SPEAK VISUALLY Receive practical tips on how to
communicate visually, right in your inbox.
As a content marketer, the design of your blog home page is a critical aspect of your marketing and promotion strategy. And yet, it's a page that's often poorly understood and therefore poorly designed.
If you want to create an effective home page for your company blog, you need to avoid making common mistakes. In fact, many business owners inexperienced in this type of design end up with a cluttered and confusing page that doesn't achieve its ideal marketing goals.
We'll walk you through every necessary step to create a blog home page that's designed from the ground up to be an effective marketing tool.
A blog home page is the first page visitors see when they visit your company blog. In general, it fits into one of the following three categories:
Most new company blogs fall into the top category as most of the advice out there comes from sites that are more interested in highlighting product features than imparting marketing wisdom (e.g. page builders, WordPress themes, etc.)
In fact, a lot of their advice will take you down the wrong path, hurting your conversion potential.
So, let's first look into the things you shouldn’t do through an example, and then course correct.
If your business is a review site for, say, vacuum cleaners, it’s very tempting to start out your blog homepage with something like:
“This blog reviews the latest home vacuum models. We test all the top vacuum cleaners on the market in our dedicated facilities and then recommend the best products for your needs.”
…which is typically followed by a pinned list of featured posts, ending with a blog roll sorted from most recent on down.
This design approach is almost always complemented with an in-your-face popup opt-in screen that appears after about 15 seconds with a call to action asking for an email in exchange for a lead magnet.
Here’s the thing – this is not the formula for a high-converting blog homepage. Why? Read on!
When it comes to consumers scouring the internet for information (read: all of us) we are always tuned into a single radio station: WIIFM — “What’s In It For Me?”
If the first thing you do when someone lands on your home page is feature your business solution, you’ll be triggering the following thought in the mind of a WIIFM listener: “Who cares?”
Unless you’re a household name brand, nobody but your current customers will care about your company and your solutions.
So, what’s the right approach to creating a blog homepage that works?
Follow the 11 steps below:
Before you can answer the “What’s In It For Me?” question, you first need to know full well who the “Me” part is.
You need to thoroughly research your audience to find out what type of people frequently seek the information that your site provides.
And by thoroughly, I mean who they are (average age, gender, occupation, family income, and other demographic tidbits) as well as their psychographic background (what motivates them, what are their hopes, challenges, dreams, fears, what do they value most and why?).
It’s really pointless to target someone in a niche without putting in the work to figure out all of the above. If you base your messaging on who you “think” they are instead of who they really are, you'll just be shooting in the dark.
If you’re not sure who your target audience is, use a resume-like template to create a persona for each facet of your audience.
Next, you need to decide what your blog is about (wait what? isn’t it supposed to be about my business solution?)
Well… yes, promoting your business solution is why you want to have a blog, but your blog shouldn’t be about your business solution (because, once again, who cares?), but instead about what kind of roadblocks your solution will remove for your audience.
See, we search for information for many reasons, but one of the most common ones is because we’re stuck. We’re trying to accomplish something and yet we’re unable to get it done on our own, so we look elsewhere for help.
The minute that you change the focus of your blog from “you” (showcasing your solution and singing the praises of your product) to “them” (removing roadblocks from your audience’s path), you’ll be on your way to a highly converting blog.
Now, it’s time to distill the essence of your blog into a few simple words to create your home page headline.
This headline needs to convey your audience’s pain (as a result of their roadblocks), the roadblocks themselves, and finally, tease your solution (without revealing it.)
As an example, I’ll show you my own blog’s headline so you can get a better idea of where I’m going here (I have to walk the talk, right?):
My target audience is made out of folks who want to start a side-hustle to generate online income, but are not technically savvy.
Their dream? To monetize their expertise online and make money while they sleep (or while they do their day job.)
Their roadblock? The confusing technology that they need to master in order to achieve their dream.
Will my site work for an audience that has experience starting online businesses? Not at all. They already know what tools they need and won’t bother reading my articles.
But for newbies to the online side hustle business, there’s a lot in the above headline that’s in it for them.
Now, once you've clearly identified your audience’s roadblocks to getting what they want and teased your solution, it’s time to move on to the next piece of the puzzle.
Your next job is to offer the solution you just teased out in your headline. Your solution has to clearly show how you’ll remove your audience's roadblocks in a unique way, which is achieved through your sub-headline.
Here’s how my blog’s sub-headline reads:
Faced with a barrage of “The Best 27…” The Best 15…” “The Best 50…” etc. type articles that show every possible tool available under the sun (overwhelming most newbies)...
...I condense my research to the four choices that people will be most interested in and omit the rest. This is my business solution. Now your job is to find yours and capture it in your sub-headline.
Now, it's time to talk about design.
While it’s tempting to use a pretty logo in your blog, a slick one, a “professional” looking one, etc. consider that logos should never be chosen for their visual appeal alone.
Logos must be primarily designed to visually represent the removal of your audience’s roadblocks. They need to reflect their aspirations, something that visually represents an open path to their dreams.
Back to my blog, here’s my logo:
Why did I choose a lightbulb? Because it represents the clarity of the path ahead for my audience, free of technological roadblocks keeping them from their online income dreams. The lightbulb also symbolizes a good idea, inspiration, and so on.
Creating a logo doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. To get you started, you can use a logo template like the one below for your brand and company blog.
To recap, here's what the top section of my blog home page looks like, putting together all the pieces from steps 1-5:
So far, no featured blog posts, no bio, no blogroll, no popup, just a clean image with few words that answer a single question in the mind of its target audience: “What’s In It For Me?”
If you, your company or your business solution has been mentioned or reviewed by recognizable sources, then make sure to add their logos to your home page.
This is a simple but highly effective marketing hack to piggyback on their credibility and have it “transfer” to your blog.
Here’s an example:
Pro tip: Link the logo images to the articles that made the mentions.
This is the “show and tell” part of your home page, where you have to demonstrate to your audience how you’ll be helping them in more concrete terms.
So far you’ve shown them what’s in it for them, now you need to show them how you’ll help them remove roadblocks from their path.
This part will be entirely dependent on your niche and your business, so my example will likely not apply to you. However, always make sure to convey this information from your audience’s point of view and not yours.
You always want to elicit an answer to “What’s in it for me?” without ever eliciting a “Who cares?”
In my case, I created a simple map of the road ahead for my target audience with the different “tech” milestones that they’ll encounter on their journey to generating online income:
This is where you introduce your blog articles. If you had done this earlier on, you would’ve been at the receiving end of an impolite “Who cares?”
But now, you’ve demonstrated to your audience that this is not an empty home page but the portal to your fantastic blog chockfull of great articles ready-made to address their needs:
This is the part where you sing your writers’ praises, not in a boastful way but in a “audience-centric” way.
What you want to do in this section is show your audience why your team of writers is perfectly suited to help them achieve their goals. Remember to frame their bios in answer to the question “What’s In It For Me?”
Your writers’ bios can be short or long, depending on your chosen style, there’s no one-size-fits-all here. If your writers have a story to tell that’s super relevant to your audience then go long. If you want to keep them short and sweet, then do that, like I’ve done on my blog homepage:
Now it's time to build one of your most important digital assets: your email list.
The fact that I’ve left the lead-capture opt-in for last on my home page doesn’t mean that it’s last on every page. In fact, my opt-in is placed prominently on each page of my site, except for the blog homepage.
Why? Because if you ask your audience for something of value (their email address) before you’ve even made your case to them that:
Then, your opt-in will be ignored.
Make sure your opt-in is aligned with your business solution and that it’s closely related to the removal of your audience’s roadblocks.
Here’s the opt-in on my blog:
You can easily create your own using a template like the one below.
When it comes to blog design, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
There are some people who advise newbie bloggers not to sweat the details at the beginning until their site gets traction on search engines, and also that it’s okay to put out a substandard product quickly just to get started.
Ship, ship, ship! They say, which has some merit (in contrast to analysis paralysis). However, there’s a big drawback to using a substandard design when you kick things off.
See, when you launch a new blog, a lot of your initial success will come from influencers that you approach for feedback, guest posting opportunities and other mutually beneficial cross-marketing techniques.
And if they see a substandard site they’ll more than likely turn you down.
So, always use a suite of top-of-the-line design tools, like Visme's web graphics creator, and professional looking WordPress themes, like ThriveThemes, and don’t skim on design because it’ll come back to haunt you.
Your design doesn’t have to be super elaborate, but it has to look professional from the get go.
As you’ve probably noticed, this article didn’t talk about color palettes, fonts or specs for images. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t important, they absolutely are (especially in line with Step 11 above).
I just wanted you to understand the marketing foundation required to create a blog homepage that’s effective without getting lost in the weeds of design choices.
There are a ton of great resources out there that’ll help you with your blog design. But if you don’t get the foundation of the building done right, it doesn’t really matter how much eye candy you throw at the facade – your entire structure will be shaky.
If you take the time to develop a solid foundation based on sound marketing principles, then you’ll have the freedom to experiment with your blog home page design until you get it just right.
But you’ll be doing it with the knowledge that it’ll never ever elicit a “Who cares?” from your audience!
Design visual brand experiences for your business whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.Try Visme for free