Top 5 mistakes in your navigation menu: This is how to prevent them!

The menu structure of your WordPress website is very important for both visitors and search engines. With this article, you can improve the main navigation of your website in a few simple steps. We’re talking about the most important menu at the top of your WordPress website. Are you ready for the do’s and don’ts?

Five mistakes in the navigation of your WordPress website

Mistake #1: Generic names for menu items

When I talk to customers about a new menu navigation, I usually show their homepage and cover everything but their navigation menu with my hands. I read the menu out loud and ask them: what is this website offering and to whom? There’s usually a silence. After your logo, the navigation menu is the first thing a visitor reads on your website. An excellent opportunity to show important information here. That is why instead of ‘Our services’ or ‘What we do’ we use the terms ‘WordPress Development’ and ‘Hosting & Maintenance’. When choosing the right terms, think of what the customer is looking for, instead of what your organization wants to say. Also check out our tips at the bottom of this blog.

Mistake #2: Too many items in your navigation

Limit the number of items in your navigation. A maximum of 7 is a good guideline, but less is even better. Personally, we only have four. Other options:

  • Make a short menu of, for example, three items. The last item being a menu button called ‘More’, that contains a drop-down menu with all the other, less important options
  • Use a secondary menu next to the main menu
  • Or both, see screenshot:

Mistake #3: Menu with an odd style

A menu with an unusual style is very common. Think of these mistakes:

  • Bad contrast between the menu items and the background, for example menu items that are shown on a colorful picture that makes it unreadable.
  • Hamburger menu on a desktop. We usually advise against this, because it adds an additional click, before your visitor gets to the relevant information. Except for a landing page where you want to show as little distraction as possible, and you choose to focus on just one action.
  • Bad responsive menu, that doesn’t come out well on smaller screens like tablets and mobile phones. (Tip: look at your website on all devices with Browserstack)
  • Odd location, for example when your main menu is not situated horizontally at the top or vertically at the left-hand side of your page (but in another creative place, without this making any sense or being a deliberate choice).

Mistake #4: Wrong order

Items at the top or bottom of a list are the most effective. Navigation is no exception to this. In psychology there’s the term ‘serial position effect’, which describes the tendency of a person to most remember the first and last items on a list. So, place your most important menu items at the top and your least important ones in the middle.

Mistake #5: Complicated drop-down menus

You’ve probably seen this: drop-down menus containing more drop-down menus, that make it impossible for you to click on the item you want. Just don’t do it! Live on the edge and try not using a drop-down menu at all. Why? Because you’re causing a choice overload, by confronting your visitor with more choices after they’ve just made a choice in the main menu. And yes, we’ve got some learning to do ourselves in this area ????

Five tips to improve your menu navigation

These where the things we often see go wrong in navigation menus of WordPress websites. But then what? How can you do it right? We give you five tips to improve the navigation of your WordPress website:

Tip #1: Take a visitor’s perspective

When naming your menu items, look at it from the visitor’s perspective and not your own (or that of your organization). When selling products, consider using the most important products or product categories as navigation. When providing services, try to name them. It can be helpful to use your target groups as navigation items. What will help your visitor to a better navigation?

Tip #2: Remember the search engines

When creating your main navigation, you also give an incredible amount of information to search engines about the structure of your website. This is why it can be a good idea to include your most important services and/or products in the navigation. Because with this, you’re saying: “Look, Google, this is what I have to offer”.

Tip #3: Remove the ‘Home’ button

The ‘Home’ button is not necessary in the main navigation. By far, the most internet users get that they can click on the company’s icon to go to the homepage. But keep your target group in mind: for an older target group we do recommend you leave the home buttons, because they are very used to them, and are very attached to the buttons they’re familiar with.

Tip #4: Put the call-to-action in your menu

In the end, your website is there to convince your visitors to do something. For example, to subscribe to something, order a product, request a quotation, to donate or to contact you. Put this action in your menu, because that is the way you want to lead your visitors. You’ll find good example, here below:

Tip #5: Make your menu visually attractive

When you sell various products on your website and you have a target group that is visually oriented, it can be very effective to include images of these products in your menu. Do you offer a service? Then icons are often very suitable. An example of Sony:

Bonus tip: Use WordPress to simply change your main navigation

Did you know you can easily change your main menu in WordPress? Check out our special WordPress Menu Manual!

Conclusion

There is usually lots of room for improvement in a main navigation. Do you have any good tips or ideas for this? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in a comment below.

5 WordPress tips you (possibly) did not know

At WpUpgraders we work with WordPress every day. And every day, we try to keep each other on our toes by sharing new tips and discoveries about WordPress with each other. We also like to share these things on our blog. So, here we have five tips for WordPress you (possibly) did not know.

1. Two-factor authentication for WordPress

Many people are still using unsafe passwords on the internet. This increases their chances of being hacked enormously, because hackers can easily find out your passwords through automated guessing. Two-step verification demands two actions before successfully signing into your account, for example, using a password and entering a code you have on your phone. So if a hacker where to ever guess your password, he would still be unable to sign in, because he would need your phone for the second step.

You can get two-factor authentication for WordPress for free with the Google Authenticator plugin. On your smartphone you install the Google Authenticator App, which generates the code you need to enter after logging in. After having completed these two steps, you get access to the WordPress admin. There’s a payed alternative for Google Authenticator called Duo.

2. Selecting several messages or pages at once

Sometimes you have to select a whole list of messages or pages in WordPress at once, to edit or remove them. Did you know you can select more

than one message at the time by pressing and holding SHIFT? Then you press and hold CTRL (or CMD on a Mac) which allows you to check and uncheck individual messages.

This way you can quickly move several messages or pages to trash at the same time.

3. Ping-o-matic

Maybe you’ve never heard of Ping-o-matic, but every WordPress user is using this free service. It informs search engines when you publish a message or page. This way, search engines can include your update in their search results almost immediately after you’ve posted it.

But you don’t always want this to happen right away. Maybe you want it to be included in the search results a bit later. In this case, it’s good to know that you can easily deactivate these notifications to Ping-o-matic. In WordPress you go to Settings > Writing and you remove the address http://rpc.pingomatic.com/ from the text field below ‘Update Services’.

Please note that you only prevent your messages from being sent to search engines immediately. Your messages will still be indexed, but at a later time (because search engines also visit your website on their own). Do you not want your website to appear in the search results at all? Then go to Settings > Reading and check the box at the bottom: ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’.

4. Preview your Widgets and Menus

When editing a blog or page, you can click on ‘Customize’ to see a preview of what your changes are going to look like, before publishing them and making them visible to visitors. But how do you do this with Widgets and Menus?

Since WordPress 4.3 it’s possible to preview the changes you’ve made to your Menus and Widgets. In WordPress, go to Appearance > Customizer to see your website with an extra sidebar on the left. You can just click through your website; the sidebar stays visible. In the Customizer, you click on Menus or Widgets and make the changes you want to make. You immediately see the effect of the changes you’re making to your website. When you are satisfied with the result, you click on ‘Save’, after which your changes will be published.

5. Pasting hyperlinks in a text

When you write many blogs, you will probably sometimes link to other websites. The usual way to do this in WordPress is by selecting the desired part of the text, clicking on the link icon, entering the URL, and clicking on ‘Add link’. But did you know there is a faster way?

Usually you’ve already copied the URL to which you want to direct your reader. Now select the text you want to use as a link and press CTRL-V (or CMD-V on a Mac).

Your selected text will now become a link to the address you had copied earlier. Easy peasy!

Do you have any good tips? Please tell us below!

Google penalizes pop-ups: Here are 3 WordPress alternatives

Are you used to grabbing visitors’ attention on your WordPress website through pop-ups? Well, you may want to take note of the fact that Google will penalise these so-called ‘intrusive popups‘ in its search results as from january the 10th, 2017. Especially when you set up intrusive pop-ups that are almost screen filling on mobile devices, you’d better find alternative ways to attract your visitors’ attention before January 10, 2017. Read more