Basics of Navigation

A couple of simple questions. How are your readers going to get around on your site? How do they navigate their way through a pile of posts?

Another simple question. When you go to a site, how do you find what you’re looking for?

These questions are indeed simple but you can’t stray from the purpose of your site, and that purpose is to display content so that readers can find it.

It’s easy to get caught up in how a site looks. And it’s easy to forget that visitors are looking for information. Give them clear navigation tools.

Let’s look at the four navigation tools we have in WordPress.

The Menus

The Menu is a navigation bar to help your readers get round easily and to find what they want in a jiffy. WordPress has an easy to use mechanism for introducing customised navigation. You have (usually) two menus. One for across the top of the page and one for going down the side of the page. (Or perhaps you want to put your second menu, if it’s short, in a Footer)

The Categories

You sort your posts into categories. When you have clearly labelled categories, your readers can find an interesting piece of information, and then they can easily find more posts in that same category. They can see your categories in a Menu, and at the bottom of the post that they’ve just read.

The Tags

When your post is tagged clearly, the reader can find additional information on a sub-topic inside your categories. A tag is an excellent navigational tool for finding smaller topics, for narrowing down the reader’s search. The tag can be seen at the bottom of a post.

The internal link

Some posts can be closely related to another post. Of course all posts in a same category are closely related. All posts with the same tag are closely related. The internal link is an older form of internal navigation but one which is still effective. I highly recommend linking your posts internally.

Remember, all of these navigational tools aren’t just pretty design, navigation is to help the reader.