What I Think About When Creating A Homepage
If you haven’t noticed we have a new look around these parts. I’m going to talk about why I decided to update the blog later but today I want to talk about creating a homepage. Before I start I want to say that most bloggers don’t need a static homepage. I usually discourage it for bloggers who don’t have products or services because I think your posts should be on the first page as that’s your main focus. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers with homepages that look nice but don’t serve a purpose which is annoying to readers.
There are a lot of blog posts about what to put on your homepage and I’m probably doing it all wrong by those standards. I have a huge slider with no call to action on it and I’m not overly pushy but I think that’s ok. The site went live yesterday and guess what… I got the most new email signups in a day ever. That has a lot to do with the new membership area but the homepage converted a lot of people too.
Instead of writing a blog post that lists the elements of a good homepage I wanted to talk about my thought process specifically. Hopefully this gives you some ideas when it’s time for you to create your own homepage. It isn’t always about looking at rules and following them. Sometimes you have to use only what applies to your situation.
Here’s what I think about any time I have to create a homepage.
When I sat down to think about the new Brown Girl Bloggers homepage I wrote down my homepage goals. These aren’t all the goals for this community but they’re what I want visitors to think about either consciously or subconsciously when viewing the page. The great thing about webpages is that you can change them as needed. Right now my goals are to:
Foster a sense of community with minority women.
Inspire brown women to blog and blog well.
Showcase the new membership feature that’s coming soon.
Promote our services softly.
I also knew that the homepage had to be visually appealing to anyone who happens upon it. I’m catering to minority women and since we’re underserved I have a little more time to capture a new visitor’s attention. That’s why I decided not to put buttons on my slider right now. I might do that in the future but it isn’t necessary at the moment.
I was also very conscious of the fact that we’re selling stuff. I have to promote our services but I don’t want to be in your face with it. That just isn’t me which means it isn’t Brown Girl Bloggers either. I wanted the homepage to reflect that so visitors know that we won’t be that way in our posts or even social media. I’ll mention it and if you’re interested you’ll buy and if not you’ll probably support in other ways.
You should think about your goals. Write down why you blog and what you hope people get out of your blog. This will probably make creating a homepage easier because it can seem like a daunting task at first.
When I think about a new person visiting the blog I think about why they might have stumbled upon my homepage. Since this is a very established site I use tools like Google Analytics and Jetpack to tell me what people are searching for. I know that new visitors end up on the homepage most often after searching for sites that cater to black or brown women. Common sense tells me this but it’s nice to have those numbers and know the specific terms used to find us. That’s why I decided to put a big slider on the homepage clearly featuring women of color. I want new visitors to immediately know that our name is the real deal. I also want them to know that we focus mostly on community, inspiration, and teaching bloggers things they should know.
If you’re a new blogger you should think about that. Why do you think people will visit your blog? If you already have a blog you can check out your analytics to see how people find your homepage. Do they search for certain terms, find it through social media, type it in right away?
The second thing I thought about was women who are referred to this site either from a friend or social media. If you’ve already heard good things about us or followed us on social media you’re probably coming to the site with a positive idea in mind. I wanted to make sure I drove that idea home with a visually pleasing homepage as well as give visitors an overview of the things we offer like affordable WordPress blog design, stock photography, the newsletter, and the membership area. It’s unusual to convert a first time visitor but I want to give them a reason to check out the rest of the site and stick around.
As you can see all of these things further my goals. I’m showcasing a strong sense of community and membership, advertising the services we offer, encouraging visitors to read our blog so that they are inspired and hopefully learn something.
Make sure your homepage is furthering the goals you have for your blog.
Returning visitors don’t really go to the homepage very often and when they do it’s because they typed the URL in directly and plan to go to the blog or another page. Returning visitors are generally clicking a specific blog post or going to a page that requires action like the contact page. My main concern was those of you who already read this blog and are going to look at the new homepage just to see what’s up. This is especially true for those of you who may be interested in our design services since I want y’all to see a great representation of my work. I also want to make sure returning visitors who scroll through the homepage are current with what we offering and how they can participate in the community. You’ll notice that I have links for visitors to submit photography and/or posts to the blog. That ties in to my goal of fostering community.
We work with brands behind the scenes so when they visit the homepage I want them to know we mean business even if this site isn’t for them. I also want brands to really understand that the bloggers of this community engage and that we do a lot to keep our audience present.
I also use this blog in my personal portfolio when working with brands who want me to build or maintain their websites.
I always think about the feeling I want people have. The old homepage felt boring and a little corporate to me. I wanted something bright, fresh, and positive. This isn’t the place for negativity. Yes, we all have our bad days and we’ll even talk about it sometimes but this isn’t the place to dwell on it. Your thoughts matter and when you come to this blog I only want you to think good things. That’s also why I chose pictures of happy looking women and why I decided to use bright and bold colors. Again, this makes visitors more excited to join and engage with the community.
Your homepage should tell us who you are, why we should care, and what you want us to do. If you want visitors to go to a certain page or buy a product display that. If you want email signups encourage it from the homepage. The thing to keep in mind is that everyone’s homepage will be different. An e-commerce store’s homepage will be very different from this blog’s homepage and this blog’s homepage will be different from a style blogger’s homepage. With that being said I do feel there are a few elements you should have.
Beautiful high quality photo(s) // A short blurb describing your blog, products, or services // A call to action // Social media links (ours are in the menu which is fine) // Blog posts // Email list opt-in
Other than that I think you have to decide for yourself or with a designer what elements go on your homepage. There are so many things one person might need that you don’t. It’s important to get clear on your blogging goals before you start.
I know I should give you a definitive guide that says this is what you MUST do but that isn’t always the case with creating content online. Sometimes you’ve gotta do something a little different.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any homepage rules?
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