What is a homepage exactly? We’ve all seen one, and every site has one, but what exactly is it? How is it defined?
When the internet was first developed – and yes, I am old enough to remember this! – a lot of the terms that were created were based on the existing, material world. This is why the term “email” is related to the physical act of delivering postal material and the term “pages” is related to sheets of paper in a book.
Today, a home page (sometimes written “homepage”) refers to the main or principal area of a given website. More precisely, the home page is usually associated with the top-level domain of a website or its best-known URL. It often serves as the starting point for navigating the website. Any other URLs belonging to the same top-level domain are just known as “pages.”
For example, WordPress’s “home page” is located at www.WordPress.org while all the other URLs that end in “…WordPress.org” are known as pages. The term “home page” is a specific reference to the first page that visitors see when they arrive at a website’s top-level domain address. It sits above all other pages in the site hierarchy.
While a site may have many landing pages, it can only have one home page.
Types Of Homepage
When WordPress is first installed, the default setting will show a list of your most recent posts in reverse chronological order (i.e.the newest one first). If you are not a fan of the default appearance, you can opt to display a static page as your homepage instead. Another option is to do something more creative depending on the theme you are using.
Here are a few examples of common types of homepage:
- Blog or News Site: For a blog or news site, the homepage might display a list of the most recent posts or articles, sometimes in chronological order. An example would be the New York Times’ or ‘BBC’ websites, where the most important and recent news stories are displayed prominently on the homepage.
- E-commerce Site: For an e-commerce site like Amazon, the homepage might display featured products, deals of the day, and personalized product recommendations.
- Corporate or Business Site: For a corporate or business site, the homepage might introduce the company, showcase its products or services, and guide visitors to learn more about different aspects of the company.
- Portfolio Site: For a portfolio site, the homepage might showcase the best work of the individual or agency, with links to view more detailed portfolio pieces or case studies.
- Non-profit or Educational Site: For non-profit or educational sites, the homepage might focus on the organization’s mission, current projects, and how visitors can get involved or access resources.
Modifying A Homepage
Without having to get into the foundational PHP code of WordPress, the easiest way to modify the layout of your home page is by choosing the right theme. The theme’s settings will allow you to customize what visitors see when they arrive at your home page.
Alternatively, you can log into your administration area and click “Settings” in the left-hand column and then “Reading.” A section entitled “Your homepage displays” will let you choose whether to show your latest posts (the default setting) or a static (unchanging) page.
Note: To choose a static page to display as your homepage, it first must be created and published!
Here are some best practices for designing a good homepage:
- Clear Navigation: Your homepage should offer clear navigation to the most important sections or pages on your site. This often involves a navigation bar with links to different sections or pages.
- Strong Headline: Include a compelling headline that communicates what your site or business is all about. This is often the first thing visitors see, so make it count.
- Clean Design: Keep the design of your homepage clean and uncluttered. Make good use of whitespace, and don’t overload visitors with too much information.
- Call to Action: If there’s a specific action you want visitors to take, like signing up for a newsletter or browsing your products, make this clear with a prominent call to action.
- Responsive Design: Ensure your homepage looks and works well on all devices, from desktop computers to smartphones. This often involves using a responsive design approach.
- Fast Loading: Website speed is crucial for user experience and SEO. Optimize your homepage to load quickly, which might involve minimizing the size of images, using efficient code, and leveraging caching and content delivery networks (CDNs).
- Update Regularly: Keep your homepage fresh and up-to-date. Regularly update any featured content, news, or product information.
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