Blogging

Custom Menus: Featuring Older Content

Custom Menus: Featuring Older Content

Making content available to a growing community of readers is of paramount importance to bloggers. That’s why every blog should have a structure and navigation that’s intuitive and easy for readers to use. Though we aim to provide value in all our posts not all posts can be displayed on the front page of a blog. And the more we  publish the deeper our valuable content recedes into the blog where readers may not find it. What to do?

Featuring Older Content

There are various ways and means to bring posts located deeper than the front page to reader attention. Using them becomes increasingly important as our readership grows. We want to insure that first time visitors locate what they want with ease, as it increases the odds of their returning and subscribing. And we don’t want to so lose any current readers.

Archives, Categories and Tag Cloud widgets and the (automatically updated) dynamic matching pages the software creates when we publish posts, provide reader access to all of posts.

The Recent Posts widget may include posts not longer situate on the front page. The Top Posts and Pages Widget provides display choices of either top posts by views or by likes. They cover posts that are already popular and/or easy to locate but what about the others?

Text widgets for featuring older content can come into play. Theme features such as featured post sliders and  other ways to feature older content are useful too. But a new trend is also developing.

Trends and the Future

In the past all of our viewers were using desktops and our strongest reliance was on widgets.  Now more laptops, mobiles and tablets coming into use. Responsive width themes, custom menus and post formats are becoming more prominent.  That’s why this post is focused on creating index pages and including them in custom menus.

Fixed means the width of the theme does not change according to screen resolution (or the width of browser) your visitors use.

Fluid means the width of the theme changes according to screen resolution (or the width of browser) your visitors use.

Responsive width means the the layout adapts depending on the size of the device being used to view your site. When responsive width themes are viewed on mobiles sidebars appear below the posts in order to provide as much space as possible for reading.

The WordPress.com Theme team uses the “responsive-width” tag in the Themes Showcase to indicate which themes have this feature.

Pages: Dynamic and Static

When we publish posts (not pages) the software automatically displays them both in the matching widgets and on dynamic Archives, Categories and Tags pages. The posts can be located by clicking the links displayed in the appropriate widgets. The dynamic (automatically updating) Archives, Categories and Tags pages created by the software must not to be confused with static pages we bloggers create. Static pages do not automatically update.

Pages we bloggers create can be displayed by placing a Pages widget in the sidebar of any theme. In many themes they are automatically displayed often in a horizontal navigation bar and sometimes vertically arranged. Pages can also be displayed (along with other items) in a custom menu or in Custom Menu widget.

Custom Menus

A custom menu allows us to display tabs (links) to dynamic Categories pages with drop-downs to Sub-categories pages in tabs along the navigation,  where normally only Pages tabs are displayed. What’s more? We can include Pages with drop-downs to Sub-pages and/or Tags pages and/or Custom Links as well.

We are in charge of what appears in a custom menu. We choose what to display and which to hide. We choose the order of display.

Provided we create a custom menu, then and add the dynamic Categories pages and Tags pages pages to it, they can be accessed by clicking tabs (links) commonly appearing in the top horizontal menu.  (If your theme supports them, you can also add post formats pages to your custom menu.)

Note: There are many Common mistakes and misconceptions about custom menus and the article I linked to clears them all up.

Archives Pages

An Archives Page template is available in some themes and a Links Page template is available in some.  For details see Archives and Links page templates.

Regardless of the theme we use, we can embed the Archives shortcode on a Page and include that page  in a custom menu and that’s what I’ve done on this blog. I read Richard’s Building a post index at WordPress.com with archives shortcode and replaced the manually updated post index I had kept for years with a post index on a page I titled Sitemap.

Creative Pages

Any Page can be designed to display text and/or images in columns, HTML tables or in list format.  You can use you imagination and come up with an index page that’s eye catching, for example,  thumbnail images on pages can be used to create creative index pages.

Discussion

This blog now has over 700 posts and I’m focused on making them as easy to access as possible. As the content in this blog isn’t graphic in nature I chose a two column text format, without images for my new  Basic Blogging page.  I hope will be as useful to my readers as my Popular Posts pageis.

  1. Are you using a responsive width theme?
  2. Are you using a custom menu?
  3. Have you created any index pages to provide access to older content in your blog?
  4. Do you have any tips to share?