Your World Anvil homepage is the first impression your readers get! Consider it to your world, what a cover is to a book. And as much as we try not to judge books by their cover, having an attractive homepage will make your world much more welcoming to new readers. So, here are five tips to take your homepage design to the next level!
1. Know your audience
The main purpose of your homepage is to introduce your readers to your world. This means that you need to know who these readers are! Or, better yet, who you want them to be (this is the internet after all, you never know who’s reading your stuff!). Here are some possibilities:
- The players of your campaign, or a group of friends you know.
- Readers of your books looking to learn more about the world.
- Game masters looking for an RPG setting or adventures to run.
- Readers who want to immerse themselves into a fictional world.
- Other worldbuilders looking for inspiration.
And while we won’t go deep into monetization here, if you are monetizing your world (or plan to), consider the type of person that would convert from reader to customer. If you really want to go deep into it, you can create a “user persona”, a fictional profile that represents the kind of person that would read your world. This would help you better understand your target audience, although it’s unnecessary unless you’re looking to monetize your work or build a large fanbase around it.
Use the meta!
To help you with this point, use the meta (i.e. the information about your world that is not part of the world itself). With it, you’ll be able to clearly see what defines your world and, by extension, your audience. Since the meta already has all of the information about the world’s purpose, as well as its genre, tone, and other aspects, you can extrapolate which type of person would enjoy your world. If you don’t have a meta document yet, check out how to get started with the worldbuilding meta!
Before we start actually building your World Anvil homepage, remember that everything in this blog post is more of a guide than a set of rules! Ask yourself how the various tips here can be applied to your world and audience. If you know the sort of people who read your world, you’ll know which of these tips are safe to skip!
2. Open with a pitch: why should they care?
If the homepage is the first impression of your world, your elevator pitch is the first impression of your homepage, the very first thing readers will see. Which means it’s very important to get right! Create one or two opening sentences that explain clearly what the world is all about from the beginning. You can include your genre, your tone, and important plot points or conflicts going on in the world. This is your chance to make your world stand out from the crowd! Here are some examples from World Anvil worlds:
Three-thousand-year-old dead gods roam the planet as husks of their former selves, wandering broken loops of their past lives; they bring danger and ruin, magic and myth.
—Cathedris (by Stormbril)
The pitch above explains the world’s premise (Three-thousand-year-old dead gods roam the planet), the genre (by mentioning magic, myth, and dead gods), and the dark done (by using words like “dead”, “husks”, and “broken”) all in a single sentence! Plus, it lets the reader know that the premise brings danger and, therefore, conflict.
In Culinarypunk, food is magic and magic is food. Set in the world of Culinaria, players take on the roles of adventurers who seek to unite the kingdoms and put an end to culinary conflict.
—Culinarypunk (by Emily Armstrong)
Here the pitch also opens with the premise and immediately lets the reader know that this is an RPG world about adventure. The premise is unique enough to make you want to read at least a little bit more, and expectations about the world’s purpose are immediately set.
So, what makes a pitch good?
We could write an entire blog post about this (in fact, we have—check it out here!), but it boils down to these points:
- Use the proper kind of language. Adapt the language you use to the tone and themes of your world.
- Embrace tropes. If there are buzzwords or common archetypes associated with your genre, use them!
- Keep it simple. Avoid jargon, don’t over-explain, and don’t make it too dense. This is the first contact with your world, after all.
- Answer the three basic questions: where are we, what’s going on, and who are we following?
Check out how to write an elevator pitch for more details and examples about this!
3. Introduce your world: what can your readers expect?
If the pitch worked, your readers should now be willing to keep reading the homepage. So it’s time to expand on the pitch to set up the very fundamentals of the world! But keep in mind that this is not an article—the content here shouldn’t be dense or detailed. Instead, keep things generic (but interesting) and expand on the pitch. Here are some ideas of what you could include:
- What’s your world about, from a meta perspective? Talk to the reader directly to spell out what’s the genre and themes of your world, as well as its core conflict and focus. Look at Cathedris for an example of this.
- Expand on the context of the world: Use a short blurb of prose to explain the context of the world, so that your readers will have at least a general idea of how the articles they read fit together. Check out Vazdimet for an example!
- Have fun with some immersive prose! The homepage is the perfect place to show off. If narrative is an important part of your world, add a bit of prose to the homepage. Take a look at Ethnis for an example, and notice how they add short prose after they introduce the world!
You can be generous with images and other formatting on your World Anvil homepage, but minimize links. New readers don’t know anything about your world, so having links everywhere can be confusing. Leave the links for the call to action, which we’ll talk about next!
4. Add a call to action: where should readers go next?
Ok, so you’ve got your audience interested enough to read the homepage. Congratulations! But now comes the problem: reading worldbuilding articles can be really overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Just try it for yourself: go to any World Anvil world and try to get into it without guidance. So your next mission is to get around this by telling your readers where to go next! This is known as a “call to action” (or CTA if you want to sound like a pro 😎), and there are several ways you can go about it:
- Community: if you are building a community, either on World Anvil or in an external platform (like Discord), encourage your readers to join it. Davina, in her world of Calyria, asks readers to join the community by having them join one of the two sides of the world’s conflict!
Did you know you can add a follow button anywhere on your world? Learn how here!
- Monetization: if this is one of your goals, there should be clear and visible calls to action to your monetization platform of choice. Check out Bonus Action’s Sea of Starlight for an example!
- Worldbuilding content: the most common of the CTAs—take them to your world primer/introduction to learn more about your world. For example, Melior (by TJ Trewin) has a very clear “Start Here” call to action!
To avoid decision fatigue, you should try to keep CTAs to a minimum. If you give your readers too many choices, they might end up choosing none of them! So make sure you prioritize the best CTAs for your world.
5. Format and layout: make it easy to look at
It’s time to talk about how your homepage looks! I’ve hinted at this before, but even though this is the 5th point it’s extremely important! Bad formatting can make your homepage more difficult to read. This is a problem because as the first page your readers will see, the homepage needs to be the easiest one to read! So, here are some tips to take your homepage layout to the next level:
- Avoid text walls: instead, use short paragraphs. Additionally, using a larger font size and narrower paragraphs will improve readability too. The homepage of VISCERIUM (by Bladeswillfall) features various types of paragraphs (including bullet-point lists!) that make it really easy to read.
- Use different text styles: on World Anvil you have alouds and quotes as default containers, and if you are a Guild member you can add even more! Use them to highlight different areas of your homepage. This will break the homepage up into little containers that are easier to process For example, Shattered (by Catoblepon) uses text areas with different styles and colors to make them very distinct.
- Play around with positioning: changing where text appears on the screen by using columns of different widths keeps things interesting. Davina’s Andrawyn is formatted like a newspaper, which immediately makes it super interesting and fun to read!
Now, layout is only one aspect of the visual language of your world. The other one is the style, so let’s take a look at it!
6. Visual style: pretty and thematic!
The colors, shapes, and graphics you use can tell the reader a ton of information about the world (like the genre, tone, themes, and more). And if the homepage is visually appealing, it will be easier to get new readers too! Here are some basic ideas:
- Understand color symbolism: use dark colors for dark worlds, and bright colors for bright worlds. If nature is very important to your world, use green tones, or add neon colors for a cyberpunk world. For example, in Alana (by Tillerz), the color palette, as well as the runic background and the gears in the logo immediately suggest ideas of fantasy, magic, and steampunk!
- And use color theory too! To make the homepage easy on your readers’ eyes, you need to understand which combinations of colors fit together harmoniously. Combine this with the symbolism above and you’ll get the perfect color palette for your world!
- Use images. Reading is way harder than looking at an image, so take advantage of that! Use graphics to communicate what kind of world your readers are getting into. Take a look at kitoypoy’s World of Wizard’s Peak for a great example—images are so important there that they appear even before the pitch!
As you can see from all the examples used in the post, the way a World Anvil homepage looks is just as important as its contents. It can truly make or break your audience’s experience, so take your time with it!
If you can’t or don’t want to use CSS, there are some basic customization options available without CSS. Check out this video to learn about them!
Ready to make your World Anvil homepage with these tips? Grab your hammer and go world build!
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