Is looking at your home page like looking down a deep well? Can your visitors see the bottom? Does it contain every word of every article you’ve ever posted? Are there some things at the bottom of the well you would like at the top? If so, there are three simple things you can do turn your deep well into a nice, safe, fun-time paddling pool.
1. Show only a summary of each post
You don’t need to Immerse visitors to your home page in the full details of each article – just present them with enough to catch there attention; and if they want to be immersed they can click the Continue Reading link, which can be easily inserted into any post.
You probably recognise this section (see left) of the post editor, but have you noticed the ‘Insert Read More tag’ button? Simply place your cursor at the point in the article where you want the Continue Reading link to appear and click the button I’ve highlighted in yellow. You can insert a Read More tag at any point in your document – even in the middle of a sentence.
When you insert a tag, in the editor, a horizontal dashed line will appear, and all you have to do is make sure the text above the line provides your reader with enough information and encouragement to click through to read the full post. A sentence or two is probably enough, and an image will likely help, too.
My recommendation is that you include a Read More tag on every page that is shown on your home page, and to get into the habit of including one on every new post.
2. Limit the number of posts
I’m not saying that you should limit the number of posts that you write, but I am saying that you should limit the number of posts you wish to show on your home page. Even if you make good use of the Read More tag and show only a summary of your posts on the home page, it may not be too long before your home page become overly long and causing lengthy load times without even much of a home that your visitors will ever get to see the posts at the bottom.
And so WordPress provides the ability to limit the number of posts in your home page.
The reading settings (see left) include a parameter labelled, “Blog pages show at most”. By default (if memory serves) it is set to 30, which was much too high for my liking, and so I set it to ten for my blog.
There is, of course, no single correct answer to the question, “How many posts should I have on my home page?”. It’s whatever’s right for you. The first question you need to ask yourself is this:
If an older post is not shown on my home page, then how easy will it be for my visitors to find it?
Of course, there are ways to help your visitors to find articles, with tags, categories, menus and widgets, but that is a big topic, and not for this article.
The other things that you need to think about are: how frequently you’ll be adding posts; how much text and image will you place before the Read More tags, and how far back in time do you want your home page to go?
In the end, there is no better way to work these things out and to look at your home page through the eyes of a visitor.
3. Stick your favourite(s) to the top
Blogs traditionally show the most recent posts at the top and older ones at the bottom. And the dates of each post are shown. This is what makes it a blog. However, some of your older posts might be of more interest to your visitors than some of your most recent ones. And so WordPress allow you to stick some posts to the top of your home page, where they remain until you unstick them.
You may have more than one Sticky Post at the top of your home page, and they’ll appear before all the other posts. They’ll also appear slightly differently to the non-stick posts. This will depend on your theme, but the date published will probably not show on your home page as this would confuse the reverse chronology of your posts.
How to Stick a post to your home page
- Find the publish pane in the Post Editor (see above)
- Click Edit (highlighted in yellow) to expand, as below.
- Tick the box that reads, “Stick this post to the front page”.
- Click OK.
The Sticky Post will appear on your home page until such time as you unstick it.