The layout of your homepage is instrumental in retaining visitors. If it doesn’t look just right, you may lose out on traffic. Changing the WordPress homepage layout can be done two different ways without excessive HTML coding. One method relies on the theme’s built-in functionality while the other centers more around using shortcodes from plugins. Out of these two methods, using the customization in the theme may be much easier.
Changing Your WordPress Homepage Layout with a Theme
To change the layout of WordPress using a theme, click the “Appearance” option on the left. This will default to the Theme’s page. Hover over the theme you want to change and click the “Activate” button.
This will immediately change the overall appearance of WordPress to the new layout. This will also change the entire layout of the website, and not just the homepage.
Accessing the Appearance
From the WordPress dashboard, go to “Appearance” and then “Widgets.” Most of your changes will be done from this screen. In this control, you should see things like the right sidebar, header, footer, and other sections. These all pertain to areas of your website. If you put something into the right sidebar, then it will show on the right side of your page.
Some themes will have layout options available in the widget area. For example, the “Color Mag” theme has the ability to display featured posts or content from specific categories in a couple of different ways. You would drag the available widget into the “Front Page Top” area and adjust it to your liking. Before you begin installing plugins for shortcodes and layout changes, explore the “Customize” and “Widgets” areas of your theme. It may already have something you’d like to use for the homepage.
Using Shortcodes to Alter the Homepage
Many things can be done in WordPress by using shortcodes. These small snippets of information can be pasted virtually anywhere in the system to show specific information. While WordPress already has some shortcodes available, there are plugins you can install that will expand what you can do with the layout of your content. Go to “Plugins,” click the “Add New” button on the top left and then search for “content layout.” The available plugins are extensive and can help you develop the perfect look for the WordPress homepage layout.
There are two ways you can use shortcodes efficiently: in a widget or on a page.
In a Widget
As mentioned earlier, many themes have sections available for nearly every area on the WordPress site. What do you do if your theme doesn’t have a layout widget?
- Copy the shortcode you need from the plugin controlling your layout.
- Drag a text widget to the “Front Page” or similar section.
- Expand the text widget and paste the shortcode.
- Save the widget.
On a Static Page
Many people find it useful to set up a static page as the homepage and use shortcodes to fine-tune the appearance. In order to do this, you:
- Click on “Pages” from your dashboard.
- Click the “Add New” button on the top and create a new page called, “Homepage.”
- Go to “Settings” from the dashboard, and click on “Reading.”
- The first option available is called “Front Page Displays.” Change it to “A static page.”
- In the “Front Page” drop-down, you should see your new homepage. Select it and save your changes.
- Go back into “Pages” and click on your homepage.
- Add the shortcodes you want to display.
- Update your homepage.
You may want to go into the “Menus” area of WordPress in “Appearance” and either remove the new homepage from the menu structure or change your “Home” link to reflect the new page. Otherwise, you may have two home links that will go to different areas of your site. It will be confusing to anyone who visits.
Changing the homepage layout may seem convoluted, but it can be incredibly easy especially if you have a theme that already supports various layouts. However, handpicking plugins and using shortcodes could offer a greater level of customization for your site. Pick the method that works best for you and give your visitors a unique experience.
What kind of plugins have you used for creating a unique look to your site? Do you find it easier to just use the theme layouts or handpicking specific plugins and shortcodes?