How to Build an Effective 'Start Here' Page for Your WordPress Blog - ManageWP

How to Build an Effective ‘Start Here’ Page for Your WordPress Blog

How to Build an Effective 'Start Here' Page for Your WordPress Blog

Just about every blogger knows that they should have an about page — it is a mainstay of the blogosphere. Whilst many may not be particularly well-optimized, at least they are there.

The same cannot be said for the massively undervalued ‘Start Here’ page — whilst I have seen it grow in popularity over the past year or so, it is still not as widespread as I believe it should be.

In this article I intend to demonstrate why a ‘Start Here’ page can be so beneficial and then go on to show you how to create a great one for your own blog.

Why Almost Every Blog Should Have a ‘Start Here’ Page

Let’s start with something obvious — if you don’t have an area on your blog in which you show people how to get started, how do they know whether your site is right for them or not?

To simply assume that visitors will arrive on your blog and instantly ‘get it’ is likely to result in a lot of people leaving frustrated. Visitors need to have their hand held when they first come across a new blog — they need to be shown in very plain terms how it can benefit them and why they should stick around (and/or subscribe).

Whilst your about page can cater to this task to an extent, it is not a complete solution. On the other hand, your ‘Start Here’ page is the perfect place to:

  1. Tell people how they can benefit from your blog, and
  2. Spoon-feed your best content to them (and thus fulfill your promise).

And boy are they popular. Your about page is probably already one of the most popular pages on your blog, but a ‘Start Here’ page wouldn’t be too far behind. Here is a list of the most-visited pages on my blog for the month of October:

Most Visited Pages

As you can see, my ‘Start Here’ page is the third most popular destination on the site. But that’s not all — check out the comparable metrics between visitors to my ‘Start Here’ page and all visitors:

Metrics

As you can see, visitors to my ‘Start Here’ page (on average) carry out well over three times as many actions and spend well over three times as long on the site. They almost never bounce off. And perhaps most impressively, around 10% of visitors to the page convert into email subscribers.

So in my opinion, the evidence suggests that a ‘Start Here’ page can be a very good thing for your blog. And before you ask, we are working on creating one for the ManageWP blog 😉

Alright, so by now you should be a convert to the concept of a ‘Start Here’ page. The next question is of course, what should you put in one?

Creating an Awesome ‘Start Here’ Page

The first step to creating a great ‘Start Here’ page is to clearly and concisely communicate the unique benefits your visitor can gain from browsing your site. When you write the content for your page, you need to keep your target audience in mind. You need to write for that one person who will immediately connect with you on the strength of just a few words.

Here’s the introduction to my ‘Start Here’ page:

Start Here

As you can see, my blog is targeted at people who want to quit their jobs and build their own online business — I make that very clear in the first sentence. I narrow down my target audience further by specifically mentioning the business models I tend to cover. Finally I clarify the benefits to be gained from reading my blog over any other in my niche (i.e. people can discover what I have tried as well as the causes of my successes and failures).

So in just three sentences I have covered:

  1. Who the blog is for (generally)
  2. Who the blog is for (specifically)
  3. Why my blog is worth reading (its unique selling proposition)

By doing this you split your readers into two groups — those who are now fully engaged with your site, and those who are not. You don’t need to worry yourself about the second group, as they were never going to hang around for long anyway. Your ‘Start Here’ page has done its job by engaging with the exact type of person you want to keep on your blog.

Immediately below this introductory blurb I recommend that you include a direct call to action — on a blog, this would typically be an invitation to sign up to your newsletter. Here’s mine:

Call to Action

You will find that this performs very well in terms of converting visitors into subscribers. If someone has got this far and is still reading, they are going to be more inclined to make a commitment like giving away their email address.

The second and final section of your ‘Start Here’ page should reveal a selection of your best content. How you present this content is entirely up to you — my page includes a list of around 40 posts sorted by category. That’s a lot of posts and you may wish to make your list a little shorter (I’m on the fence as to which approach is better).

This list should feature only your very best content — at such an early stage you want to make sure that you put your best foot forward.

That’s It!

As you will now know, putting together an effective ‘Start Here’ page does not need to be a particularly grueling process. What might only take you fifteen minutes could make a world of difference to how people engage with your blog.

What are your thoughts on ‘Start Here’ pages? Do you have one, or are you now planning on creating one? Do you have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments section!

Creative Commons image courtesy of CarbonNYC

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer is the founder of WordCandy.co. He has been a huge fan of WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not working, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!

21 Comments

  1. Jenn @ Drink Coffee & Prosper

    This was super helpful. I’ve had a Start Here page for some time. It was on my “to do” list to update it. This was a big help and I plan on finishing mine up this weekend.

  2. Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy

    Great resource!

    I followed your lead and created a “Start Here” page this weekend. Just launched it this morning. It has been on my list of things to do for a while now, so it was nice to be able to finally count that as complete.

    Interested to take a look at the metrics in a couple months to look at the conversion and engagement metrics.

    Cheers,

    Dominic

  3. zane

    Hi Tom,
    Interesting post, I still not 100% certain about what to do though. One one hand, yes, its a great place to Introduce the blog and provide some popular content…but you can easily create a popular content section on the homepage or sidebar. This way people will enjoy the blog due to loving the articles instead of feeling the pressure that they must “choose” this blog.

  4. james

    Thanks for your timely article Tom
    As a thank you… I’ve noted a couple of luminary bloggers use “start” as a page name vs. “start here”.
    Working under the principle of less is more { more or less, which by saying I’ve introduced irony =:ºD )
    I’m going with “start” :¬)
    Food for thought!

    1. Tom Ewer

      You’re welcome James :-)

  5. Kamado Jim

    Thanks for the spot-on advice, Tom. I’m at the point in developing my blog that I need to create a “Start Here” page and being that I blog about a very niche subject, your advice to define some initial expectations is especially important. I’ll definitely be implementing a few of these tips.

    1. Tom Ewer

      You’re welcome, Jim!

  6. Pim

    Great article! My question is, what do you suggest if you don’t have any content because you are just starting blogging? I’m looking forward to your response.

    Greets,
    Pim

    1. Tom Ewer

      Hey Pim,

      I’d say start with an About page and consider putting a Start Here page up when you have enough quality content to warrant it.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  7. Mahesh Mohan

    Yes, it’s an awesome way to highlight some of our best posts or to sort all posts in an organized way..

  8. web design chennai

    It is so lucky to read your blog,it is full of useful message.I wish we both can do better in the future.

  9. Justin McClelland

    I’ve been seeing so many “start here” pages recently. I need to move forward with crafting one of my own. I don’t know why I’m so late to the party. But a “start here” page will surely help direct my visitors regarding the purpose of my site.

  10. jvknight

    After I clicked “submit” I remembered a site I saw with both “Home” and “Start Here” so I went to look at it again. What this person does on her Start Here page is share a quiz about goals and stuff, then says she will contact them. THoughts?

    1. Tom Ewer

      Hi,

      For me a homepage is just a list of recent posts in reverse chronological order, unless you go for a static page, in which case a ‘Start Here’ page may be redundant.

      You can put anything you like on a ‘Start Here’ page, but for me, direction to your best posts is an obvious inclusion.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      1. Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy

        What are your thoughts about making the “Start Here” page your static home page instead of the blog feed?

  11. jvknight

    Nicely written and a great idea. Do you use “start here” and a “home” link on the navigation bar? As I read through this it sounds like they are similar, although you have both. Am I getting that right?

  12. Catherine Lloyd-Evans

    Hi there,
    Interesting stuff, I might give this a go. In your view, is it the sheer ubiquitous ‘life’ understanding of the term ‘Start Here’ that works? That it is even more widely understood than Home or About Me?
    And one other quick question – in terms of the menu – where would you recommend putting it? I have a header menu with currently two rows…

    1. Tom Ewer

      Hi Catherine,

      Yes — I think to a great degree, it’s instinctive. If someone hits a blog and doesn’t immediately “get it”, arguably the most obvious port of call is the ‘Start Here’ page.

      I would recommend placing it prominently and above the fold if possible. In the top nav, or even as a button in the sidebar (as we have).

      Cheers,

      Tom

  13. Matt

    Interesting idea to create a special “Start here” page but until now I thought most people recommend to put the info you have described and the call to action (newsletter, rss, facebook, whatever) either in the sidebar or at the end of each article. As far as I have understood it the argument for this is that most visitors don’t land on your main page but on article pages and after they finish reading the specific article they either leave or look for the next page to visit, so the bottom of articles apparently is one of the best places to engage visitors.
    Of course you can have both, but where do you see the differences or the advantages of a special “Start here” page except that you can put more content on it?

    1. Tom Ewer

      Well you’ve basically stated my argument at the end of your comment. A dedicated page allows you far more room — I can’t see how you could put more than a snippet of info in the sidebar/end of the article. Personally, I include a direct call to action at the bottom of my post and that’s it — it has the most impact that way. Meanwhile, if people aren’t ready to subscribe but want to find out more about the blog or where to get started, they can check out the ‘Start Here’ page.

  14. Jean

    I love this idea Tom! I’m definitely going to be testing it out on my sites.

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