Static homepages are becoming more and more popular among creative entrepreneurs. In case you aren’t familiar with the term “static”, that just means that it’s an unchanging page. The information stays the same and doesn’t contain recent blog posts.
A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts with my newsletter regarding a question and discussion I’d seen (and participated in) in a Facebook group. I received such great responses from that newsletter that I thought I’d turn it into a full post.
To start us off, here’s the general idea of the question that was asked:
“What’s better, a static homepage or a homepage showing your blog posts? Everyone seems to be moving toward a static homepage, but a lot of the big guns show their blog posts instead.”
As you can probably imagine, I was pretty quick to weigh in here. However, a voice of reason popped in after the discussion had gone on for a while and brought up some great points.
I’ll start with the three reasons I think a static homepage is the way to go and then follow up with a second point of view, some common homepage mistakes, and 3 items your homepage should have.
Why you should have a static homepage
1. To explain the who and the what
First, a big idea behind having a separate homepage is to quickly explain who you are and what you do. Those visiting your website for the first time will quickly judge whether your content is useful to them. The use of a static homepage gives you the opportunity to make it clear right away.
Can you accomplish this without a homepage? Of course. You could have a concise introduction to who you are and what you do in your sidebar. You could count on your latest couple of blog posts to do the work for you. Or you could hope people make it over to your About page.
However, using a static homepage can make who you are and what you do clear more quickly.
2. Control your audience’s journey
Through the use of a homepage, you have control over where your audience members start out. If you’re drawing in potential clients, you can display a couple of portfolio pieces or if you’re building trust through free content you can show off a free course or your very best blog posts.
Having a “homepage” that simply contains your recent blog posts, will lead new visitors to that latest blog post every time.
Without a static homepage, you’re missing the opportunity to point out that you have products or services to offer or that there’s more people can learn by viewing your About page. Sure, those items can be found in your menu, but if someone new is doing a quick scan it’s much easier to skip over menu links than a nice bright call-to-action.
3. Shape the first impression
The final reason I’ll encourage you to have a static homepage is so you can shape your audience’s first impression of you, your brand, and your business.
If your blog posts are the first thing new visitors see, your most recent post will always shape that first impression. It’s easy to say that if a post isn’t good enough to be worth a first impression that it isn’t worth writing. But I’ll be totally honest with you, I wouldn’t want every post on my blog to shape someone’s first impression. That’s not to say that I’m not proud of each of my posts, but I’d rather have someone new start out with an extra epic post or a topic that’s more foundational so they can get off to a good start
With that being said, you can still make your blog posts work for your homepage. After the above three points were made in this discussion on Facebook, Sarah Eggers jumped in as the voice of reason. I’ll go over my two favorite points that she brought up (and that I totally agree with).
Not everyone blogs for business
Oh so true. It’s easy for me to forget that not everyone who runs across my blog wants to improve their website for business purposes!
If you aren’t blogging for business, displaying blog posts makes a whole lot more sense than a static homepage since your posts are what people are coming for in the first place.
However, you could still choose to have a homepage that serves the purpose of introducing yourself and leading visitors to your very favorite blog posts.
You can lead readers in other ways
Sarah’s second point was that you don’t have to have a homepage to lead your readers. She’s exactly right. Depending on the way your blog is laid out, you can still have good control of where your audience goes. Blog posts don’t necessarily have to be the only thing they see or the only items that shape their journey
A great example she gave was that you can change the text and call to action button in a header image to link to a latest podcast, recent product, or your best post.
You can also use areas like the top few items of your sidebar or your footer to guide readers to specific content.
So what should I do?
I’m going to tell you exactly what you don’t want to hear and say to do what’s best for your blog or business.
If you’re not blogging as a part of a business, I’d almost always choose to stick with your blog posts. However, if you like the overall look or simply the idea of a separate homepage, go for it!
On the other hand, if you are running a business, I’d urge you to consider a separate homepage. If the rest of your blog is optimized correctly and you have something like a Start Here page to lead your readers you can certainly make do without one, but having a homepage is a great way to ensure your readers are getting off to a good start.
If you decided that a homepage is something you’ll add to your website, there are a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
No explanation of what you do
If you’re going to have a homepage, be completely certain that it will tell new visitors what you do within a second or two. They shouldn’t have to go looking around to figure it out.
You can quickly explain what you do through:
- Offering a free course or download closely related to your products and services
- A quick written introduction
- Displaying a portfolio piece or two
No clear direction
The next common homepage mistake is not giving your readers a clear direction to take. If you don’t have a call to action, they’ll be left wondering what they’re supposed to do next.
Be sure to tell your new visitors if you’d like them to check out your blog, read your About page, or join your free email course. Doing so will reduce the chance of them clicking that little X button right away.
Too much text
The last mistake I see are those who have walls of text on their homepage. Let’s be real here, this is what About pages are for. I can safely say that I’ve never cared enough about a new blog or business I’ve run across to spend three or more minutes reading about them right off the bat. I want to know if they can benefit me, if I like what they offer, and if I like the person before I’m going to spend that much extra time reading.
So my advice here? Keep it simple. A brief intro is good enough and you can always link to your About page if you want to encourage visitors to learn more right away.
What to include on your homepage
Now that you know a homepage can benefit your business and you know what mistakes to avoid, let’s go over four items you should have on your homepage. But remember, even though we’re talking about four separate things, you want to keep it simple. The goal is to get your new visitors involved and excited as quickly as possible.
1. What + who
The first thing your homepage should accomplish is explaining what you do and who you help. Remember, this doesn’t have to be with text. It can be with a free offering related to your products and services, some portfolio pieces, or some good branded photography.
I really like how Sarah, of XO Sarah, accomplishes this. The top of her homepage does an amazing job of explaining how she helps her audience.
2. Call to action
Next, include a clear call to action. Do you want readers visiting your blog, reading more about you, following your social media accounts?
Refer back to your goals and make sure at least one is supported through a call to action on your homepage.
Maru, of Fashiony Fab, does a great job of this on her homepage when encouraging visitors to view her portfolio!
3. Eye-catching images
I think we can all agree that we tend to spend more time on websites that we find visually appealing. We feel more connected and attracted to these sites.
That’s exactly why images that match the look and feel of your brand as well as relate to what you do are perfect for your homepage.
I love the image Sarah Eggers has at the top of her homepage. It catches my eye and the text explains exactly what she does!
4. Email Opt-In Opportunity
And last, but certainly not least, give new visitors the opportunity to opt-in. If the rest of your homepage correctly illustrates what you do and helps new visitors relate to you, it’s possible that they’d be ready to opt-in right away.
To increase the chances of this, be sure to give them something in exchange. Consider a free email course, workbook, or printable in exchange for their email address.
Holly, of A Branch of Holly, grabs new readers on her homepage by offering up her Blogging Breakthrough eBook!
What do you think, is a homepage for you?
After reading this post, what are your thoughts on homepages? If you don’t currently have one do you think adding one will help your business?