Updated on Sep 27, 2019
Having a well-maintained website full of content is great. However, as you add more content to your website, you will need to cater to users searching for specific content more and more. The search function is a great way to do that, but depending on your website, a good navigation menu can do much better. The main thing you should focus on is a simple yet effective structure. Overcomplicating the navigation index will only take away from its functionality.
This tutorial is made with WordPress 5.2.3 and one of the default WordPress themes - Twenty Seventeen.
Not being able to quickly find the thing they are looking for will make visitors annoyed and push them to leave your website. That is especially bad if you monetize your website and your livelihood depends on steady visit numbers and retention rates.
To increase the ease of navigation on your website, we will show you:
The WordPress Menu creation function is located inside the dashboard of the platform so you will need to log in as an admin and navigate to Appearance → Menus.
Once you access the section, write a name for your menu which will help you distinguish it in the dashboard and then select Create Menu.
With this, your menu is created, but as of now, there is nothing in it. In the next step, you will learn more about populating such lists.
The menu interface is split into two sections. The one on the left contains all of your content, including pages, posts, entire categories, and custom links. To add a specific page to your list, you will need to select that page from those listed in this block and press the Add to Menu button.
Past ways of adding Pages as Menu Items
In the past, in some themes, there was an option to add pages to the navigation menu as items and sub-items which was available via the page attribute settings and used the exact order number of each page. However, due to the introduction of more features in the core menu creation interface which applies to all themes, that old way of adding menu items has become obsolete.
You can also add multiple pages at the same time. Don't worry about the arrangement as you can drag and drop to switch the place of each page afterward.
The second section is called Menu Structure, and here you will see the items you added to the menu. Below this you have the Menu Settings:
Changing the label of an already created item might be needed when you only want to make the change in the menu but not change the name of the actual element. This feature works great for pages and posts. If you change the name of a page, that page in the menu will also change its label automatically.
To make a change to an item, click on the arrow button of that item and you will see detailed information for it. Note that while and after changing the label, you will still be able to see the original name of that element.
Completely removing the entire item without affecting the rest of the navigation structure can also be done via the same interface. Click on the Remove button at the bottom of the Item section to erase that item from the menu and don't forget to hit the Save button when you are done.
Creating multi-level menus allow you to add better defined and detailed structure to your website. Of course, as the elements need to be formatted to show their hierarchy, a drop-down arrow is added when displayed in horizontal lines. Transforming a standard index to a multi-level one is very easy and can be done just by moving its items a bit.
In the Menu Structure section, drag the item below and to the right of the subject which you want to parent it. Doing so will automatically change the property of that item to a sub-item or child item to the parent under which it is situated.
You can also add sub-items of sub-items, but that feature is limited to a few layers in most themes and not even present in others.
Adding a menu to the sidebar will improve your website's user experience especially if you have lengthy pages. In those cases, users will have to scroll up or down to get to the header or footer lists. However, with a sidebar, especially a sticky one, navigation will be much quicker. For a floating functionality for your sidebar, please check the WP Sticky Sidebar plugin.
To add a menu to your sidebar, you will need a widget so navigate to Appearance → Widgets.
Here you can drag a Navigation Menu item from the list. Alternatively, you can click on the widget's arrow and select to which section to assign it.
Once placed, you will be able to title the widget and select the menu which you want to display in the sidebar. Save the widget to display it on your site.
The menu widget which you created will now be visible to your visitors.
Deleting menus is easy enough but should be done with caution, especially if you have spent a lot of time making that menu in the first place. Also, you should make sure to differentiate the delete menu and delete menu item functions to save yourself the trouble of re-creating entire menus.
To remove a menu, access that menu and click on the Delete Menu button at the bottom left corner of the Menu Structure section.
You will be prompted with a confirmation window just in case. So if you are sure you want to proceed with the erase process, click OK.
Once you have completed this tutorial, you will gain the knowledge on how to reduce your bounce rate by making relevant information for your users easy to access. Menus are a great way to do this and one of the most underestimated elements of a website.