This article is not about the technicalities or “how to” use WordPress to set up your homepage design. Instead, we're going to cover what should be on your homepage and why. The things I see that many do not consider — but need to.
All too often, website owners want to have everything possible displayed on the homepage. There are two things to consider with this train of thought:
- Not everyone is going to discover your site or enter it through your homepage.
- While it is your website, your homepage should focus primarily on user intent.
Why target user intent?
Intent means “resolved or determined to do something.” User intent is the goal or intention a website visitor has when landing on your site. We want to cater to that intent because that naturally leads to conversions.
The same goes when entering a search term into a search engine. What does that searcher want to accomplish? What is their intent?
That's what Google has been concentrating on for some time now, referred to as page experience. In May of 2021, Google plans on making this part of the search algorithm.
Keep in mind that user intent can be informational, transactional, or navigational. For example, are they looking for information, or do they want to purchase your products? The answer to this question will impact how you set up your homepage — and navigation.
Catering to user intent naturally leans into the page experience. You want the page to pop so that folks can easily find what they are looking for. And accomplish why they sought you out.
That entails everything from menus to headlines and graphics. All to allow your potential customer to accomplish their desires quickly.
Here's how we do that.
Your navigation is just not about menus. It includes how you layout the various widgets, content and images to navigate your website through your homepage.
The first thing you want to concentrate on is the “above the fold” area of your homepage. Above the fold is the web page real estate that visitors will see without having to scroll and where you need to make an impact that clarifies the benefit of sticking around.
Your visuals, and any content or headlines, need to let the site visitor know they've landed at the right place for what they are looking for as well as what you have to offer. You should know what that is by looking at your stats and logs to see what visitors gravitate to.
If you have a new site, put on your customer hat and think about what you would be looking for if landing on your site. In other words, prioritize what a customer would want versus what you want them to know. Many times that is two different sets of information.
Website Menu Considerations
Next come your menus. All too often folks want to have comprehensive menus with everything included within the site. Resist that urge.
Instead choose the handful of most sought out information and funnel visitors to those areas. Customers expect to see your About, Contact, Services/Products and your FAQ pages to start. Then, add only that which you know will benefit your site visitors primary intent.
For example, visitors want to know where your shop page is to see what you have to offer if you sell shoes. Link to that in your hero image that is above the fold.
Next, they may want to know about shipping, lead times, and policies that will impact their next move. Enter your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.
As far drop-down menus, a couple here or there, if intuitive, makes sense. Such as shipping, returns, policies under your Products/Shop menu link. But here again, we don't want to have an arm's length of menus that lead to submenus that lead to submenus.
Instead, think of having custom menus in your sidebar on the pages where they make the most sense or apply to the content on that page. You want to guide your visitors to the information or next step based on where they land.
You can have all those ancillary informative pages in your footer widget menus. Visitors are accustomed to looking for all that standard and customary site and company data there.
We don't want a homepage that scrolls on forever and ever. Think maybe a page and a half at most. Your homepage is a quick guide to the rest of your website. Of course prioritizing what your due diligence reflects customers are seeking out most.
Include your most viewed information. Information you know your customers ask about most. We want to focus on why that visitor landed on your homepage and what they are most likely looking for. Provide that.
Your visuals need to be on point. You want images that load fast because they are optimized and are the right size for that space and content to which they apply.
Every quality WordPress theme will advise what size images should be used for various areas. Use that exact size and orientation — do not deviate. By following those guidelines, you will contribute to the professional appearance you saw in the theme demo, which most likely is why you chose that theme in the first place.
Image sizes are one of the top offenders in slowing down website performance. In my experience, it is common to see website owners uploading images that are thousands of pixels in size larger than needed to display on the site. However, rarely should the image be larger than 1200-1800 pixels in width (and that's for the top of page and hero images only)?
Slow websites impact customer experience and your rankings. So to find out those sizes and only upload images in those exact sizes. The service I use that covers all this for me with templates and more is Canva.
Call to Action
Your CTA is where you have the opportunity to recommend (or coerce) site visitors into taking action. Subscribing, ordering, reaching out — whatever you want them to do, your CTA accomplishes this.
Having a CTA on your homepage makes sense. But, then, it is not a bad idea to have another CTA in the same spot (footer widget or sidebar) throughout your site so that visitors know where to find it when they are ready to order, subscribe, make contact.
Just as with your top of page menu, where visitors have certain expectations of what should be included, this applies to your footer widgets too. Most themes give the option of 3 or more areas to provide the info visitors expect to find at the bottom of website pages:
- Address, Contact Info, Link to Contact Form (aff)
- Links to Primary Company Pages (info, employment, affiliates, privacy, etc.)
- Social Media Icons, Mailing List Sign-Up
If your theme does not include footer widgets, that's fine. Instead, be sure to have a navigation menu that reflects the primary info pages folks will want to review before doing business with you.
This includes minimally your FAQ, Contact, Privacy and Policy pages.
While all quality WordPress web hosts offer free SSL (HTTPS vs. HTTP), I still run into many WordPress websites that are still HTTP. What does that do for user intent? It scares theme away from your website. What would you do if you land on a website homepage and see this?
The above displays and entirely blocks your homepage — or any page on your website. If you don't have SSL, move to a host that installs, maintains renewals, and offers SSL certificates at no additional charge.
Special Mention: Color Scheme
Colors are subjective. Others may not like colors that I may like. But the fact is that colors have meaning and evoke certain responses and emotions. Even if subconsciously.
Most folks I know are not all that creative. So that's where it is a benefit to create a professional color scheme to represent your brand. You then have that handful of color codes to use in everything you do. Including off-line marketing collateral. This approach also contributes to visually building your brand.
Here's an article from my friends over at Elementor (aff) about colors and what you should think about. Then think about creating your own unique color palette (aff). If you already have a logo, use those colors to start.
When working on your site, keep your color palette front and center. And, if your theme offers you the ability to set your colors in Appearance > Customize, you can integrate them there as well.
The key is to be consistent using the same handful of colors, a.k.a. your palette, in everything you do. On and off-line. On your site and social media too. This helps to build your brand to be visually recognizable at a glance.
Here are a few sites where you can check out to create your own color palette for your WordPress website:
Visually Appealing, Quick and Intuitive
First impressions can make or break you.
When it comes to your WordPress website's homepage, you want to be sure to create a stellar first impression. One that speaks to your site visitor and draws them into your little world on the web. You want to minimize that gap between intention and action.
This requires a contemporary professional presentation that loads quickly and speaks to what site visitors are seeking. It may take time and tweaks to hit the right balance, but you'll know when you do. The inquiries and orders will speak for themselves.
At your service,