WordPress Website Navigation Options - dummies

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

All good WordPress websites provide visitors with an easy way to navigate the different areas of the sites. To provide your visitors with a way to read internal pages and archives and to navigate to a page where they can get in touch with you, you have to provide a menu of links, or a navigation menu.

A navigation menu displays prominently on a website so that your readers don’t have to hunt around to find the information they want.

You can use the built-in Custom Menus feature in WordPress to build menus, which makes it easy to include navigation menus on your site. Your job as a web designer is to determine what type of navigational structure makes sense for your client, or your site visitors, and what kind of information and links you want to include in those menus. Here are the ways to accomplish your navigational structure:

  • A horizontal navigation menu across the top of your site

  • A vertical navigation menu down one side of your site

  • A series of different menus with groupings of related links

  • A horizontal navigation menu in the footer of your site

The possibilities for providing navigation menus to your visitors are really endless, especially with how easy the WordPress platform makes it for you. As a designer developing a site, you need to answer these questions:

  • Should you even have a navigation menu? Some sites don’t require a full navigation menu, particularly if they’re smaller sites with little content or information to offer. However, most websites have more than one page, and you want to provide a method for your site visitors to easily navigate to those pages and back to the home page.

  • Where should you place the navigation menu? A popular location for the navigation menu is near the top of the website, below the website name and/or header graphic. WebDevStudios has a theme that has a horizontal navigation menu (with drop-down menus) prominently displayed below the site header to make it easy for visitors to navigate to the various areas within the site.


  • What links should you include in the navigation menu? You (or your client) should have a good idea of what links and information should be presented in the navigation menu. Generally, you include links to important internal pages (such as an About Me or Contact page), categories or archives, and links to external websites, such as the site’s Twitter or Facebook page.

Before writing a single line of code for the website development, knowing what the navigation structure should include will help you put a plan in place to build and display the navigation menu on the website.

For example, websites with a great number of links for the menu benefit from a horizontal structure with drop-down lists — links that drop down when you hover over the menu titles. Likewise, websites with a small number of links may benefit from a smaller, more compact vertical menu in the sidebar.