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online-business-website-menuYour website’s menu is essential for the success of your business. Your prospective customers use it to find your content, offers, products, and services. They also use it to contact you.

If your menu is confusing or difficult to navigate, you’re losing money and traffic. So I want to explain to you some menu best practices and techniques.

You might think that customizing your menu is difficult, but it really isn’t. I’ll give you some best practices and then explain how to make changes that will increase your success!

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Your menu isn’t the place to be creative. Why is that?

There are conventions — customs — for menus. People expect to find certain items in specific places because that’s where most websites put them. If most people put the Contact link at the top and you put it at the bottom, people will have difficulty contacting you.

Don’t make people search around to find what they want! Make it easy. You do that by following conventions.

There are lots of conventions, but you should look at many websites in your niche to get an idea of what menu names and placement are customary. Here are a few pointers:

  • Every page should have a link to your Home page. The link should say “Home” and it should be the first (left-most) link on your menu. (If your site is in a language that reads from right-to left, the Home link would be on the right.)
  • The main menu should be the same on all pages.
  • There’s flexibility in the order of the other links, but one should be “Contact” and one should be “About.”
  • If you have a blog — and most people should have one — have a link to your blog on the main menu, called simply “Blog.”
  • Be sure to have menu items for your products and/or services and anything else you want people to see.
  • As much as possible, menu items should be one word. You do this so they are easier to read and so menu items don’t run into each other.

Note: You may want to create a few pages without any menus. These pages are usually either sales pages or “squeeze” pages (which require a person to enter a name and email address to get free information).

Set up a custom menu in WordPress

In WordPress, your theme will automatically create a menu from your pages. But it might not be the best menu for your needs. It might be in the wrong order. The menu names might be too long.

So you should probably customize your menu. I teach how to do this in my course. “Create a Website in 1 Hour.,” but here are the basic steps:

  1. In the Dashboard, choose Appearance, Menus.
  2. Enter a name for the menu and click Create Menu.The name is just for you, so it can be anything, like Menu1.
  3. In the Pages section on the left, check all the pages that you want to add to your menu and click Add to Menu.
  4. Drag the items to so that the order is Home, Blog, Contact, About. Click each menu item to edit the label. For example, I like to put “Contact Us” at the top of my Contact page because I think it sounds more friendly than just “Contact,” but I change the label for the Contact Us page to Contact.
  5. On the left, under Theme Locations, Primary Navigation, choose the menu you named. Click Save. Click Save Menu.
  6. Go to your website, refresh and check it out!


Create sub-menus

You might want some sub-menus. Sub-menus drop down from the main menu item. For example, let’s say you have a variety of product types — ebooks, webinar recordings, and self-study courses. You could have a menu item that says “Products.” When people hover over “Products,” a sub-menu with 3 items — ebooks, webinar recordings, and self-study courses — would drop down. These items can have longer names because they aren’t next to other menu items.

Here are the steps for creating a sub-menu:

  1. Create a page for the main menu item, in this case, Products. Then create pages for your sub-menu items.
  2. Add the pages to the menu just like any other pages.
  3. Drag the sub-menu items under the main menu item (Products, in our example)
  4. Then drag the sub-menu items slightly to the right, so that they are indented.

Remove a page title, but keep it on a menu

Have you ever seen a website that had the word “Home” on the home page? It looked silly, didn’t it? But if you delete the word “Home” from the page’s title, it disappears from the menu!

Here’s how to remove the word “Home” from your home page, but keep it on the menu:

  1. Open your home page for editing and delete the page title. Update the page.
  2. In the Dashboard, go to Appearance, Menus. Click the Home page’s item and choose Remove. Without a title, this item may be hard to select, but just click its right side to expand it.
  3. In the Custom Links section, type the URL of your home page and the label “Home.” Click Add to Menu.
  4. If necessary, drag the Home item to the top.
  5. Click Save Menu.

These steps should get your menu in shape! If you have any other techniques to suggest or if you have any questions, leave a comment!

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    2 replies to "How to increase your success with the right website menu"

    • Renata

      I wish I had known about your site before I started working on my coaching business website. It would have saved me a LOT of time.

      I ended up NOT going with WordPress and even though I am pretty satisfied with my site, I have always wondered “what if”. In my opinions, there isn’t enough comparative and unbiased information about advantages and disadvantages of WordPress (template type) websites versus “coding it from scratch” sites.

      I am curious about your point of view.

    • EllenFinkelstein

      Do you use Dreamweaver? I use Dreamweaver for most of my website and it was coded from scratch, except for the blog. I regret it because there are things that I can’t easily change myself, even though I know quite a bit of HTML. It’s the CSS (the styles) that are difficult for me. While WordPress can sometimes be difficult, over all, it’s much easier than an HTML website to maintain yourself.

      But, your site is beautiful! So, it if’s working for you, then don’t worry about it.

      I find that the sites that work least are the haphazard ones — a webhost “create your own site” service mixed together with a Blogger blog — something like that. That kind of site never hangs together well and it really isn’t as functional as it could be. Then, the owner finds it hard to create an opt-in form that delivers a free report. I’ve seen that over and over.

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