The main page is one of the most important elements of a wiki: It's the front page, the first place a visitor sees after entering the site, one of the most frequently visited pages on the wiki, and a major navigation tool accessible from every page on the wiki by clicking on the wordmark (unless user preferences specify a different landing page).
Editing a main page
The main page is edited just like any other page on the wiki, though it's recommended to use wikitext markup instead of visual editors due to the use of column tags. Column tags structure the front page, separating main page content into a wide left column and a narrow right column that matches the width of the right rail containing links and activity feeds on content pages.
Column tags also help ensure that the design is responsive (i.e. adjusts to the width of the browser window), works across different devices, and that advertisements display seamlessly in the top right corner of the main page, rather than interfering with page content.
Things to consider
When structuring a main page, keep in mind that your goal is to make it a useful tool for navigation, rather than an exhaustive breakdown of every page on the wiki - that's what special pages and categories are for.
While there is no one way to structure a main page, it's worth noting that:
- You can use wikitables to make order from chaos. Tables allow you for breaking up the main page into distinct sections, much like headings on a content page. Their borders also act as a visual guide, making main pages easy to use.
- Images really are worth a thousand words. Using images on the main page can further enhance navigation, by allowing for understanding links at a glance, especially for expansive topics.
- For example, logos or icons can help differentiate front page sections or identify major articles for quick access.
- Main pages are the first step in navigation, not the last. As the gateway to a wiki's content, main pages should provide consistent access to major areas of the wiki, but also remain usable. When deciding what to include on the main page, consider what your users are looking for, the most important articles, and your general wiki structure, then link to them so that users can start with a high-level topic and then explore it in-depth on subsequent pages.
- For example: A user clicks on the Characters link on the main page of a wiki, which leads them to an overview article that describes the topic in general and provides them with links to articles and categories that cover this and related topics in increasing amounts of detail.
- Main pages are not set in stone (and shouldn't be). As your wiki grows, the main page should keep pace. Review its contents from time to time: Does it link to major topics of interest? Does it provide sufficient information about the wiki? The analytics dashboard can be a very useful tool for identifying what interests viewers the most and then adjusting the main page to make these easier to find.
- Variety is good. Beyond images, tables, and links, you have a plethora of additional options to enhance the main page. Galleries, feeds, social media integrations like Discord or Twitter, and more can help add variety to the main page and increase its usefulness for users.
- Above all: Consider what you want to achieve. The best main pages have an overarching goal in mind, related to what the wiki is about. Whether it's access to the most important topics, helping users quickly identify solutions to problems, or connecting them together, a clearly defined purpose allows you to prioritize work on the main page and guide your work as you iterate on the design.
- The system message MediaWiki:Mainpage defines the location of the main page – that is, where users end up when visiting your community via the basic URL (name.fandom.com).
- If you rename your main page via the normal page rename tool, MediaWiki:Mainpage is automatically updated to point to the new location. However, it's a good idea to double check after a move.
- Consider breaking up your main page's content into discrete modules, and then making a separate template for each module. This makes maintenance a lot simpler — and clearer — since you'll be dealing with a single part of the main page at one time, instead of the whole thing!
- Help:Mobile Main Page
- Help:Adding images
- Help:Theme Designer
- Help:Attracting contributors
- Main Pages for Fandom (staff blog about best practices)