The right way to set up a WordPress homepage

You took lots of time and pain to go through hundreds of different WordPress themes and eventually settled with one that seems just the right fit for the website you have in mind. You go ahead and install the theme, all excited and fired up to build your online presence and make a mark in the web world!

However, what comes up on the screen after installation is disappointing, to say the least. The result looks nowhere close to what was shown in the demo version of the theme. It’s not even close to what you saw in the screenshot. Needless to say, you can feel cheated.

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But before you allow that feeling to take shape of frustration, let’s take you through behind-the-scene workings so you understand why this happened. There are a couple of reasons why the theme doesn’t appear like as shown in the demo, after installation.

  • The first reason is that you probably haven’t configured the homepage yet.
  • The second is that there is hardly any content on the website right now.

As you go about adding more and more content to your website, over a period of time, your WP site will slowly start taking the right shape. If we look back at the history of web-design, particularly with respect to the WP sites, this has always been the case.

Majority of the WordPress themes come equipped with a custom homepage option these days. Even if the theme you have purchased doesn’t have this option, it’s not difficult to create a custom homepage. In addition, creating a custom homepage for the website the right way can help you take care of the reason number one above.

In this detailed article, we’ll acquaint you with multiple options provided by WordPress to set up a homepage. The idea is to ensure that you do it the right way. The methods taught work well with WordPress 5, the latest version of the CMS launched in December last year and some of the earlier versions too.

Starting a website afresh in WordPress should ideally be an easy and quick affair. That’s the reason why all good WordPress themes come equipped with demo content. In fact, many of them even have custom homepages to make sure that you don’t end up surprised after loading the theme. After the demo content is imported and edited what you will have in front of you will be a good looking website.

Blog vs A Static Front Page

Before going ahead and looking into different WordPress homepage setting options, you must ponder and decide the kind of homepage you require in the first place. The WordPress by default shows you the most recent blog posts on the homepage. In case you require a simple magazine-style website or a blog, this should be good enough. This way your readers will be shown the most recent news items or articles whenever they visit the homepage.

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However, this won’t solve your purpose if what you have in mind is a different type of website. Talking specifically, if it’s an e-commerce or a business website you want, its homepage should consist of:

  • An introduction of your business for the visitors
  • A glimpse into your offerings, services and/or products
  • A showcase of your awards or client testimonials
  • Proper information related to how visitors can contact you

In the case of an e-commerce store, you would need to showcase all your products with the updated product reviews, as well as any promotional offers that you might be running. Either way, your first step, in this case, should be to set up a static front page as your homepage.

About setting up a static front page as homepage in WordPress

WordPress straightaway provides you with two different methods of creating content – in the form of pages and in the form of blog posts. Which one do you think you should use? Blog posts are essentially chronological entries in the blog, with each one of them having a specific publishing date. For instance, any chronological content like news related to company affairs should be published in the form of posts.

On the other hand, static web pages don’t have any chronological order. They are essentially meant to contain more evergreen and static content. Hence, any timeless content like your contact details and the ‘About’ page must be published as static front pages. For instance, in the case of a non-blog website, the homepage will normally consist of static content, and hence should be published as a static front page in WordPress.

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Now that you have understood static front pages in WordPress, let’s take you through 3 important steps in which you can set it up.

Step no. 1 – Creation of a static home page

This step involves the creation of a static WordPress page which will be later set as the website’s homepage. In order to create this page, you must log into the WordPress dashboard admin area, followed by:

  • Clicking on the ‘Pages’ and then ‘Add New’ menu
  • Add a title to the page and some content
  • Click ‘Publish’ to publish the WordPress page.

Step no. 2 – Creation of a placeholder blog page

As the WordPress page setup in step number one above will be used as your homepage, you will require a different page for displaying the blog posts. This different page will essentially be the placeholder for displaying the blog entries, and can be created the following way:

  • Start by clicking on the ‘Pages’ and then the ‘Add New’ menu.
  • Add a title to the page and set it as a ‘Blog’ for now. Don’t bother about the content at this moment.
  • Click ‘Publish’ to publish this WordPress page.

Please note that this is not a mandatory step and can be skipped if you’re not going to have any blog entries at all on your website. A WordPress site can also consist of only static pages. In the event that you do decide to have blog content on your website in the future, you can always return to this step.

Step no. 3 – Setting up the blog page and the static front page

This is the final step which involves configuration of WordPress in a way that it displays the static page you created above as the site’s homepage. We will also instruct the WordPress to display all the blog posts on the above-created placeholder blog page.

You can set the blog page and the static front page as follows:

  • Click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘Reading’ from within the admin dashboard.
  • Set the homepage to be displayed as a static page
  • Thereafter select the static page created in step number one above as the site’s homepage.
  • Then select the placeholder blog page we created in step number 2 above as the ‘Posts’ page.
  • Click on ‘Save’.

Please note, all this can also be done from the ‘Homepage Settings’ option within the Appearance >> Customizer.

You can easily make a different page as WordPress homepage in the future by following this step number 3 again.

Adding the ‘Home’ link to Menu

Usually, the navigation menu consists of the ‘Home’ link which points to the website’s homepage. But what happens in case you change the homepage? Would you be required to return to the navigation menu and make a change to the link too? Fortunately, no.

The creators of WordPress have made it very easy to add ‘Home’ link to the website. This link always points to the website’s homepage, regardless of the page you had set as ‘Homepage’ earlier. This ‘Home’ link can be added to the navigation menu through the following steps:

  • Access ‘Menus’ from within the ‘Appearance’ in the WordPress admin dashboard (Appearance >> Menus).
  • Select ‘View All’ tab in the ‘Pages’ box.
  • Make sure that the ‘Home’ checkbox is checked.
  • Click on ‘Add to Menu’
  • In the end click on ‘Save Menu’

Blog page options

The creators of WordPress give you some handy options for the blog page too. Using these options, it becomes very easy to control the appearance of blog entries.

The number of entries to be displayed on the blog page

As evident, this option helps you specify the number of blog entries you want appearing on the homepage. In the event that there are more number of entries than what is specified, they will appear on page number 2, 3 and so on. The visitors can easily check out the additional entries by using the paging links (whose appearance is decided by the WordPress theme).

The number of blog entries to be displayed on the homepage can be set using the following steps:

  • Access ‘Reading’ from within the ‘Settings’ in the WordPress admin dashboard.
  • Specify the number of blog entries you want on the homepage through the ‘Blog pages show at most’ option.

Please note, the number of entries you specify here will not include the sticky post/s.

The display mode of the blog entries

You can use this option to set the appearance of the blog post entries. You can either show the entire content of every blog entry or just a short summary of each one of them. This option can be set through the following steps:

  • Access ‘Reading’ from within the ‘Settings’ in the WordPress admin dashboard.
  • Set the required option through ‘For each article in a feed, show’

Please keep in mind that this option doesn’t work with every WordPress theme.

To conclude

It is highly likely that you will need a custom WordPress homepage if you are not running a simple WP blog. In this write-up, we went over the creation of a static WordPress page and then set it as the homepage of the site.

Thereafter we added a link of this custom homepage to the menu. This method ensures that this link always points to the site’s homepage regardless of which page has been set as the homepage.

We also learned how to set up a custom blog page for the site and specified the appearance of blog entries on it.

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