Better Menu Management for WordPress
For the most part, menu management in WordPress is handled by the theme’s coded features. The theme’s coded features display links as a result of posts, pages or other types of navigable elements within your blog. As WordPress increases in popularity as a CMS solution, menu and navigation methods have required revisions. In order to be a true CMS, content and navigation must not be inner-dependent. Even casual manipulation of your site’s content structure in order to achieve the navigation structure you desire should not be necessary.
Whether using WordPress as a blog or a CMS solution, navigation and URL structure must be user friendly. Effective websites must (or should) follow the principles of guided navigation. URL structure must (or should) be as simple as possible. Navigation links should be easily manageable. For instance, users should be able to include keywords in the title and alt tags. The site manager should have options to control which links are followed and which are not.
With many WordPress themes published today, site navigation suffers. Many times, site navigation and design end up being counterproductive to your purpose. The primary issue with WordPress menus is that they are not easily managed. Subsequently, WordPress Menus generally do not follow good principles of guided navigation. Finally, they require modification to the content structure to achieve even casual structuring. You can examine each of these three issues as we continue below.
Principles of Guided Navigation in WordPress or any CMS Solution
Guided navigation helps site visitors access the information they seek in the easiest way possible. You can compare it to good goal planning or task list practices. Effective goal setting processes often begin with a broad goal. Then, the goal planner identifies required actions. Next, the required actions can be broken down into small, manageable tasks.
Quickly capturing a lead or sale is key to a website’s success. Studies link easy navigation to the success of a website. Thus, the faster you connect a visitor with the right information, the more likely the visitor will stay on your site, contact you, or buy a product. Well-organized sites are superior in terms of effectiveness and user satisfaction. In summary, the elements of Guided Navigation include: identifying the goal, identifying the tasks required to reach the goal, and selecting the best methods to guide the end user through the tasks as painlessly as possible.
Goals of a website are actually identified by more than just the site owner. Visitors to your site have their own objectives in visiting you. They may have their own ideas as to how to find what they are seeking. Thus, a good site manager will always keep in mind that the entry point into the site will rarely be the front page. When someone Googles a term and locates a page within your site, the point of entry will not likely be the front page. Effective guided navigation minimally features general topics in the navigation. Those topics then can be narrowed down to finer points. A general to specific navigation structure is the ideal structure for guided navigation. Lets look at how many themes miss this principle.
Content Structure Limitations With Most WordPress Themes
Common WordPress themes have menu navigation based on categories and pages. Posts are displayed in some manner of “latest” something or other. Although many WordPress themes offer aesthetic appeal, they tend to lack management tools for effective a CMS. Your menu should not be dependent on the structure of your content.
Studies show that the more shallow your URL structure, the more successful your site. The more shallow your URL structure, the more users will return to it and refer others to it.
The Best WordPress Menu Management Solution
Menu management should be simple, quick, user defined, and most importantly, guided. In order to achieve this there is only one tool available for Guided Navigation, that fits the bill of true menu management and that is our tool the WordPress Menu Creator. The tool (or plug-in as it’s known), is essentially a generator that renders an XHTML Unordered List of link elements that you can style and modify according to your site’s design. The Menu Creator can be applied to most third party themes with little modification. What does the Menu Creator provide? This list can answer that.
- CSS / XHTML Compliant Output
- XHTML Compliant External Window Popup, not the old target=”_blank”
- Supports the use of images as menu items
- Supports additional inline wrappers such as the SPAN tag.
- Supports full drag and drop sortable functionality
- Supports three REL options; external, canonical and nofollow.
- Can be distributed free of charge with your commercial or non commercial themes.
- Has inline integrated tutorials and guides
- Can be used externally from WordPress to control menus in static HTML or even Joomla, Drupal or OpenRealty sites.
- Can support thousands of potential menu designs and styles.
- Supports cascading suckerfish type menus including the MooTools and jQuery configurations
- Supports Accordian Type Menus
- The list goes on and on