A Navigation Menus in WordPress is the map that guides visitors through your site. It’s the first thing people see when they land on your page, and it can make or break their user experience.
A well-designed menu is easy to use, intuitive, and helps visitors find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. A poorly designed menu can be confusing, frustrating, and lead visitors to abandon your site altogether.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to design menu structures for different types of websites. We’ll provide tips for creating menus that are simple, easy to navigate, and visually appealing. We’ll also discuss how to use images to enhance your menus and make them more user-friendly.
By following these tips, you can create a website navigation menu that will help you achieve your marketing goals.
Here are some additional benefits of having a well-designed menu:
- Improved user experience
- Increased website traffic
- Higher conversion rates
- Better search engine ranking
Images can be a great way to enhance your website’s navigation menus. They can make your menus more visually appealing and easier to use.
For example, you can use images to:
- Illustrate menu categories
- Highlight important menu items
- Break up text and make your menus more scannable
When you run WordPress, one of the most important things to consider is your user experience. A big part of this is creating navigation menus, so that users are always able to find the content they’re looking for on your site.
The more easily users can find information, the longer they’ll spend on your WordPress site.
The reason that so many business owners choose to build their site using WordPress is its ease of use. The main selling point is that you can essentially build a modern, professional looking website with very little skill.
This extends to creating effective navigation menus. But first, let’s cover some theory.
What is a Navigation Menu?
Essentially, a navigation menu is a piece of HTML which gives users buttons to allow them to find and access key pages on your site. Most often, this is located at the top of the page. You’ll also often find menus at the bottom or sides of websites.
Some menus are more advanced than others. For example, a very basic menu might only point to the 3-4 main subdomains on your WordPress site.
Others have more advanced features. For example, when a user hovers over the button for a section of your site, they might be presented with a dropdown list of all the main pages under that subdomain.
Often a full-size menu is displayed when a user first lands at the top of a page, but this transforms into a condensed version as they scroll down.
Now that you know what a menu is, and some of the key features, let’s look at how to create a menu in WordPress.
Table of Contents
How to Create Navigation Menus in WordPress
Step 1: Where to Create a WordPress Navigation Menu
The first step when creating a new menu is to find the right part of your admin panel. You will need to customise your theme to do this. So to start off making a new menu you will need to go to customise in the personalise section.
The below image will show you this:
The above image is the control panel of your site. You need to go to the bottom, where it says personalise and then customise. When you click here you will be brought to the next panel. This will bring you to the control of your theme.
Step 2: Choosing Menu Under the Theme Control Panel
At this point, you may be thinking that this sounds a little bit too technical, especially when it comes to theme customisation. However, adding a menu to your WordPress site isn’t that hard, so don’t get disheartened.
The next step to creating your new menu on your site is within the theme panel. In this panel there are 10 options. The option we need is menus. This will bring you to the menu panel. Here you can start adding and customising site menus.
Under the widgets option, you’ll also be able to add menus into the sidebars across your site.
Step 3: Creating a Navigation Menu in WordPress Site
Once you are in the menu panel of your theme, you will find a panel like the one above. All you need to do when you are here is to click on the create new menu button. You’ll also be presented with your existing menus, which can be implemented across your whole site or certain groups of pages.
In this example, the menu is simply called ‘test’ as there will only be one menu for navigation on the site apart from the categories, which can be found under the blog subdomain.
You also can place your new menu, in one of a few places. Within this theme there are only two menu locations, but some themes also allow you to place additional menus across your site, for instance in side bars, or embedded on product pages.
The primary menu is the main navigation bar, which includes all the pages of our example site. For this menu we have included it as part of the social links, which will be talked more on later in the tutorial.
Step 5: Adding Links to your WordPress Navigation Menu
The next step is to add links to your new menu. Without links in your menu, there would be very little point in having one at all.
Having links is the whole purpose of having a menu. To add links all you need to do is click on the ‘Add items’ button seen in the screenshot above. You will then be brought to a panel to add different links.
It’s crucial that these are kept up to date if you ever update the URLs of the main pages on your site. You may be tempted to do this using permanent redirection, but it’s a much better option to update your menu links manually.
Redirections can cause a poor user experience, by slowing down your site’s load speeds. Additionally, having too many redirections on your site can be bad for SEO. Using redirections in your menus will mean that they are present on every page on your site.
This can result in poor search engine rankings. Manually updating links doesn’t take long, so there really isn’t an excuse for failing to do it.
Step 6: Choosing your Menu Items
When creating a new menu, you should already know what you want to include in it. This includes which pages, posts, and social profiles you’d like your users to find most easily. The goal is to funnel them to the content which is best positioned to meet your goals.
This is essential as you can create your menu very easily then and will not have to keep on editing your new menu. It is also easier to create your menu if all the parts of the new menu are completed and published on your site.
This is probably the most important step. It’s where your new menu all comes together. You can add pages, categories, tags and posts to your new menu. This means you can tailor the menu to what you would like it to be.
Once you have created the right new menu for your site it is time to publish it. To do this all you need to do is click the ‘publish’ button at the top of the panel.
Step 7: Using your WordPress Navigation Menu
Once you have created a menu the next step is to see the test it and make sure it works the way you expected. You’ll recall from earlier that our example menu is placed in the social footer section of the site
This means that social links are located within the footer of the site, and you will see this in the below image.
We have circled our new menu in the social links part of the site. The theme we are currently using for this tutorial only offers this one additional menu excluding the main navigation. Your theme may allow you to have more menus.
Once you’re satisfied that the menu looks the way you want it to, you should then click through all of the links in it one by one, to ensure that they lead to the correct page on your site, or the right social media profile.
Specifically, you’re looking for menu buttons which lead to the wrong URL, or bring up a 404 error. In either case, you can fix this by repeating steps five and six, and ensuring that you have entered the correct URL for each of your menu items.
A guide to designing menu structures for different types of websites:
blog website with a horizontal menu featuring main navigation categories like Home, About, Blog, and Contact.
Blogs typically have a simple and straightforward menu structure. The main navigation menu should include the following:
- Home: The homepage is the most important page on a blog, so it should be easy to find.
- About: The About page tells visitors about the blog and its author.
- Blog: The Blog page lists all of the blog posts.
- Contact: The Contact page provides information on how to contact the blog author.
In addition to the main navigation menu, blogs may also have a sidebar menu that includes additional information, such as:
- Categories: Categories are a way to organize blog posts by topic.
- Archives: The archives list all of the blog posts by date.
- Search: The search bar allows visitors to search for specific blog posts.
Business website with a vertical sidebar menu featuring main navigation categories like Home, About, Services, Products, Blog, and Contact.
Business websites typically have a more complex menu structure than blogs. The main navigation menu should include the following:
- Home: The homepage should clearly communicate the business’s value proposition.
- About: The About page provides information about the business, its history, and its mission.
- Services: The Services page lists all of the services that the business offers.
- Products: The Products page lists all of the products that the business sells.
- Blog: The Blog page is optional, but it can be a great way to share thought leadership and attract potential customers.
- Contact: The Contact page provides information on how to contact the business.
In addition to the main navigation menu, business websites may also have a dropdown menu that includes additional information, such as:
- Company: This dropdown menu may include links to pages about the company’s history, leadership team, and awards.
- Resources: This dropdown menu may include links to whitepapers, case studies, and other resources.
- Support: This dropdown menu may include links to FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and contact information for customer support.
ecommerce website with a horizontal mega menu featuring main navigation categories like Shop, About, Blog, and Contact.
E-commerce websites have a menu structure that is designed to help visitors find the products they are looking for. The main navigation menu should include the following:
- Shop: The Shop page is where visitors can browse and purchase products.
- About: The About page provides information about the store, its history, and its mission.
- Blog: The Blog page is optional, but it can be a great way to share product reviews, style guides, and other content that is relevant to the store’s target audience.
- Contact: The Contact page provides information on how to contact the store.
In addition to the main navigation menu, e-commerce websites may also have a dropdown menu that includes additional information, such as:
- Shop by Category: This dropdown menu allows visitors to browse products by category.
- Shop by Brand: This dropdown menu allows visitors to browse products by brand.
- Shop by Sale: This dropdown menu lists all of the current sales and promotions.
- Account: This dropdown menu allows logged-in users to manage their account information, order history, and wishlist.
- Keep your menus simple and easy to navigate. Visitors should be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
- Use clear and concise menu labels. Avoid using jargon or technical terms.
- Use visually appealing menus. Your menus should be eye-catching and easy to read.
- Use a consistent menu structure across your entire website. This will help visitors to find their way around your site.
By following these tips, you can design menu structures that will help your website visitors find the information they are looking for quickly and easily.
Optimizing Menu Placement and Visibility for Optimal User Experience
The placement and visibility of your website’s navigation menu play a crucial role in shaping the user experience. A well-placed menu is easily discoverable and guides visitors seamlessly through your site’s content, while a poorly placed or obscured menu can lead to confusion, frustration, and ultimately, increased bounce rates.
Strategic Menu Placement
- Consider the Typical User Journey: Analyze the typical user flow on your website to determine the most logical placement for the navigation menu. For instance, if users typically start by exploring the homepage, placing the menu there ensures easy access from the outset.
- Balance Prominence and Accessibility: Strive for a balance between prominence and accessibility. The menu should be prominent enough to catch the user’s eye without being overly intrusive or obstructing content.
- Consistency Across Pages: Maintain consistency in menu placement throughout the website. This consistency helps users develop a mental map of your site, making navigation more intuitive.
Enhancing Menu Visibility
- Visual Distinction: Make the menu visually distinct from the surrounding content. Use contrasting colors, fonts, and spacing to clearly differentiate the menu from the main content area.
- Highlight Important Menu Items: Employ visual cues to draw attention to key menu items. Consider using icons, bolder fonts, or subtle color changes to emphasize these items.
- Responsive Design: Ensure the menu adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices. Responsive design ensures optimal visibility and usability across various platforms.
- Hover Effects and Feedback: Implement hover effects and subtle feedback to provide visual cues when users interact with the menu. This enhances user engagement and reinforces the menu’s interactivity.
- Accessibility Considerations: Adhere to accessibility guidelines to ensure the menu is usable by all users, including those with visual impairments. This includes providing adequate color contrast, alternative text for images, and compatible keyboard navigation.
- Menu Size and Structure: Keep the menu structure simple and avoid overcrowding it with too many items. Categorize items logically and consider using dropdown menus for more complex navigation hierarchies.
- Mobile Optimization: Pay particular attention to menu optimization for mobile devices. Ensure the menu is easily accessible and tappable, and consider using hamburger menus or collapsible menus for smaller screens.
- A/B Testing: Regularly test different menu placements, visibility enhancements, and structural arrangements to identify the most effective configurations for your specific audience and website goals.
Navigation Menus in WordPress FAQ
Q: How often should I review and update my website’s navigation menu?
A: It’s essential to regularly review and update your navigation menu to ensure it aligns with your website’s evolving content, user behaviour, and marketing goals. A periodic review, ideally every 6-12 months, helps maintain the menu’s effectiveness and user-friendliness.
Q: What are some common mistakes to avoid when designing website navigation menus?
A: Common mistakes to avoid include using cluttered or complex menu structures, employing poor color contrast, failing to optimize for mobile devices, and neglecting accessibility considerations.
Q: How can I test the effectiveness of my website’s navigation menu?
A: Utilize A/B testing tools to compare different menu configurations and identify the most effective design for your specific audience. Gather user feedback through surveys or analytics to gain insights into user preferences and navigation patterns.
Q: What are some additional resources for website navigation menu design?
A: Numerous online resources and design guides provide in-depth information on creating effective navigation menus. Consult reputable websites like UX Collective, Nielsen Norman Group, and Web Design Trends for valuable insights and best practices.
Navigation Menus in WordPress Conclusion
Navigating a website should be an effortless and enjoyable experience for users. By incorporating thoughtful design principles, strategic menu placement, and accessibility considerations, you can create a navigation system that guides users intuitively through your website’s content, fostering positive user engagement and contributing to your website’s overall success.
Remember, a well-designed navigation menu is not just about aesthetics; it’s about empowering users to discover your website’s offerings and achieve their goals effortlessly.