The Home Page
Your home page must convey “the big picture” for your visitors:
- What is this?
- What do they have here?
- What can I do here?
- Why should I be here-and not somewhere else?
- Where do I start?
Making a Custom WordPress Home Page
The theme template file for the home page is typically index.php. That is the case in our Bones theme folder. Now it’s time to use our knowledge and skills built by working with the single post and category listing pages, and apply it to the “big picture”, all-important home page of your site.
Home Page Plugins
The home page is an opportunity to include some plugin widgets that may not have found a home in the rest of your site layout. These widgets may include special listings of featured content (or even a slideshow,) maps, social media feeds, etc.
Here are some plugins designed specifically for use on the home page of a WordPress site:
Showcase of Customized Home Pages
Below is a nice showcase of home pages for WordPress sites that don’t look “WordPressy.”
Adding a Special Page for the Home Page
You can set the home page to pull from a different Page, and you can even assign that page to use a special template. Be sure to give the template file all of the <html>, <head>, and <body> structure it needs, and continue using template tags like <?php bloginfo(‘template_directory’); ?> where appropriate. You should also keep your CSS in an external file, but it can be a separate file from the main one if you wish.
This is the technique I used for KidNaturalist.com.
True Customization: Work the Theme Files
You don’t need to keep the sidebar on the home page.
You don’t even need to use the same header or footer as the rest of the site!
The most flexible design option, which is what I used for KidsBusyBook.com, is to work directly in index.php. For this site, I registered some widget areas in functions.php, displayed the widget areas in index.php, and took care to work around and within the loop.
Then I was able to move the widgets I needed into the widget areas from the Dashboard (Appearance > Widgets).