Step 8: Building a Static Home Page for Your Website


At this point, you have a nice new custom header, you’ve installed some really snazzy plugins, and you have brand new About, Privacy and Contact pages. But your new website still has that silly “Hello World” post on the front page. This has to go.

You now have two choices. You can have one page that always shows up as your home page when someone types YourDomain.com into the address bar of their web browser. Or you can have a blog-style website that changes the home page every time you write a new post.

You can choose one option now, and then change your mind later. For now, let’s assume that you just want a very simple website that lets people know who you are, and where to find something that you sell. Maybe you own a small coffee shop downtown and you want people to find your shop if they do a Google search instead of  looking for coffee shops the phone book. Or maybe you’re a professional artist who sells at local art shows, and you want people to be able to find your website when they search for your name. Once they get to your site, you want them to know which local galleries to visit to find your latest work.

For a simple website like this, you don’t need anything more than the basic pages we made in lesson #7, and a simple static home page. That’s what we’ll build during this lesson. If you decide you want a blog instead, read through the instructions about adding images, which you’ll find below.

Static Home Page

So let’s start building our page. Open up your Add New screen under the Pages tab. The page I built for this lesson is extremely basic, but it will give you an idea about what you can do for your own site. You can get a lot fancier than I did, and play around with it to your heart’s content.

The first thing you want to do is give your page a title. Remember those keywords – give yourself a nice, readable headline, and make sure it gives people a clue about what your page is about.

Add an Image

Next, for my page I want to add an image right at the top. To add an image, you’ll find an itty bitty square icon to the right of the words Upload/Insert above the big text box:

Add Images Icon

Add Images Icon

Click on that screen, and you’ll get to the window that lets you upload an image from your computer.

Remember – use your image editing program to reduce the resolution of your images to 72 pixels per inch. Anything larger than that is just wasted bandwidth, because computer screens can’t read the extra detail. And big files take a very long time to load.

You’ll also want to reduce the dimensions of your image so it fits into the width of your page’s column. You’ll need an image editing program to do these things – the manual that comes with the program will tell you how to do it. I use the PhotoPlus program by Serif, but you probably have an image editing program that came with your computer or your digital camera.

On a previous lesson I posted links to several places where you can get a free or low-cost image if you don’t have one of your own.

Also, you want to name your images with words that mean something to search engines. If you have a website about Joe’s coffee shop, name your image “Joe’s Coffee Shop.” If it’s an image of a painting of a beautiful sunset on the California coast… You get the picture.

Uploading Image to Your Web Page

Uploading Image to Your Web Page

After you hit the Open button, your image will upload to the server, and it will take a few moment to think about things. Then you’ll get a screen that looks like this:

Adding Alt Tag to Your Images

Adding Alt Tag to Your Images

Fill in the Alternate Text, and add a caption if you want text to show up below your image, as it does in the image above. If you don’t want a caption, leave it blank. If you want a small version of your image to show up on your page with a link to the full-sized image, leave the Link URL alone. I deleted the link because I want my image to show up full sized, and it doesn’t need to link to another page.

You can also choose where you want the image to appear. If it’s large, you will probably want to center it. If it’s small enough to fit beside some text, choose the left or right button. Then click on Insert Into Post. Your image will now show up in the text box of your New Page screen.

You can preview your page, using the Preview button under the Publish tab at the right of the window. This will open a new browser window, so you can look at your pages without losing any of the work.

Add Links

Write your text, telling people about yourself, your shop or your artwork. If you want to link to another website, perhaps to your Etsy store, highlight the words you want to use as a link, and click on the Insert Link icon at the top of the text box. You’ll get a popup box that looks like this:

Adding a Link to Your Website

Adding a Link to Your Website

Fill in the website address, including the Http://. If you have work showing in a gallery or on an Etsy store, be sure to link directly to the page on the other website that shows your work. Don’t link to the main page, and then make people hunt for you.

If you own a store and you want real humans to visit, be sure to include the address of your store, the hours you’re open, and your phone number. An image of people enjoying themselves inside your coffee shop, or eating your pizza, or perhaps entering the front door of your establishment would be very inviting and would encourage people to visit.

Use Keywords in Your Text

The one thing you need to sneak into the text on your page, even if you aren’t writing very much, is your keyword. Joe’s Coffee Shop in Smalltown, OH, or Landscape paintings of Ohio cornfields, or whatever.

Allow Comments, or Not

If you don’t want to allow people to comment on your home page, uncheck the buttons under the Discussion heading below your text box. This will make the comment box disappear. You can change your mind later.

When you’re done, go down to the All in One SEO text fields and add your title and description tags. Then, when you’re happy with your page, click on the Publish button.

Making Your Page Stick On the Home Page of Your Site

You now have a page, but the home page still shows that silly Hello World post that came with the WordPress installation. To make your new page show up on the home page, go to the Settings tab, and go to the Reading screen. Choose the Static Page radio button, and then pick the page you want for your home page.

Creationg a Static Home Page

Creationg a Static Home Page

Click on Save Changes, and then go check out your website. My test site now looks like this:

My New Website

My New Website

I know it isn’t the most exiting website you’ve ever seen, but any website is better than no website at all. If you have a website and your local competition doesn’t, it gives you at least a small competitive advantage. Or you can show off your artwork or your latest craft project, even if you don’t really sell them. You know other artists would love to see your work, even if you can’t bear to part with them. (Which reminds me – the pig in the image above is not really for sale….)

As you can see in the image above, there’s still one thing we need to do. In the sidebar, there’s a link to that Hello World post that came with your WordPress installation. You can delete the post and remove the Recent Posts widget from your sidebar, and call your site done. Or you can start writing posts to tell people about the latest activities at your store, what art shows you’re attending now, or whatever you like. Deleting the post is easy (you’ve already figured out how to do that). But let’s write a new one in the next lesson.

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