Building a well-organized menu for your site can help visitors find your content easily and quickly.
We recently talked about the importance of organizing links on your site in a way that directs readers to the content you want to them to discover (and that they most likely want to see). Today, let’s add another layer of order to our blog by thinking through a crucial navigation tool: the menu.
Time to go à la carte
When you go to a restaurant, the menu sets your expectations and lets you plan your meal. The dishes are (usually) grouped into some sensible categories. Their order establishes a pace and a sequence to your visit. The ingredient and price information ensures you don’t die from the peanuts in the sauce (or the surprise of an extravagant bill).
Likewise, your blog’s menu can structure a reader’s visit. Take a look at ours:
Here at The Daily Post, our menu allows you to reach some of our most popular content — our weekly challenges, blogging challenges, and daily prompts, for example — with one click.
If you’re using one of the 250+ themes featuring a Custom Menu, you, too, can decide which pages, category pages, and custom links your menu includes (and in what order). This lets your readers find important information more easily.
If you’ve created several menus, you can compare them and test them out in real time by going to the Menus panel in the Customizer.
To set up your menu in the dashboard, head to Appearance → Menus,
where you can create a menu or edit an existing one. You can also create sub-menus by dragging any item onto the menu item under which it will be nested.
The menu as shortcut
If your comment moderation policy is especially important to you, it can go in a page which you’ll then add to your menu. If you’d like to offer an easy way for readers to contact you, drop your contact info (or a contact form) in a new page, and add it to your menu.
Remember that overloading the menu is a bad idea, though, as it beats the purpose of focusing your readers’ attention on what matters most. Keep it only to things that warrant easy access and increased visibility.
Highlighting today’s (or yesterday’s) specials
The other main function of your menu is to lead visitors to the content you want them to see — especially if it’s older posts from your archives, which they might not have been exposed to before.
Creating a “Best of” page, or a category page (or two) where you compile all your posts on your blog’s main topic, could be an effective way to resurface your evergreen content.
Just as important for those of you who are building a presence across multiple platforms, a menu could be the place where you invite your audience to explore your content on other outlets. Whether it’s your Pinterest profile, an Etsy shop, or something else, a link in the menu can help you consolidate your online presence around your WordPress.com hub.
For example, in the menu of thehours, above, you can find links to the site’s pages on several other platforms, including Flickr and Instagram.
Consider testing different menu layouts: it’s a good idea to ask for feedback from a few trusted friends, or solicit reactions on our weekly Community Pool.
Whatever you end up including in your menu should flow naturally from your site’s overall design. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes: what content would you want to be able to find with a click? What content are you most likely to engage with? That’s the content that belongs in your menu.
How did you design your menu? Do you have any advice to share? We’d love to hear your input.