calls.
ADD A SEARCH BAR TO YOUR HOME PAGE
For the longest time I didn’t have this and I had people reaching out to ask me why I didn’t have a search bar.
It’s super easy to add one though. Go into your WordPress plugins and choose ‘Add a plugin’ and find the Ivory Search plugin. Enable the settings so that it shows up on your top menu.
People land on your website through direct/organic search and will want to know more about what you do or if you have specific content that will help them out.
LINK TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
I don’t know about you, but I love to follow people I admire on social media. Their website and newsletter is a way for me to keep in touch with their work, but social media gives me a better insight into how they engage with their audience. It gives me powerful ideas to try similar things with my own audience.
Definitely add a link to your active social media channels in the footer. You can also include it in the header, but I personally find it a bit cluttered to do so.
Ensure that the channels you link to are periodically active in posting content. It’s no fun to follow someone who doesn’t post consistently.
ADD IMPORTANT LINKS TO THE FOOTER
Disclosure and privacy policies are mandatory, so don’t skip this part, especially if you’re running a self-hosted blog or a business of any sort.
BONUS ITEM 1: ADD A VIDEO
Link to a video (short or long) that encapsulates who you are and what you do. Now, this can be a video that you’ve shot of yourself or it can be an interview with someone else.
In my case, it’s an interview of mine that my coach George Kao did with me in December, 2020. The beauty of this is that it’s an effective showcase of who I am, the systems that I follow and the practices that make my business different from anyone else who may be in the same niche.
No video? Maybe you were a guest on a podcast. Embed that link instead.
BONUS ITEM 2: ADD TESTIMONIALS
If you are a coach or a service provider, this is very valuable real estate on your home page.
When potential clients land on your home page, they’d love to know what people are saying about the work that you do. Client testimonials and case studies are effective tools to tell people about the possibilities of working with you. This also improves the chances of people reaching out to you when they need to, since they have what is known as visual and quantifiable social proof to do so.
I hope this post gave you some useful tips to redesign your own home page.
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