A navigation menu is a group of links that lead users to the essential content of your website, such as About, Contact, and Services. Featured on all your pages, it’s used to help visitors explore your site easily.
Read this article to find out its purpose and what types of menus are commonly used. Plus, I’ll show you how to create a menu on WordPress and some tips to optimize it.
Why Use a Navigation Menu?
Also called a navigation bar, a navigation menu is a must-have if you want to provide a good user experience. Without one, visitors will have a difficult time looking for the information they seek from your website.
Every site has different menu items on the navigation bar. But generally, it would consist of links to the homepage, About page, contact information, categories of content, and the features available.
For instance, The Smart Passive Income displays top navigation that directs users to their profile, podcast, contact page, and resources. This menu is shown on all of its pages, so users can access the site’s important links at any time.
Most large websites create primary and secondary navigation menus for better organization and presentation. Usually, the first one would contain links you want visitors to click first, while the latter would lead them to additional sections.
For example, Lyft has two menus on their homepage. The uppermost will direct users to the most crucial information about driving, riding, and partnering with the app. Since it’s displayed on top, they will instantly grab people’s attention.
On the other hand, the links on the bottom provide extra content you can access to get to know their business and services better. They are not featured on top to avoid cluttering the header.
Common Types of Navigation Menus
With the development of web design, people have become more creative in displaying their navigation links.
The most popular type is probably the top horizontal menu, which is frequently used thanks to its simplicity and versatility. It can be full-width, aligned to the left, right, or center.
To add more functionality, some websites would also use a drop-down feature to show sub-menu items, like on eBay’s homepage.
In contrast to the top horizontal menu, many sites also use their footer to feature an additional menu so that users can continue exploring the pages after reaching the bottom. You can find this type of menu on HostingWiki.
Now, with the rise of one-page websites, sticky menus are increasingly more common. It is a fixed horizontal or vertical bar that would follow users as they scroll down a page. With this, visitors won’t need to move back up to locate the links.
Hamburger menu, meanwhile, is commonly found on mobile sites. When the three-line icon is clicked, a menu would slide out and show the navigation links.
How to Create a Navigation Menu on WordPress
If you’re a WordPress user, making a menu is simple.
That said, keep in mind that you can only display a menu on designated areas in your WordPress theme. Additionally, you can also feature it on widget-ready areas.
Follow these steps to create your own menu:
- Head to Appearance -> Menu on your dashboard.
- In the Menu Structure, fill in the name of the menu and press the Create Menu button.
- To Add Menu Items, mark checked on the Pages, Posts, or Categories that should be featured. You may also include Custom Links. Once done, click Add to Menu.
- Configure each menu item by clicking the downward arrow on the right. You may edit the Navigation Label, Title Attribute, CSS Classes, Link Relationship, and the Description. What’s more, you can choose whether the link opens in the same or new tab.
- To rearrange the order, drag and drop each menu item. You may also assign an item as a sub item by putting it below its parent and moving it to the right.
- In the Menu Settings, choose whether to add new pages automatically to the menu. Don’t forget to tick on the Display location options to choose where the menu should appear.
- Once you’re done, Save Menu.
Need to add the menu you’ve just created to a widgetized area? Here’s what you can do:
- On the dashboard, go to Appearance -> Widgets.
- Drag the Navigation Menu widget to one of the areas.
- Select the name of your menu and insert a title if needed.
- Press Save.
If you want more customization options, WordPress has various plugins that can take your site menu to the next level.
Tips for a Good Navigation Menu
To optimize your navigation menu, consider following these tips:
- Make it familiar — use one of the common menu types so that people can immediately interact with your navigation bar.
- Use concise labels — clearly and briefly describe what the user will find when they click on the link. Don’t use more than one to three words.
- Let visitors know which section they are at — try underlining or coloring the label to reminds users of where they are on your site.
- Add a call-to-action button — since most visitors will probably look for a navigation menu, including a CTA button here can potentially increase conversion rates.
A navigation menu is a group of links that lead to important sections of your site. It eases users in scouring through your content to find their desired information. Some common types of navigation menus are the top horizontal, sticky, hamburger, and footer. However, there are many other kinds that you can find.
For WordPress users, you can create a menu by going to Appearance -> Menu on the dashboard. All you need to do is name the new menu, add menu items, configure the settings, and select the display location. You may also feature it in other widgetized areas.
When making a navigation bar, don’t forget to make it familiar, use concise labels, and let visitors know where they’re currently at. If possible, consider including a call-to-action button as well.