WordPress is one of the quickest ways to get content onto the Internet for all to read. However, it doesn’t always have the most elegant front page appearance. It’s functional, but it may not have that visual appeal you might be looking for.
Fortunately, the aspects of WordPress have a lot to offer when developing a custom home page.
Instead of being tied to showing the most recent posts as one long page users have to scroll through, you can make the site compact and far easier to manage. The hardest part is sticking to that perfect design that engages your visitors.
In this tutorial, we’re going to show you how to set up a beautiful custom home page that is both functional and elegant. Regardless of what kind of site you’re operating, visual appeal contributes to your success.
Why is it important to have a stunning home page?
For many websites, most visitors will land on the home page first. Unless they are visiting a specific piece of content you created, it will be the home area that gets the most attention. It is here that you need to impress guests.
A stylish custom home page can do everything from show off professionalism to encourage users to interact with the site.
Think about when you walk up to a new business in your neighborhood. What is the first thing you notice when you walk into the door? Does it have an attractive layout, or is it a mess and difficult to find what you’re looking for?
The layout of your home page can be just as vital to that of a brick-and-mortar store.
Using a Theme
One of the easiest ways to introduce an appealing home screen is by selecting the right theme. Some will come with their own widgets and allow you limited control over what home looks like.
The real downside to using a theme in this way is that you may be limited by what you can do. Not all themes give you absolute control over the home page, and creating a unique look may be next to impossible.
However, it may be a quick way to give your first screen a bit more of an attractive appeal than showing the most recent posts.
Using a Page Instead of Recent Posts
By default, your WordPress home page may be set to show your most recent posts. However, it’s easy to set a specific page to launch as the main appearance of your site. Here, we are going to show you a small fraction of what you can do.
Step 1: First, we’ll start by creating a new home page. Go to “Page” from your WordPress dashboard. It will be in the left admin panel below the posts.
Step 2: Click the “Add New” button on the top left of the screen.
Step 3: Title this new page as, “Home.”
Step 4: This gives you a blank canvas to create almost any layout you wish. From here, you can add graphics, text or even shortcodes from plugins to make it more feature rich. For example, using the WP Responsive Recent Post Slider gives you a shortcode that will display your content anywhere you wish as a slider. You can find category listing plugins, galleries and more by visiting and installing the best plugins through WordPress.
NOTE: This works with almost any theme. Navigation links and the sidebar may still remain.
Step 5: Click “Publish” on the right to make the page live.
Step 6: Click “Add New” at the top left of the screen.
Step 7: Name this page, “Posts.” We need this page to allow WordPress to show posts of your content.
Step 8: Click the publish button.
Step 9: Find the settings option in the left admin panel and click it.
Step 10: Go to “Reading” settings. It should be third in the list.
Step 11: The first option in this area is labeled, “Front page displays.” Click the radio button for “A static page.”
Step 12: Using the drop down box next to “Front Page,” select the one you just created called, “Home.”
Step 13: Use the drop-down for “Posts Page” and select the one you created called, “Posts.”
Step 14: Click “Save changes” on the bottom left side.
Make sure at some point in the home screen you put a link to your posts. This will further help others find your content from the home page.
There are plugins galore that can help you fine-tune the home display of the site to be interactive and stunning. While it does take a bit more imagination, the blank screen is available for any kind of design you wish to create.
Some designers will use this display to create a landing page for the business. Depending on the marketing strategy, it can be quite effective.
Using Page Builder by SiteOrigin
The Page Builder plugin by SiteOrigin has an incredible amount of features to create an amazing home screen. One of the more engaging aspects of this plugin is that you can use widgets directly in the home page as opposed to the sidebar. Here is how you would create the home screen with this plugin.
Step 1: Install and activate the Page Builder by SiteOrigin plugin.
Step 2: You will also need to install and activate the SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle.
Step 3: Go to “Pages,” create a new file and title it, “Home.”
Step 4: Above the visual editor in WordPress, you’ll see a new tab next to “Text.” It will be called, “Page Builder.” Click this tab.
Step 5: The plugin comes with more than 20 different layouts you can choose from, or you can make your own. Click the “Layouts” button above the WordPress editor. For this example, we’re going to select “Beautifully Baked” by clicking on it once.
Step 6: Once the layout is highlighted, click the “Insert” button on the bottom right.
Step 7: If there is text or any other editing in the text editor, Page Builder will ask whether you want to insert the template before, after or replace it. For now, click on, “replace current.” When it asks if you are sure, click it again. This will place the fields for the layout automatically in the text editor.
Step 8: You are now able to edit any of the widgets that were just added from the template. You do this by hovering your mouse over any one of the widgets and then clicking the “edit” link that appears on the top right of it.
Step 9: Virtually any aspect can be changed within Page Builder. Images, colors, font sizes and links are all customizable. You can even go so far as to add a new widget of your own and place anything you currently have in WordPress.
Step 10: Once your customization is complete for your new home screen, click the publish button.
Step 11: Create a new page by clicking the “Add New” button on the top left.
Step 12: Title this new page, “Posts” and click the publish button.
Step 13: Like in the instructions above, you’re going to access the “Reading” area of your settings in WordPress and set the front and posts page accordingly.
Step 14: Click the save changes button and your website will now use the SiteOrigin home screen.
Page Builder has a great deal of functionality when it comes to creating something unique. Although the available templates are quite attractive, there is nothing wrong with spreading your creative wings.
The system will allow you to add rows, columns, video, drag-and-drop to move the widgets around and more. It also comes with a live editor so you can see your changes without saving.
These are but three ways you can create a unique and beautifully crafted home page. All it takes is a bit of imagination and the right plugins to make them stand out among others on the Internet. Don’t let the first thing visitors see of your online real estate be something drab and mundane.
What kind of plugins do you use to accentuate your website? What additions have you made to make your site look more unique?
Author: Kaumil Patel
Kaumil Patel is the Chief Operating Officer of GreenGeeks and has over 13 years of experience in the web hosting industry working for and owning web hosting companies. Kaumil’s expertise is in marketing, business development, operations, acquisitions and mergers.