Your homepage: your blogs showcase

When you get to a blog you’ve never visited before, through a search, a listing on a social network site or a link on another blog, what kind of page do you land up on? Usually, it’ll be an article page. You’ll read the article, and decide, based on that article and the other info and look & feel offered to you on that page, whether you’ll go on through the site or not.

If you decide to go on, you’ll either go directly to another article, or you’ll most probably hit one of two links: the blogs about page, or its homepage. This time, you pick the homepage. If the site you’re visiting has a “default” theme, you’ll see a listing of the last 10 posts and the same sidebar you already saw on the article you just read. That’s it.

Isn’t that a blatant misuse of the trust you’ve just given that site? Wouldn’t it be way more appropriate if the site showed you the very best content it can offer you, and gave you a sample of what kind of content you can find on it?

That is your homepage! It’s a showcase of your blog. Whether people went to it because they heard from someone “you should go to *****.com, it’s cool” or because they’ve just read an article and want to learn more about your site, that page is probably your best chance of getting a new subscriber.

So what should be on your homepage? This is the bare minimum I’d say:

  • An about text about yourself / about text about the blog.
  • A big call to action, the action being subscribing, either through email or RSS.
  • A listing of your latest posts.
  • Your “taxonomies”, either your category structure, your tag structure or both.

After that it’s all about personal preferences. I like to show off some of my best content by having featured posts and plugins, and of course I show off my Twitter.

So, how does your blogs homepage do on these criteria? What would you do differently?

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27 Responses

  1. Nomadic MattBy Nomadic Matt on 6 November, 2008

    I think its very important for a blog or website to have a semi-unique homepage. So often I see the same design over and over and over- to a frequent web user it makes the site unmemorable.

  2. Roy ScribnerBy Roy Scribner on 6 November, 2008

    I added the latest comments this past weekend, as I’m starting to get enough to make that feature worthwhile. I’ve been considering adding my tweets, but have not made up my mind, yet. A lot of times I will tweet an interesting news story that pertains to my niche, but it’s not something that I would write a post about – so I think that would be useful. But I also tweet about stuff that has nothing to do with my niche, so I wouldn’t want those showing up.

  3. AIRBy AIR on 6 November, 2008

    Well, I think important are:
    1. Easy navigation.
    2. Renaming “:Get RSS” to smth like “Get the latest news!”
    3. Bit of flash on your site, for example wp-cumulus (tags and cute animation in one)
    4. Easy commenting (captcha’s doing bad as a lot of comments are lost)
    5. Social bookmarks.

  4. martijn beijkBy martijn beijk on 6 November, 2008

    for this ( music event page I run. I embed an appealing youtube video which showcases the latest(s) events and i make sure I have the ‘upcoming events’ displayed by using your Upcoming Plugin customized to fit a widget ;-)
    Also i showcase a few event pictures using flickrRSS and feature 3 categories (Events, Added Media and Organisational)

  5. VadskaerBy Vadskaer on 6 November, 2008

    I’m sorry for going off-topic. Just wanted to thank you for your excellent iPhone UI. I totally love how the comments load ajax-style.

    I read most blogs on my iPhone these days, so it’s much appreciated when I come across iPhone UI blogs ;-)

    Thanks again.

  6. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 6 November, 2008

    Thx for all the comments!! You guys are really adding value :)

    @Vadskaer: that’s the mobilepress plugin :)

  7. ChipBy Chip on 6 November, 2008

    Well, I’ve been playing lately with the number of posts on my homepage, and I decided I really should have less than I do have now. I was also thinking that I might add a random post on top of them with a diferrent design.

    You are right, and you made me change something on my blog. As soon as I have some spare time. Thanks.

  8. Elja TrumBy Elja Trum on 6 November, 2008

    I’ve recently redesigned my blog and based on your suggestions I’ll update the homepage a bit more. I like the ‘info about the blog’ idea. Thx!

    On my blog homepage I start out with the two most recent post, then show the category’s and a ‘featured article’. After that there come a couple more recent blog posts which get interrupted by a (blog related) daily comic.

    Honestly I do think your current posts are a bit under-exposed on your homepage. And the flashing banners draw a bit to much attention. I do however like the featured article and plugin. I’d given the twitter feed a less prominent place, but thats me.

  9. archshrkBy archshrk on 7 November, 2008

    I’ve been making improvements to my site recently and found that cleaner sidebars made a difference (they were way too cluttered). So my home page sidebars are a little different than my post/page sidebars (much like you described)

    What I’ve wrestled with is pimping my best post either as most visited or most commented but then that just adds to their current value (popular posts will get more popular). Rather, I prefer a random list that spreads the cross-post love. That, and Similar Posts Plugin at the end of each post seems like a good way to get any visitor to check out more posts.

  10. Ryan CoughlinBy Ryan Coughlin on 8 November, 2008

    Great list and article, I need to keep this handy. Thank you for this. I am going to make my improvements!


  11. SEO Tips South AfricaBy SEO Tips South Africa on 9 November, 2008

    I am currently working on my first WordPress Blog. This article has given me a lot of direction. Thanks guys!

  12. youfoundjakeBy youfoundjake on 9 November, 2008

    Sorry to be off-topic Joost, but have you had any reports of issues for your link anaylsis tool? Works ok in google, but yahoo, not at this moment. I think yahoo may have changed something because when I change the parameters to “show inlinks except from this domain” and “entire site”, yahoo pops up a message “Error, matches is null”
    my firefox is updated btw.
    thanks for the tool, and as you can see, i depend on it, heeh

  13. TertiusBy Tertius on 10 November, 2008

    I gotta say, the thing that catches my eye instantly are related articles that have catchy names. Linkbait gets me!

    Maybe I should implement it myself…

  14. DONBy DON on 10 November, 2008

    One of the things I do with my homepage on this particular site is try to pull new visitors in with a pleasing view of color and content.

    My homepage is my foundation that sends the visitor to different and engaging content.

    I try to make it enjoyable and interactive. I visit many sites and if I find something missing that should be there, I then scrutinize my site to make sure I provide it.

    Ease of use, a degree of interaction and Superb and Unique Content will Have people Bookmarking and Referring.

    This has shown to be a winning formula and I incorporate it in many of my sites.

  15. JasonKBy JasonK on 10 November, 2008

    I have a top 10 posts page – however the plugin that used to do that calculation broke several versions ago and doesn’t work any more.

    From memory it was called Popularity – It is a good idea to have a top 10 posts but better if that is a rolling snapshot. If anyone has a better plugin for this I’d be interested. Of maybe someone could volunteer to do an update on the popularity plugin?

  16. Thinkpad t60 batteryBy Thinkpad t60 battery on 11 November, 2008

    Yes the blog homepage is very important to your blog. It must be very easy to help your reader view all the blog posts.
    Why my wordpress blog Thinkpad T60 battery homepage cant be modified? I cant found any nice temples.

  17. Acer Aspire 3000 BatteryBy Acer Aspire 3000 Battery on 11 November, 2008

    On my blog homepage I start out with the two most recent post, then show the category’s and a ‘featured article’. After that there come a couple more recent blog posts which get interrupted by a (blog related Acer Aspire 3000 Battery) daily comic.

  18. SketcheeBy Sketchee on 11 November, 2008

    Great post and for me it’s pretty timely. I was just thinking about how I tend to respond to blogs with descriptions and was thinking about adding one to my site. Now I’ll be sure to do it. I always feel like seeing a description of the blog is a mission statement and when I see posts that fulfill the mission statement, it pulls me in much more

  19. JPBy JP on 12 November, 2008

    Hi Joost,

    Nice post. You make a good point about the “About Me” section, which was really the only bit my blog is missing. I’ve got “subscribe now” and RSS buttons sprinkled throughout the site and main page.

    I’ve also turned the Archives/Categories/Tags sections into dropdown lists — I think it creates a neater interface than having a cluttered sidebar with long lists of tags, monthly archives, category lists, etc. It’s cluttered enough :) I use that space to focus on my most recent posts, comments, and most viewed posts.


  20. MattBy Matt on 13 November, 2008

    Great article indeed. I recently replaced the recent posts list i had on my sidebar for a hand picked featured articles lists with the most popular/representative content of my blog and so far the results are great! people are clicking them thus staying longer in the site and knowing more about my content than before. Definitely worth trying out.

  21. ZackBy Zack on 13 November, 2008

    Your “Enjoy this article?” section is quite attractive.

  22. Mike HenryBy Mike Henry on 14 November, 2008

    I’ve been trying to implement some of these ideas at my site.

  23. TanyaBy Tanya on 14 November, 2008

    I just copied out your bare minimum list of 4 things a blog should have. Now, I just have to figure out how to add them to my homepage! (I’m still kind of new to blogging.) I’ve also subscribed to your blog because I think I’m going to find lots of useful tools here. Thanks!

  24. Acer Aspire 3000 BatteryBy Acer Aspire 3000 Battery on 26 November, 2008

    Nice post. You make a good point about the “About Me” section, which was really the only bit my blog is missing. I’ve got “subscribe now” andAcer 3000 battery RSS buttons sprinkled throughout the site and main page.

  25. Dean HollandBy Dean Holland on 29 November, 2008

    GREAT !!

    Having just started blogging 5 weeks ago this is the sort of info I need

    Although I think my blog has taken off very well and has also given me my first ever online income I need detials like this… Thankyou

    Bookmarked you my friend… You are the one to follow

    Till next time