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Being a blogger means thinking not only about what you’re writing, but how to present your writing. This is most…

Being a blogger means thinking not only about what you’re writing, but how to present your writing. This is most obvious in your blog’s menu, or navigation bar—without it, visitors to your site would be stuck at a dead end. A well thought-out menu helps to highlight your work and gives your audience an easy way to learn more about you and your projects.

As a Happiness Engineer, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “How can I add posts to pages on my blog?” While it’s true that organizing your posts into certain topics is an excellent way to display the diversity of your writing, it’s actually not possible to add posts to pages. Because posts and pages are two different types of content, they cannot be combined.

Instead, this effect can be achieved with categories. Similar to tags, categories allow bloggers to group certain types of posts together. For example, if you post both recipes and your photography to your blog, you can separate these two topics by using categories. You can then add these category pages to your custom menu so visitors can simply click on a category page to see a full list of all of your posts within a particular category.

If you’re just starting to blog, brainstorming some categories that you might want to use is a great way to step back and plot out the longer-term goals of your writing. If you’ve already been blogging for a while, now may be a good time to revisit the categories you’ve been using and really define your blogging strategy.

In addition to categories, you can also add some other filters to your blog posts to insert as custom links in your menu. For example, if you have a multi-author blog, you can add a link to each of your authors’ pages by adding /author/[username] to the end of your blog URL. Similarly, you can add links to external sites, such as a portfolio and/or your social networking profiles, by using custom links as well.

Your site’s menu is an entryway for visitors to your blog. It contains useful information and is there to highlight your content. Spend some time plotting how you want to lay out your navigation bar. Above all, remember that less can be more. By picking and choosing the links that are most useful to your site’s visitors, you can proactively drive engagement between you and your readers, on and off the blog.

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  1. An early mistake that I made was to treat categories like tags. (I can’t say that I’ve really mastered tagging for effect, but that’s a different issue altogether.) I tried to get to precise with categories and sub-categories. For example, under politics I have subcategories for history, national security, mid-east policy, church and state, and immigration. They’re not necessary. The subs would work just fine as tags and probably draw more readers anyway. Overall, I have something like forty categories. It’s something that I’m going to spend some time cleaning up after the first of the year, but I thought I’d throw it in as a cautionary tale for those getting started.

  2. Even with Categories, Tags and Pages, I do still wish for a better way to display certain posts…
    For instance I would love if if clicking on my Category “step by step tutorials” would produce a drop down menu where I could put in links to all my Recipe tutorials on one said and all my Craft tutorials on another.

    Ideally I’d like it if I could make an extra page that showed all my posts on a given topic a bit like a “contents page” with one photo to illustrate and a link to the post so that readers could see at a glance all the posts in that “group” and not have to scroll through maybe 6 pages of posts.

    I see that I could add a “page” for this but in the Rublic Theme, pages are listed in the sidebar and not as extra “tabs”at the top so it would make my sidebar too cluttered to add it (I love everything ELSE about my theme so don’t want to change theme)

    Is there a way for we “wordpress.com” users to possibly have a set-up option that gives us a choice between having an extra Pages for our blogs show up in the way we think it would suit us best? i.e. as a tab at the top or down the sidebar?

    I’m all for making my blog more navigable,
    Hopefully our behind-the-scenes hero theme-makers can make our wish-list dreams come true to make our blogs even better! :)

  3. An early mistake that I made was to treat categories like tags.
    I think we all do that in the beginning. Once I got the hang of tagging my hit rate climbed. It’s still not as high as I would like but I like to think I’m still learning.

  4. actually, it *is* possible to add posts to pages, but it involves hacking your theme, something most people aren’t willing to do, and with categories and tags it really isn’t necessary…

  5. Thanks you. I have so much to learn. I’ve yet to venture on menu. I did use the categories and its been great. You are right though, ” less is more.” A lot of readers want it simple, including me…. Wishing a happy, memorable holiday.

  6. What I do is attach links to related posts at the end of many of my posts. If readers follow the links from post to post, they may end up at the original blog post. For example, here: http://daisybrain.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/homophonia-or-how-you-spell-things-matters/ is a post that ends with a link to another of my posts that centers on word play. That way, if I catch someone’s interest, they might surf around my blog from post to post with similar themes.

  7. Categories start to run into problems when you have years of posts on your blog. I’ve had increasing numbers of readers complain that they couldn’t readily find particular posts using the Search facility or the Categories menu.

    To make it easier to find recipes, for example, I’ve just created a page to serve as an index to every recipe I’ve published in the past 18 years. It’s a laborious process, plus it’s fairly basic at the moment. What I need to do is work out how I can present the index better, perhaps using tables, while ensuring it’s easy to update, without having to fiddle about every time I have new content to index.

    I have at least 180 recipes to index, plus another 100 plus to post on the blog. And that’s just one small area of my blog—there are thousands of posts that need better accessibility.