WordPress is the world’s leading content management system and site builder, powering about a third of the world’s personal and business websites. Free to use and endlessly customizable, WordPress allows new users and experienced developers alike to create websites to meet all kinds of specialized needs. Much of the flexibility and customization available to WordPress users come from modifying settings from the site dashboard, including settings for establishing the look and behavior of your site’s homepage.

Managing WordPress Settings

Along with the customization options that come with WordPress theme settings, you can also change the look and functionality of any WordPress site by adjusting its extensive array of built-in settings and layout options. General settings for global aspects of the WordPress site can be controlled from the Settings tab in the site’s Admin dashboard. This allows users – even those with no site development or coding experience – to set custom preferences for a function, such as managing comments, custom permalinks, and how content is created and displayed. When a WordPress plugin is installed, its settings can also be managed from the Settings tab. And although it may not be readily apparent, the Settings panel can also be used to manage other aspects of the site, including setting a custom homepage of your choice.

Customizing WordPress Homepage Settings

Although it is used to create websites of all kinds today, WordPress was originally conceived as a tool for bloggers – and some of its functionality still reflects that intent. Most WordPress themes for general use are designed to showcase the site’s blog posts as the front, or home, page. But not all users choose to have a blog, and for many, it is more important to present other kinds of content to visitors on the homepage. Making the switch from a blog page to a static homepage of another kind can be done using your site’s Reading Settings and the Pages editor.

Designate a New Static Homepage

To change the site’s WordPress homepage settings, you’ll need to designate a page as the desired homepage, which will be displayed as a static or unchanging page whenever your site opens.  To do this, select Pages>Add New from the dashboard. Name the new page “Home,” or any name you choose and add the content you want to display on the homepage. When it looks just right, Publish the page.

If you already have a page with existing content that you’d like to designate as the homepage, you can edit that page to rename it “Home,” and republish it, or simply continue to use its current name.

Create a Blog Post Page

Since blog posts will not be displayed by default as the front page of the site, they’ll need a place to appear as well. To designate a placeholder page for blog posts, create another new page from the Pages tab and give it a name that describes your blog content, such as “Blog,” “Posts,” or “Articles.”  There is no need to add content to this page because only the title is relevant. Publish this page too, even though it’s blank.

Customize the Reading Settings

Once you’ve created these two pages and published them, navigate back to the Admin Settings panel and select settings for Reading. Under “Front Page Displays,” settings options, select “A Static Page.” Dropdown menus allow you to select from the available pages for both the Front Page and the Posts Page. For the Front Page display, select the name of the page you want to use as a homepage – either the new “Home,” page you created or another of your choice. For the Posts page, select the blog post page you just created, or simply leave it blank if your site doesn’t have a blog. Then click Save Changes. The new homepage should appear as a static front page and in your site menus.

Customize the Permalinks

By default, WordPress displays links to a site’s pages as a series of numbers and letters, but creating custom permalinks can help your site’s searchability and ensure that your homepage is clearly designated as such. From the Admin dashboard, navigate to Permalink Settings. Under Common Settings, choose “Post Name,” so that the name of every page or post appears in its unique URL. Then click Save Changes.

Adjust the Menus

It is also important to make sure the site’s menus correctly display the new front page and blog page changes.  From Settings, select Appearance>Menus. Select “Create a New Menu,” from the available options, which can vary by theme. From all available pages, select the ones that should display in the site’s menus, including the new homepage and the blog or post page that were just created. Click Save Menu to update menu settings to reflect the new structure.

Working with WordPress Themes

Some themes, both free and premium, don’t allow the option to override the theme’s core settings to create a static homepage that is different from the post page. Themes that are specifically designed for blogging or other specific purposes like the magazine WordPress theme may not include the Front Page Display settings in the Reading tab. To be sure that a theme includes the option for setting a custom homepage, check the theme’s list of included features. It is also possible to force this change by creating a child theme from your site’s existing “parent” theme, then making alterations on the code level.

Although WordPress hosting was designed to make online publishing a reality for everyone, it can power sites ranging from small personal blogs to large e-commerce concerns thanks to its versatility and flexibility. The WordPress Settings panel on your WordPress dashboard offers both new and experienced users an array of options for customizing a site’s appearance and functions, including setting the homepage that reflects your brand and the goals of your WordPress site.

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