Blogging 101: navigation menus

Navigation menus are really simple, once you understand the concept behind them. Just remember, each menu title needs to have a corresponding URL (a link) to go with it. (This URL is the place that clicking on the title will take you to.) Here's an example:

home / http://blog.blogspot.com
about / http://blog.blogspot.com/2006/09/about.html
twitter / http://www.twitter.com/rainydaydesign
portfolio / http://blog.blogspot.com/search/label/portfolio
contact / mailto:ellie@rainydaytemplates.com

In this list, clicking on the title "home" will take me to the blog itself. Clicking on "about" will take me to a post titled "about" (you can tell it's a post, since there's a date in the URL). Clicking on "twitter" will take me to my twitter page. Clicking on "portfolio" will bring up all posts with the label "portfolio". Finally, clicking on "contact" will launch an email to me.

The above are just sample menu items, of course - your navigation menu titles can be anything you want, as long as you have an URL to link to each of them. These are the things that a menu can link to:

Any Website or Blog. For instance, your menu can be linked to your Flickr page, your Facebook page, your Twitter page, or your own business website.

A Post On Your Blog. So if for instance, you'd like to use a post as a sort of "page" on your blog, you can do so. One option would be to write a post titled "About Me", which could contain a description of yourself and maybe a photo. Remember though that these will not really be separate pages, since your sidebar content will always appear on every page of your blog. They'll just be what's called post-pages - individual posts that are used to organize information.

Another option for a post-page is a "Contact Me" post, containing your email, phone number, etc.

Some other things that make good post-pages: Testimonials, FAQs, or Pricing. Some people even like to save sidebar space by using a blog post as a place to put a list of links.

To obtain the URL of an individual blog post (post-page), just click on that post title. The URL of the new page that refreshes, with only that post on it, is the URL that will go into your menu. (Confused? Here's a more step-by-step explanation of how to use post-pages).

A Label On Your Blog. One option for organizing content on your blog is to use individual labels from your blog as links in your menu. If you're not sure what a label is (also called a "tag" or a "category"), go to Posting / New Post. Then check out the bottom right-hand corner of your blog posting window - you'll see a bit that says "Labels for this post:". In that space, you can add keywords to classify the content of your blog. These keywords - labels - will appear above or below the blog posts they go with (depending on the styling of the template).

Say for instance you're a florist, and you'd like to classify each post that has a photo of one of your bouquets as part of your portfolio. Just type the word "portfolio" in the labels window on each of the posts you'd like the label applied, and republish those posts. Your menu can then be linked between the word "portfolio" in your menu and all posts that are labeled with the word "portfolio". Then prospective clients who visit your blog can see all posts with examples of your work all in row by clicking the "portfolio" link at the top.

Other ideas for labels in your menu: Press (for professionals), Engagement (for photographers), Favorites, Bargains (for decorator blogs), etc.

To obtain the URL of a label, just click on the label itself. A page will come up saying "Showing All Posts With Label X" - the URL of this page is what will go into your menu. (Confused? Here's a more step-by-step explanation of how labels work).

Your Blogger Profile Page. If you'd like an "About Me" link in your menu, but you don't want to write a post page, we can link to your Blogger profile (you know, this thing). To obtain the link for this, simply open your Blogger Profile page and copy/paste the link.

Your Email Address. You can also designate one of your menu titles as a direct contact button, so that when a visitor clicks on "Contact" or "Contact Me", it will launch the person's email application and start a new message to you.

Your RSS feed. See the little bit at the bottom of your blog that says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)"? That's your RSS feed; it can be linked to your navigation menu. To obtain the link for it, just click on it. Then grab and copy/paste the URL of the page that launches. Another way to obtain your RSS link is to click the RSS button in your browser window.

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