The homepage is an essential part of any website and often the first page your readers see and first impressions count.
That’s why it’s important to use this real estate effectively and learn how to craft the perfect homepage design that converts.
We will look at various different homepage design ideas for your blog and look at some best practices to increase conversions and ensure your homepage serves its purpose.
The Purpose of a Homepage
Let’s start with defining the purpose of most homepages.
The main goal of your homepage is to introduce people to your content or business and provide the first step of the user journey for them to begin browsing your posts and pages.
Think of your homepage as a microcosm of your entire website and blog.
The main objectives usually include:
- Make a good first impression
- Introduce yourself and how you can help your visitor.
- Showcase your work
- List your most popular posts
- List your latest posts
- Get people to join your Email list
- Control your user’s journey
You want to try and achieve each of your goals in a succinct manner to encourage people to dig deeper into your website by clicking on your menu, links, and buttons that usher visitors to deeper pages and posts on your website.
Different Types of Blog Homepage
There are a few different types of blog homepage, by default you will usually have the homepage set to show an index of your recent articles and depending on the theme you have active, there may also be a sidebar.
Below I break down the different options, so you can decide which approach is best for you.
Traditional Blog Homepage
The traditional blog homepage is simply a linear list of blog posts in reverse chronological order, either showing the posts in full or just displaying excerpts of each post with pagination across the below to browsing deeper into the blow.
Many of the early blogs didn’t feature a menu as they didn’t include any additional pages and so navigation wasn’t required.
This is seldom the case these days and even if you do adopt this minimal and traditional journal like approach, you should definitely have a basic menu to include your blogs bedrock pages like a contact page, about page etc.
See our list of recommended pages for your blog.
Traditional homepages have a couple of issues that result from the fact it’s a singular list of posts and the content is always changing as new posts get published.
This means there’s no static content available for search engines to index to help them understand the relevance of your blog and your best content gets buried quick, the content at the top is your latest, but that’s not necessarily the best user experience for your new visitors.
The Static Homepage
The opposite of having a traditional blog homepage is having a static homepage.
This homepage style is as the name describes, a page that contains fixed static content and doesn’t change dynamically when new content is published.
The static homepage is more akin to a traditional website.
It contains static content and not much more.
While a modern blog homepage might contain several static sections it’s more likely to be a hybrid of both static and dynamic content like in our next example.
Hybrid Blog Homepage
As blogging evolved a new type of blog homepage became popular that involved fusing elements from both the traditional blog homepage and the static homepage as this ticked all boxes and was the best of both worlds.
This approach involved using a page and creating static elements and also adding your latest blogs to the front page too.
Some blogs also add other forms of dynamic content to their front pages like custom post types, products from WooCommerce or social media updates.
This means Google can index the static content and get a good sense of what the blog is about but ensures the homepage automatically stays fresh when new content is published.
Upside Down Homepage
The Upside Down homepage is simply a hybrid blog homepage with one key difference and is the type of homepage I recommend all bloggers use.
The only real difference between the Upside Down homepage from the hybrid approach is that it requires the section above the fold contains a large hero area, that looks like a fat footer only at the top instead, hence the name.
This hero area only needs to be present on the front page and other pages and blog posts can have a more minimal header.
If you look at our homepage you will see we use an Upside Down homepage.
Our hero area features a photo, a brief intro, and call to action (the email sign up form).
The purpose here is to ensure users see your most important call to action first to increase conversions.
How to Create The Perfect Upside Down Homepage
Now you know the 4 different types of homepage you can have for your blog and that the Upside Down approach is the most ideal, let’s take a look at how to craft the perfect blog homepage that converts visitors into email subscribers and customers.
This is a modified version of a formula used by Bryan Harris of VideoFruit who is a master marketer and specialist in audience building and conversion rate optimization.
Is there a singular and clear CTA above the fold?
You want to generate conversions with your website’s homepage, whether the objective is to get people to contact you, request a quote, buy a product or sign up for your email list you have to make this as clear as possible and focus on one call to action not multiple.
Craft a catchy title that engages your user and asks them if they are interested in your value offering.
In my case, I ask people if they are interested in building and growing an online business and if so they should sign up below with their email to get access to my free resources and my articles via email.
This allows me to build my email list and audience and notice I’m not distracting or confusing people by promoting any other action I want the user to take.
Minimize the number of links and options above the fold.
In your homepage hero area, you want to minimize the number of options people see.
This includes menu links and any other distractions.
On this website, while there are several items in the menu, on the homepage I have reduced this just to the most important 3.
The idea behind this is that most people coming to the homepage will be new to Mazepress, so I want to prioritize the most important places for them to start rather than overwhelming them.
If they want to be overwhelmed then they can head to the blog and will be presented with a list of different articles to choose from.
One step at a time!
People suffer from paralysis by analysis and when people are online their attention spans are at their shortest.
Cater to this human trait and simplify things for your visitors.
Put a human above the fold
People respond better when they are dealing with a human being than a faceless brand.
If you want to command trust from the offset, include a photo of yourself above the fold, ideally within your hero area.
This will make you and your blog instantly relatable and shows you aren’t hiding behind your keyboard.
This is a subtle psychological trick that just works.
If you are shy then you should really consider trying to find ways to overcome this obstacle.
I can relate, I’m not a TV presenter or anyone who wants to take selfies but I understand the importance of letting my readers know I’m a human just like them and what I look like.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Kardashian or a Warlock, I’m no Painting myself but I know the people I care about connecting with don’t give a flying f&%k about that.
You actually don’t even need to use a photo of yourself. It could be a photo of your ideal customer, but having a human on your homepage ideally above the fold definitely has an impact.
After your hero area, your homepage should feature some static content, you want to use this to create your pilot story.
This is a short summary that introduces who you are, how you can help your reader, why you are qualified and what step you want them to take next.
This should be written like a short personal essay directly to your reader empathizing with their problems and pain points and letting them know you were once in their shoes.
Now you have overcome all of the obstacles they are facing and how you can help them if they take the action are laying out before them.
You don’t need to write too much here, just a short introduction and overview, you can always lead them to your about page or start page at the end of this text if you want to continue reading or you want to usher them to the next step of the user journey.
Does your homepage include social proof?
Social proof can come in several different forms but essentially acts to frame you in a positive light from third parties.
The best example to use is adding a “featured in” section after your hero area using logos of the most established and respectable publications you or your website have been featured in.
Another form of social proof that you can use to complement the above or as a replacement involves adding 1-3 of your best testimonials somewhere on your homepage.
You should try to at least use one or the other and improve this feature over time to increase your conversion rate.
5. Are you providing an on-ramp to turn visitors into leads?
It’s important to use your homepage for your most valuable conversion, this tends to be generating leads or email list sign-ups.
For most blogs, this might just mean having a call-to-action to get visitors to sign up for your ethical bribe or email newsletter.
For businesses or individuals offering services, this might also include providing an easy way for visitors to inquire about your services like a contact form or a clear CTA taking you to a contact page.
The bottom line here is, provide an easy way for people to either get in contact or subscribe for your updates on your homepage.
6. Are 90% of your secondary links in the footer?
Instead of overwhelming your readers with a gazillion options above the fold, prioritize the most important 3-5 actions you want them to take and then eliminate all of the other distractions by moving those links into your footer.
You don’t have to have them in a horizontal list at the very bottom of your site, you can use a fat footer and create sections and columns to create a way for your visitors to navigate to all areas of your website here without confusing them when they first arrive.
This rule is especially true for low priority links like your social media links. I have had clients ask me to put them in the header and in the main navigation menu but I refuse.
You want people coming from social media to your website, not the other way around, so having them above the fold is insanity.
Once you are finished designing your homepage be ruthless when considering what you should trim away from your new homepage that isn’t helping to guide your readers towards one of your primary goals for them to complete.
Remember, giving people 10 or more options on your homepage is only going to confuse people and slow them down.
If you want your readers to take action, reduce the noize and prioritize, this both saves you time and delivers much better results.
This also goes for graphics, fancy effects, colors and anything else that might distract your readers.
One of my favorite designers and influences is Brian Gardner who runs a blog called Authentik.
Brian has a very minimalist approach to design and his Authentik blog is a great example of how to create a distraction-free homepage.
Designing a New Homepage with WordPress
These days if you are using WordPress it has never been easier to design your ideal homepage thanks to WordPress Page Builder plugins like BeaverBuilder and Elementor that allow you to set up your front page using a drag and drop user interface and intuitive tools.
Regardless of which theme you have chosen, you should still be able to use a page builder to overwrite your theme defaults and replace it with a custom designed page that merges all of the elements you want to include.
By default, most themes include a basic index of your latest blog posts and a sidebar. Most of the time I like to adopt the no sidebar philosophy and go for linear single column pages however even if I want to keep the sidebar for blog posts I would always remove it from the homepage if I was adopting a hybrid or upside down homepage style.
I recommend you use a high-quality WordPress theme framework like Genesis by Studiopress or Generatepress and follow the advice above on creating a homepage that ticks off the 5 point checklist.
Instead of just promoting your latest few posts, use your homepage to its maximum potential and generate leads, promote your best work and lead with your main value proposition too.
Work out your main objectives and then design your homepage inline your blogs main priorities.
Personally, I think the upside-down approach is the best for 90% of the blogs out there so if I had to make a blanket statement on which homepage is best for your blog I would go with that option.