There are a lot of areas of your blog that can call to be polished: quality content, having a good about page, making your social presence easily available in the sidebar, etc.
But what about all the old content? Does it just go to the blog archives to die?
If you don’t have a good menu to show your readers what content is available and how to quickly locate it, those posts may just end up in the archive graveyard that is your old posts. I’m pretty sure no blogger wants that after all the hard work they put into crafting those posts!
So, where do you start? Here’s 4 tips to create a menu that you will enjoy and will help your readers read more than just your most current posts.
1. Menu Location
Depending on the layout you have, there may be many locations for your blog menu to hang out all day. Some layouts have an option to have one menu at the very top and one after a header image. There are even menus that can be placed after the content on the bottom. There are certainly a lot of ways to go about this.
Right now, I have the option to use 2 menus that could be seen “above the fold,” but I’ve chosen to go with just one. I have just enough content to fit into one menu. If I split it into two, it didn’t look like I had enough tabs on the menu.
It all depends on how you want to organize your menu too. One menu could be general pages such as the about page, contact, etc. The second menu could be your most common blog topics such as recipes, workouts, parenting articles, and What I Ate Wednesday posts.
No matter how many menus you have, you want to make sure your menu is always visible above the fold. It should be in a logical place that fits within the rest of your layout. By logical, I mean, it isn’t so high at the top that no one notices it, or so far down on the page that you have to scroll a lot to get to it. The menu should be centralized under a blog header or image, if you have one.
2. Menu Content
So, your menu(s) is in a good place. But what goes on it? Everything? Just important things? And how do you organize it?
This is totally up to you. I’ve seen blogs where literally everything that has ever been on their blog is featured in the menu. I’ve also seen blogs (more like mine) where the blogger’s favorite content or topics that the blog is known for are featured in the menu.
I would advise to the latter option for two reasons: you don’t have to update all the pages on your menu as often and you don’t overwhelm your readers. Readers are most likely going to use a menu to locate popular topics that fit into larger categories, but not search for every random thing you’ve ever written.
Some possible categories are:
- Recipes, with a page for each type of recipe (dessert, main dishes, etc.)
- Paleo/Vegetarian/Other special diet
If you have no idea where to start with what to include in your blog menu, try to define your top 5 most common themes or post topics. Each blog menu will look different based on what you write about. I defined my most popular topics as blogging, fitness related posts, and recipes.
But you’ll also see more than just those in my menu. Why? Because that’s what I want my readers to view. You can use your menu as a tool to direct visitors to the content you want them to see. I also included pregnancy, reviews, and series posts. These are not my most viewed posts, but if someone wants to find a review, they probably never would unless they used the search function. By including this item in my menu, I show visitors that I have reviews available and make it super easy for them to check them out if they want.
3. Keep it Current
When constructing your menu, remember that you will have to update it when new content is added. A reader once asked me in the past how I get all my blog tips on the blog tips page. Apparently, they thought I used some kind of fancy widget or plugin that compiled the posts for me, but I have found no such thing (wouldn’t that be nice!). Almost every page in my menu is manually updated by me when a new post is added to that category.
The blog tips page, for example, is updated manually. Every time I add a new post, I edit that page and make a new bulleted item with the post title and link. I like this page to be in a bulleted easy-to-read format, as those are some of my top-viewed and searched-for posts.
For other categories that I don’t care as much about and are probably being viewed less, I use something that will auto update. An example of this is my “Series Posts” tab. In the Genesis menu items, I put a custom link like this:
You can include a link for a category (blogurl.com/category/name) or tag (blogurl.com/tag/name).
This ends up showing the posts as archives with a post excerpt and featured image. This is good for these posts, but it is not easy to read or searchable so I only use it for posts that are not my best or popular on the blog.
4. Keep it Visually Appealing
Your menu is in a good location, it has content organized and easily available to your readers, but does it look good?
Style is always subjective, but here’s a few things to keep in mind for visual appeal:
- Keep the formatting consistent with text style and colors. Too many colors or styles = not good.
- Use a link hover color that can still be read when hovering over it. White is not a good idea!
- Don’t go too bold or big on main menu items. You don’t want the menu to scream at you.
- Go bold enough that your menu says “hey, look at me!” but without being cumbersome.
- If it looks ugly to you, it looks ugly to someone else. Get a second opinion if needed.
I don’t feel that blog menus really get the attention they deserve. It’s harder than it looks to create a menu that your visitors will be able to use with ease and that also appeals to the blogger. Menus often times go overlooked, but they’re one of the most important structured pieces a blog has.
I hope these tips help you organize your menu to you and your reader’s liking!
Questions for You:
- Is having an organized blog menu a priority for you?
- Are menus something you use and notice on other blogs?