We all know about the importance of first impressions. We learn early on that it’s important to “put your best foot forward” whenever you’re meeting someone new.
Your presence on the internet works the same way. Only instead of looking at you to make a first impression, internet users will examine the quality and layout of your homepage.
For that reason, it’s important to have your homepage looking its best at all times. Let’s dive into how to do just that using WordPress to edit your homepage.
Why does your homepage matter?
Your homepage not only acts as your first impression but also sets the tone for future interactions between you and your customers. Businesses should routinely evaluate their homepage to ensure that information is up to date and that the page’s content accurately reflects their branding and messaging.
The setup and content of your homepage is also an essential part of conversions. Sales and leads can be won or lost purely from your homepage design. It should be easy to use and navigate, leaving no questions in the user’s mind as to where to go to get the information they want or need.
As a business owner, your homepage is also a key component of achieving your business goals. With WordPress, you can edit your homepage to:
- Increase sales
- Convert more leads
- Gain more newsletter subscribers
- Focus your site more on the services you offer
Reconfiguring your homepage is also important regarding your website’s blog. Many WordPress themes have the blog set as the homepage by default. If a blog is your primary form of content, that’s fine.
But, if your blog is secondary to other aspects of your business or you’re not ready to start a blog, knowing how to edit your WordPress homepage will be an important part of your website design.
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How to edit your homepage's appearance
One of the first aspects to focus on is your homepage’s appearance. Once you log in to WordPress, you’ll have the option to choose a template, customize your WordPress theme, and structure your navigation. All of these steps involve their own nuances but are equally important to the success of your homepage.
Choosing a homepage template
From the WordPress menu (located along the left-hand side of your dashboard screen), you’ll want to navigate to Appearance > Customize. There, you’ll be able to view a number of WordPress themes and pick the one that works best for you.
The homepage may display your most recent blog posts depending on the theme you select. If you’re creating a blog, that’s fine, but if not, you’ll need to make some changes.
If you want to promote your services, create a product slider, or make a landing page, you’ll need to switch your homepage setup from “latest blog posts” to “static page.” To do this, follow these steps:
- From the WordPress Menu, scroll down to Settings > Reading
- Locate the “Your Homepage Display” section to see what’s currently showing
- If your blogs are showing, “Latest Posts” is most likely the default
- Click this option and then select “Static Page.”
Once you select Static Page, WordPress will give you two more options. You’ll need to select what page will act as your Homepage and which will act as your Posts page (where your blog entries will be). Once you choose your options for both of those, click Save Changes, and your settings will update.
Note: Your pages have to be published before you can choose them as your Homepage or Posts page.
Customizing the layout and design
To edit the layout and design of your homepage, you’ll need to navigate to the Pages tab of the WordPress menu. Once there, you’ll see a list of all the pages on your site.
Navigate to where you see the Homepage, and you’ll see two editing options below – “Edit” and “Quick Edit.” You’ll want to choose “Edit” to use WordPress’s full editing functionality.
Once on the editing page, click the blue “+” in the upper left-hand corner. Doing so will expand an extensive menu displaying all WordPress’s editing options.
WordPress users can add text, video media, photos, and more to all of their pages in a block format. Clicking on any of the buttons within this editing menu will add that particular block to your homepage (i.e., if you click the photo button, a photo block will be added to your homepage editing pane).
As you add blocks to your page, you can drag and drop them in any order you see fit.
Creating a clear and easy-to-use navigation
Steve Krug is one of the founding fathers of contemporary UX and webpage design. The title of his award-winning book, Don’t Make Me Think, comes from one of his foremost rules about webpage design. Keep this mantra in mind as you use WordPress to edit your homepage navigation and menus.
To get started, you’ll want to go to Appearance > Menus in your WordPress dashboard menu. After clicking, you’ll be able to edit any of the menus already existing on your website, or you can click Create a New Menu to make one from scratch.
You can create menus from several assets on your website, like blog posts, pages, website tags, and more. Menus can also support custom links, and you can rearrange all the menu items to fit your desired format.
WordPress also allows for submenus. These are menus that automatically nest underneath a primary menu and can make your site’s navigation more straightforward for the user.
Returning to what we said at the top of this section, “don’t make me think.” When crafting menus, remember to keep navigation as simple as possible. People who visit your site and get “lost” will eventually leave – costing you clicks, signups, conversions, and, ultimately, sales.
Resolving formatting issues
Occasionally, you may experience formatting issues when bringing content into WordPress from other platforms. This may also happen if you switch to a new theme after launching your website.
A lot of WordPress themes differ when it comes to Header formatting. If you change themes and your headings look a little odd, there’s no need to worry. There are two easy fixes for this issue:
- Edit your homepage with WordPress visual editor, highlight the text, and choose a new Heading structure from the drop-down menu. Very similar to the way Google Sheets works in G-Drive.
- You can switch to WordPress’s text editor and use shortcodes to achieve the formatting you want.
Many WordPress users also run into spacing and formatting issues when they transfer content from MS Word to their WordPress editor. You can resolve these issues with WordPress plugins for formatting or by working in WordPress’s text (code) editor.
If you choose the text editor option, here are some handy tips to make the process easier:
- Go through and manually delete any bizarre line breaks that stand out. You can find them faster by searching for the “ ” line tag in the text editor.
- Ensure any numbered or bulleted lists come over with correct formatting. Some entries may merge to the same line, so check to ensure each entry is on a new line.
- Locate all “<span>” tags and their closing tags. Remove them from the text. WordPress has no use for these tags. They appear when content is transferred over from MS Word and can jumble formatting and spacing.
Once you address all of these concerns, go back to your page’s visual editor. Ensure that everything has the correct spacing, alignment, and presentation. If everything looks good, you can save and update your page and move on to the next.
How to edit the content on your homepage
Here’s how to edit your homepage in WordPress in three different ways. You can use the platform’s native visual editor, text editor, or you can edit content using various WordPress plugins or add-ons.
The text editor shows your page’s content in the form of computer code. It helps to have more technical skills when dealing with the text editor.
But, if you know how to navigate it, it can be useful for making edits and customizations to your site. Users often use the text pane to add things like social media retargeting pixels to help with their website’s marketing.
WordPress’s other native option is the visual editor pane. This window shows your website’s content as a visitor might see it on their end. It doesn’t exactly show a live view of your page (you’ll have to hit preview for that), but it shows all of your content in plain text or media format.
Editing your homepage on WordPress with a visual editor is a lot like going through and editing a blog. You also can add images, embed videos, and add hyperlinks. These content components are also displayed in WordPress’s signature block format so you can easily move things around your page to achieve the perfect layout.
Many designers choose to edit their homepage on WordPress through plugins. One of the most popular options is WordPress’s Kadence theme.
Kadence gives WordPress sites a modern, minimal look while offering smoother editing tools. Site designers and business owners can easily swap and adjust website features through Kadence’s drag-and-drop block editor. Themes are easily adjustable and Kadence’s platform offers more intuitive functionality with WordPress’s library of native plug-ins.
Adding and editing content (text, images, videos, etc.)
If you’re working within WordPress (not a plugin), you’ll want to open the visual editor by navigating to Pages in the dashboard menu. Select the page you want to edit and click Edit.
On the visual editor screen, you’ll see a menu along the left-hand side displaying the different content types you have to choose from. You can choose from text, video, images, forms, and more. Drag these elements over to WordPress’s visual editing pane, and they will fall into your page. From there, you can rearrange them in any order necessary.
We should note that if you’re adding media like photos or videos, there is one extra step. You need to add these files to your WordPress media library before adding them to your page.
This step doesn’t take long at all. When you click to add a photo or video to your page, you’ll automatically go to your media library. If the asset you want to add isn’t there yet, click the Add Media hyperlink on the right-hand side.
There are four ways to add calls-to-action (CTAs) to your site:
- Add a button via the WordPress visual editor or a button plugin
- Use a WordPress plugin to install a pop-up
- Embed a form on your site. WordPress has its own forms widget, or you can use a plugin like WPforms.
- Adding a CTA at the bottom of your blog posts, asking readers to promote your content to friends.
Ultimately the method you choose will depend on the goal of your CTA. The method for asking readers to share blog content is much different and won’t work if you intend to gain more newsletter subscribers or sales leads.
How to set an existing page as the homepage
The instructions to set an existing page as the homepage are similar to setting a static page as your homepage. In fact, this update will take place in the same menu we mentioned earlier.
Navigate to Appearance > Customize in the dashboard menu. Click on Homepage Settings, then select the radio button for Static Page. Go to the dropdown menu under Homepage and assign the page you want as your new homepage. Hit the Save Changes button, and you’re all set.
Optimizing your homepage for search engines
The basics of optimizing for search engines revolve around using keywords in your content. You’ll need to do keyword research to determine which keywords to use on your site.
After gathering your keywords, you can use one of the many WordPress SEO plugins to see how your page is performing for optimization. Yoast SEO is a popular choice for millions of WordPress sites.
In addition to keyword usage, here are a few other things you’ll want to consider to ensure your homepage is performing well in search.
Making your homepage mobile-friendly
Throughout this article, you’ve seen mention of WordPress plugins. The plugin library is extensive and provides add-ons to your site for almost anything you can think of. This includes assessing the mobile-friendliness of your site.
You can run your homepage through one of these plugins, and you’ll receive suggestions for how to make your site more mobile friendly. But, in addition to that, some things to keep in mind are:
- Try to keep the same content on mobile and desktop
- Compress any images or graphics you use on your homepage (there are plugins for this as well)
- Don’t use flash player
- Use WordPress’s mobile viewer option to double-check how your site will display on smartphones and tablets
Fixing broken links
As Google crawls your site for SEO, it may push you down the rankings if it notices any broken links. It’s a good idea to regularly audit your content and links. This is especially true of links to external sources in blog articles.
You never know when a site may go out of business or change domains. Any links that don’t work or take site visitors to a “404” error code should be updated.
Addressing page load speed concerns
Since Google has placed an emphasis on user experience in recent years, page speed is becoming a more important ranking signal. Compressing images, choosing not to use flash, and keeping your site as simple as possible will help your page load quickly.
The average user only spends fifteen seconds on any given webpage. If your page takes 5, 7, or even 10 seconds to load, you may not even have that long. Fortunately, WordPress offers a number of tools to test your page speed and offer you insights into how to make improvements.
Fully managed WordPress hosting from Nexcess
Naturally, using WordPress to edit your homepage starts with hosting. With the right resources behind you, it may be easier to leverage all the features and functionality WordPress provides.
Nexcess offers fully managed WordPress hosting, enabling you to build a beautiful website that will “wow” your visitors. Our WordPress hosting for ecommerce, along with Nexcess Storebuilder, provides the perfect solution for anyone looking to sell online.
Larger-scale businesses can also take advantage of our enterprise hosting solutions as they grow and scale.
Contact us today to get started with everything you need for creating a WordPress site that’s unforgettable.
For more tips, tricks, and answers to your questions, check out Nexcess’ WordPress guide or our article on WordPress full site editing.
Or, check out our plans to get started with fully managed WordPress today.