Building an Online Home: Essayist Melissa Matthewson’s Simple and Effective Front Page

Photo courtesy of Melissa Matthewson.

With hundreds of themes on WordPress.com, writers have many options to build a space for their work. Author Melissa Matthewson goes minimal, subtly transforming the Paulie theme to create a fresh writer’s website.


Melissa Matthewson lives on a small mountain homestead in the Applegate Valley of southwestern Oregon, spending her days writing, teaching, and running an organic market farm with her family. You’ll find her work across the web, from publications like Guernica and River Teeth to literary journals across WordPress, like Sweet and Bellingham Review. 

With a growing archive of essays, Melissa needs an online home to promote her work. At the moment, she’s opted for a simple writer’s website, transforming the Paulie theme to fit her needs. Paulie works well out of the box for traditional blogging, as shown on its demo site. But instead of displaying her most recent posts on the homepage, Melissa has configured her site to show a static front page:

melissa-matthewson
The static front page of Melissa Matthewson’s site.

Learn how to add a gallery to your site.

Melissa displays a tiled mosaic gallery of six images on her front page, giving visitors a glimpse of her interests and life beyond writing. Photography, in addition to or instead of text, is a great way to introduce yourself on your front page.

“I prefer to tell stories with pictures at the moment, and save my in-depth writing for my book and essays,” says Melissa. “I like the gallery on the homepage, and would love to continue making high-quality collages for the site. I’m quite obsessed with aesthetics and beauty.”

Melissa’s menu contains links to two other pages, About and Publications, providing readers with the essentials: her bio and recent nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews, as well as a list of her awards and interviews.

Melissa's publications page, organized as a simple list of links.
Melissa’s publications page, organized as a simple list of links.

Changing your header image is a quick way to refresh your site.

For the site’s body text, Paulie uses Source Code Pro, the monospaced font that Melissa loves.

“I love the fresh look of Paulie — the simplicity of the design,” says Melissa. “The default font, which reminds me of a typewriter, is stylish but readable. I also like the wide header image at the top, which I can rotate every so often as my moods change.”

Melissa’s current look is minimal, but she has the space to expand in the future as she updates her archive of publications and grows her professional presence.


Love this layout? Learn how to set up a static front page.

November 17, 2016Authors, Design, Inspiration, ,