Over the past couple of months I’ve gotten a number of questions from members of the Tech Genius program asking about how to get a particular kind of layout on their homepage similar to what appears on this website, which is a site of my friend Sabine:
What they’ve been yearning for is a way to get a content area at the top of their homepage that has either a paragraph or two of text or a video on one side and sign up form fields on the other side (usually name, email address, and a “sign up now” button), just like on Sabine’s site above.
Whether you’re offering some kind of free offer to build up your email list or selling information products on your website, there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually want to create a layout like that somewhere on your site, probably on the homepage. But it’s easier said than done.
That kind of layout comes from what’s known as a “squeeze page,” which is a layout style that you’ll often see being used for things like opt in pages for a free training.
They’re called “squeeze pages” because they focus visitors towards taking just one single action on the page: enter your email address to receive something valuable and useful for free, or at least just in exchange for your email address. (To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the term “squeeze page,” because I don’t like the idea of “squeezing” people to do something, but using this layout to offer something great for free doesn’t mean that you’re being a slimy, aggressive, used-car salesman on your website.)
Squeeze page layouts are designed to help you build your email list with people who are interested in the kinds of things you’re offering through your business or blog. Down the road, you eventually send out offers for paid products to the people on your email list that signed up for something super awesome and free on your site.
All that usually exists on a traditional squeeze page is a small amount of text or a video and a sign up form to enter your name and email address. There’s most often no main menu, no advertisements, and usually no links to anything else on the page that would give you a chance to leave the page by clicking on a link…all of which can be distractions for visitors that lead them away from the action you want them to take, which is to sign up for your free goody.
Here’s an example of a pure squeeze page:
When you put a block of content at the top of your homepage that has the same kind of squeeze page layout to offer something awesome in exchange for a person’s email address, some people call that your “big banana,” (a term that I believe came from Marie Forleo who runs the B School program.)
If you want to offer a big banana on your WordPress site’s homepage using a “squeeze” layout, as you shop for a theme for your site you’ll soon realize that there aren’t many good looking themes that come with an option to easily put a “squeeze content” section at the top of the homepage. And there’s the rub.
There are many squeeze page themes for creating just a squeeze page by itself (and not a theme for the rest of the pages on your site), and there are plenty of plugins that allow you to create squeeze or sales pages that look a bit different from the design of your site’s main theme.
However, finding a nice looking theme that you’d want to use for your whole site that also has a squeeze page type of layout at the top of the homepage can be difficult.
Those kind of page layouts are sometimes called “integrated squeeze pages” because other elements of your site are still present, like the theme, the main menu, the sidebars, and so on.
For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll call themes that have that as an option for the homepage layout “squeeze themes.”
There are a few squeeze themes available on the interwebs, but they are few and far between.
When I was building my site, I wanted a video and a sign up form for a free video course at the top of my homepage with blog posts appearing below it, but that kind of layout didn’t come as an option in the theme I wanted to use, so I had to customize it to get what I wanted.
I edited the code of the theme so I could have a video on the left and a sign up form to the right of the video, instead of the image slideshow that was there.
Unfortunately most theme companies haven’t recognized that there’s a big need for integrated squeeze theme homepage layouts, which means that they don’t usually provide it as an option in their themes. There are, however, a few ways you can achieve that kind of layout, either for your homepage or for a landing/sales page that’s separate from your homepage.
First, you might find a theme from one of the many WordPress theme companies that actually has an easy option to create this kind of layout on the homepage.
Here are a couple examples of themes that have this kind of layout available on the homepage:
Both of those themes uses the Genesis framework, which gives you a ton of extra features that you won’t get with normal WordPress themes, such as search engine optimization tools or easy ways to customize many elements of your theme without touching any code.
The creators of the Genesis framework and themes also have another product called Premise, which is a great option to create squeeze page layouts for a sales or landing page (in addition to the ability to create several other types of sales page layouts easily) with no need to edit code.
To be clear, the pages that Premise creates are separate pages from your homepage, but it makes creating those kinds of pages super simple.
Premise has another great set of features as well…features that allow you to create a protected, paid access area of your site. So, if you’re planning on selling access to an online program of some sort, Premise is worth checking out.
Another way to easily create this and other kinds of sales page layouts is to use OptimizePress, which has some similar features as Premise, in addition to many features that Premise doesn’t have (Premise can do things that OptimizePress can’t do too, so be sure to compare their feature sets if you’re trying to decide between the two.)
Keep in mind that with both Premise and OptimizePress sales or squeeze pages, you’ll be creating pages of your site that will look a bit different than the other pages of your site because they will remove everything from the page layout except things like your own custom header image, sales copy or an opt-in video, some kind of a sign up form, buy now button, or possibly a pricing table.
Things like your main menu and the general look and feel of the theme that appears on the other pages of your site will not be present on the sales, landing, or squeeze pages you create with Premise or OptimizePress, but that’s not a bad thing in my opinion because having less things present on a sales or squeeze page will focus people on your message and lead to higher numbers of people signing up for your life enhancing, helpful offers.
Premise and OptimizePress won’t help you create an integrated squeeze page type of layout on your homepage, but they’re great for creating other kinds of opt-in and sales pages on your site.
Lastly, you could also hire a WordPress designer/developer who can take a theme from a good theme company and create the kind of big banana integrated squeeze page layout you want on your homepage by customizing the code of the theme.
Though this will be a more expensive route than just using a predesigned WordPress theme out of the box, it’s still much, much less expensive than having a website designed from scratch with this feature built in.
Going the fully custom designed route can cost thousands of dollars, while starting with a good looking theme from a WordPress theme company and having it’s code edited to create a new content section at the top of your homepage for your big banana offer could cost only a few hundred dollars.
Yes, that’s still more expensive than using an out-of-the box $40 theme, but getting the look and feel you want plus a custom big banana offer content section on your homepage will likely pay for itself quickly because it will help you build up your community of awesome people who may buy some of your stellar paid products one day.
Okay, that’s all on this topic for now.
If you’re aware of any good integrated “squeeze themes” that make it easy to create a big banana offer on the homepage (without editing code), let me know in the comments below. I love having good resources on hand to refer people to when questions like this come up.