Having a fully functional and well-structured website is mandatory if you want to get more traffic and ensure that visitors will keep coming back. This is particularly important for brands and individuals who do their business through their website specifically. We tend to put the emphasis on design and content, while the navigation and ease of use are unfairly neglected.
Since these components are equally important as design and content quality, it is time to make some changes. Creating a user-friendly navigation menu is easy, particularly if you do it through WordPress which offers numerous options you can use.
Things to consider
In order to make sure you create a truly practical, user-friendly navigation menu, you should also consider the following:
Pages that exist within your website – take some time to identify all of them to avoid leaving something out in the menu
Visualize the pages – this is closely associated with the point above; visualize the pages on your website to get a clear idea of how your menu will look like. Even PowerPoint can serve to this purpose
Minimalistic yet practical – when planning the menu, you should keep it minimalistic, but practical at the same time. Keep the amount of clicking necessary for reaching some page to a minimum. There should be about 2-3 levels of navigation within a certain menu only. Everything else is too complicated and difficult to navigate
Location – naturally, menu should be placed in a location that is easy to find
Sticky menu – consider choosing sticky menu, so that regardless of the page visitors open, the menu is still there for them to navigate
Design of your website – although the menu should be practical and easy to navigate, it still has to work perfectly with the design of your website i.e. go for consistency in appearance
Mobile-friendly – nowadays when visitors use their phones more than any other device, it is mandatory to make sure the menu (just like everything else) will be mobile-friendly
What we all love about WordPress is that it offers a wide array of options and features that you can use to customize your website. A vast majority of themes already include Menus module that makes the entire process quite simple. To create an ideal navigation menu with options offered by WordPress you should follow these guidelines:
Go to the Appearance tab
The sidebar to the left of preview will appear, click on Menus
Two options will appear: Menu Locations and Menu Navigation, opt for the latter
Menu Navigation feature allows you to:
Remove pre-defined defaults
Add new pages
Revise the hierarchy structure of pages on your website
Rename menu navigation labels
Define the place of the main navigation on your site
Once you’re done with Menu Navigation, proceed to customize Menu Locations. This tab allows you to set the location where menus will be placed in different sections of the website.
What if the theme doesn’t allow menu customization?
Despite the fact that a vast majority of themes on WordPress allow you to customize just about anything on your website, others don’t. Don’t worry, you can still customize the navigation menu and make it more user-friendly, you just need a different approach.
Additionally, some of us feel the need to have more control over the website’s structure to ensure that content we post and write is easily accessible to visitors. Regardless of the group you belong to (need for more control or absence of menu customizer) these guidelines will help you:
Ensure that all links you want to include into the navigation menu are ready
Go to the Appearance tab
You’ll see two options: Edit Menus and Manage Locations
Start with Edit Menus section; on the left side, you will notice different forms of content from the website. Everything you see in this section can be added to the menu. This is why it is important to have the visual representation of pages you want to add to the navigation Menu. Just look for pages you’d like to have featured in the menu, click the checkbox next to it, and hit the Add to Menu button.
Also, web designer Fred N. Campbell at Assignment Helper gives the advice to add all pages you want to the menu, you can use the drag-and-drop method to rearrange the structure according to your preferences. Once you’re done, click Save.
The Menus tab enables you to create brand new menus as well. For example, if you’d like a different menu to be located in a sidebar, secondary menu, footer, or elsewhere, all you have to do is to select Create a New Menu.
Manage Locations section is self-explanatory; you can use it to place the menu to a specific place, but bear in mind it is easy to find by visitors of your website.
Yet another useful way to create a user-friendly navigation menu is to use plug-ins which feature some options or designs that WordPress doesn’t. So, they give you the ability to get creative and make the navigation menu according to your desires and preferences. Here are some tools to use:
Sticky Menu (or Anything!) on Scroll – allows you to fix the navigation menu to the header. You can set the parameters of minimum and maximum screen size where the stickiness should work
AllWebMenus – menu builder which combines plug-in and add-on to regain info from posts and pages and transfers it to AllWebMenus to automatically create the navigation menu
Max Mega Menu – integrates with the existing WordPress menu, features the drag-and-drop interface for ease of use
WP Jump Menu – helps you add a drop-down menu, ideal for websites that feature a lot of pages, posts, media files
Menu Image – this plug-in allows you to add image to the menu, next to some item and displays it before the text
Nextend Accordion Menu – very customizable, gives you a full control over fonts, colors, menu levels, backgrounds
To ensure visitors will keep coming back to your website, you have to make it user-friendly. This doesn’t just apply to design and content, but menu as well. WordPress allows you to create a navigation menu in different ways depending on your needs and preferences. Start working on your website’s navigation menu today.
Lucy Benton is a specialist in digital marketing and content writing who currently works at Awriter. She focuses mostly on the worlds of technology, gadgets, and the Internet. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on FaceBook and Twitter.