Adding Navigation to Your Website

The navigation available to you depends upon your chosen theme.  Most themes have primary navigation towards the top of the page or else in a sidebar.  Secondary navigation may be in drop-down menus, in a second menu that appears below the first when you select a page in the primary menu or elsewhere on the page, usually in a sidebar.  Once you’ve chosen your theme you don’t have to use all the available menus but it’s sometimes difficult to add more navigation options.

Some themes provide additional navigation, eg they showcase (usually 3) key pages on the home page.  If you have a few major issues, products or services, this may help visitors navigate the site.

Last time, I mentioned the type of wireframe that can show relationships between pages on your site, your designer uses it to plan your navigation.  You need to decide which pages are in primary and which in secondary navigation.

As your site grows, you can add to navigation, although if the site becomes very large you may have to re-think your site structure.  A designer or consultant will be able to help you do this.

Setting Up a Menu

If you click in “Appearance” in wp-admin and then on menus, you can see how to build and edit menus.  You can

  • create new menus
  • add and remove items from them and add or remove secondary or even tertiary items (you can go beyond this but really?)
  • assign menus to the various locations available in your theme.

Make sure the words in the tabs are clear both in terms of meaning and appearance.  Contrast should be good in the following modes.

  • Unvisited – the pages you are not on should all be in the same font, colour, etc and be easy to read.
  • Hover – the word should intensify in some way when the user hovers over it.  A good way is to reverse text and background, so black text on white background becomes white text on black background
  • Active – this was important when machines were slower but these days is rarely noticeable; a colour change appears when you click the link and before the new page comes up.
  • Visited – behaves in different ways.  Sometimes this colour change applies when you’re on the page, so that you can look at the navigation and tell where you are.  For links in the text, the colour change can persist so you can see which links you’ve visited.

You need to check all this out with your designer / consultant.  What additional aids to navigation do you like to see on a site?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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