All About Custom Menus: Quick Tips for Organizing Your Content
You’ve worked hard on building your site, so it’s important to organize your content so visitors can easily find it. Are you making the most of your menu? Here are tips for creating effective navigation on your site.
Tip #1: Display pages that are unique to you or your organization
Not sure what to promote in your menu? Direct visitors to your site’s most important evergreen pages, including your About page or business mission statement, an online store, or your Contact page.
Your menu tabs, however, can go beyond these common examples. On the collaborative Sewcialists blog, the group promotes pages that are specific to their sewing community, including the #WhoWeAre series, which compiles posts that explore the theme of sewing and identity, an FAQ page for contributors, and a list of upcoming sewing themes.
Revisit your theme’s support page for a refresher on its features, including menus.
Create or update a menu at My Site(s) → Customize → Menus and click on Create New Menu or select an existing one. You may use different menus as your site evolves, or may have a theme that allows multiple menus, so give your menus distinct names so it’s easy to identify them. You may also need to specify the location for your menu. Then, click Next and Add Items. In the right panel, choose the page(s) to add to your menu. When you’re done, click Publish.
Tip #2: Direct readers to specific categories
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Custom menus are versatile: you can also include categories. The National Records of Scotland collects, preserves, and produces information about Scotland’s people and history; on its blog, Open Book, the organization mainly displays categories in its top menu, including Records and Archives, Census, and Podcast. Category pages show posts in a single category, which is handy if you want to showcase a popular post series or highlight your favorite work using a special category name (Favorites, Best Of).
To add a category to your menu, return to My Site(s) → Customize → Menus, open the menu you’d like to update, and click Add Items. Then, select Categories. From the available categories listed, choose the category you’d like to show in your menu.
Tip #3: Mix pages, categories, posts, and external links
You can also add tag pages and individual posts to your menu, as well as links to external websites. At Silence Killed the Dinosaurs, illustrator Lucy Grove-Jones displays several pages (including her About, Contact Me, and Support Me pages), two of her popular categories (Comics, Stories), and her Society6 shop (via her Store tab).
Want to add an external link to your menu? Select the menu you’d like to update, click on Add Items, then click on Custom Links. In the field next to URL, enter the link of the website or page you’d like to add. Don’t forget to add the Link Text, which is the label that will be displayed on this menu tab (My Shop, Buy My Book, Donate).
Tip #4: Get creative with menu labels
The best general advice on crafting text for your menu tabs? Be clear and succinct. The label for each tab should be short and sweet but provide enough context so readers know exactly where they’ll go when they click on it.
But if it fits your style, have fun with your menu labels! Show off your personality with bold or offbeat phrases (“Meet the Mastermind” for an About page, “Shower Us with Love” for a Donate page), or follow an overarching theme based on your niche (culinary-related words for a food blog or travel-inspired terms for an expat website).
Creative labels don’t need to be in-your-face — simple, friendly language works just as well. On her blog about life, faith, and growing up, Hannah Brencher uses phrases like “start here” and “get in touch!” for her About and Contact pages, respectively.
To update your menu labels, go to the menu you’d like to edit, click on the down-facing arrow to open an item, and change the text in the Navigation Label field. When you’re finished updating your labels, click Publish.
Tip #5: Organize content with dropdown menus
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You can reorder menu items so the tabs appear exactly how you’d like on your site, and can also group related pages, categories, and other items in dropdown menus.
At Tandem Trekking, Lindsey and Kyle share their love for thru-hiking, backpacking, river rafting, and mountaineering. In their menu at the top left, they’ve created sub-menus under each tab, which you can toggle by clicking on down-facing arrows. Their About section includes nested pages for their site and individual bios, and under Adventure Writing, they highlight categories (The Pacific Coast Trail, The Appalachian Trail, Mountaineering, and River Rafting).
In My Site(s) → Customize → Menus, reorder menu items by dragging and dropping them within the list, or by clicking Reorder and using the arrows to move them.
Tip #6: Add multiple menus
Many themes support more than one menu and display them in different locations. The Zuki theme, for example, supports three custom menus — two in the header and one for social links at the bottom — which you can see on Nidhi Bothra’s site for vegetarian recipes, Naturally Nidhi.
Nidhi uses the main menu under her site title and tagline to showcase her categories (Breakfast, Appetizers, Lunch, Desserts, Drinks) and the menu at the top right to display evergreen content like her blog and About and Contact pages.
Go to My Site(s) → Customize → Menus → View All Locations to confirm the menu locations that your theme supports.
Learn better with video? Here’s a quick overview on custom menus:
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