When you meet someone new, a good first impression is important. Visiting a website is no different. Most people have a short attention span when it comes to the Internet, so having a good landing page — the “home” page, or the first page someone views when they visit your site — is essential for attracting visitors to your corner of the Internet.
One of the little-known features in WordPress is the ability to create a custom landing page. By default, most WordPress themes don’t have a custom landing page installed, so they show a list of your most recent blog posts as your home page. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.
The exact location to change this depends on your theme, but for most themes, go to Appearance → Customize → Static Front Page to change your site’s behavior. It will ask you whether you want to show a list of latest posts or a static page as your home page. Here you can choose a static page and set the landing page to any page you choose.
Before you do this, you’ll want to create the page you’ll use as your home page. So what makes a great landing page?
1. Explain who you are and what you do.
When someone visits your site, prepare to immediately answer their biggest questions. Why does your site exist? What can you do for people? And most importantly, why should someone continue browsing your site?
Studies have shown different results for how long the average user spends browsing a particular website, but it’s definitely not long. Consider your own browsing habits. When you’re surfing the Web, how long does a particular site you discover have to grab your attention before you move on? 10 seconds? 30 seconds? Whatever the case may be, it probably isn’t long, and you’re probably not the only one who behaves that way.
With that in mind, you have to cut to the chase pretty quickly. That’s why the first sentence of text on our site reads, “MPWR Design empowers you to create the website you’ve always wanted.” Immediately, we explain who we are and why we exist. If someone continues browsing, we get to the details later on, but we explain our big-picture purpose right out of the gate. You can add details about your site’s purpose on another page like an About Us page, but it’s a good idea to provide a big-picture explanation of your site’s purpose on the home page.
2. Grab users’ attention visually.
Good information is great, but the best websites get people’s attention visually. As an example, check out the “site of the day” winners from Awards. These change daily, but regardless of when you look, there’s a very good chance that most all of the sites shown will be very image-heavy.
This means several things for your site. First, you might want to consider investing in professional photography. If you’re selling a product, don’t just shoot pictures on your phone to use; have a professional do it right. If your site centers more around you as a person, it’s probably a good idea to have a photo shoot done so you can present yourself professionally.
If professional photography isn’t the route you want to take, you have other options to consider as well. Look for stock photography that compliments your site. Many high-res stock photos are available for only a few dollars each, and some sites like Pexels even offer stock photography for free. You can also try out an app like Adobe Post or Canva to create images yourself. If you choose to do this, though, have several other design-savvy people take an honest look at your creations to be sure they’re professional enough to get the job done.
3. Make it easy for a user to figure out what to do next.
Normally, websites are viewed in terms of a “site map.” It’s almost like a tree; “Home” is listed at the top and numerous other pages — About, Subscribe, Contact, etc. — branch out from under it. Some websites are so filled with options and possibilities that users can get lost in the process. Instead of thinking of your site this way, think of it more like a series of progressive steps. Thinking in terms of a series of steps simplifies the process. Once someone visits your site, what should that person do next?
You’ll notice on our site, there’s a button with “Get Started” in the middle of the page. This takes a user to the services page. There, a button at the bottom allows the user to contact us. The thought is that a user first learns a little bit about who we are on the home page, finds out important details about what we offer on the services page, and then contacts us to get started on a site. We also have information about products we’ve created and WordPress tips like this one available on our site, but we use colorful “call to action” buttons to suggest to users what’s next. We mention our products and tips on the Services page, but we also try to keep the process simple for potential clients. Although we have several options available in our navigation bar at the top of the page, our process is prominent on our home page.