Creating Great Navigation for your WordPress Podcasting Website

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 5 Navigation is, I think, one of the most underthought aspects of many people’s WordPress Podcasting websites. It’s understandable – WordPress does a lot of it for you, automatically adding pages to the menu bar, and allowing a generic category box down the side. In this episode I talk about

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The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 5

Navigation is, I think, one of the most underthought aspects of many people's WordPress Podcasting websites. It's understandable – WordPress does a lot of it for you, automatically adding pages to the menu bar, and allowing a generic category box down the side. In this episode I talk about being more purposeful with your navigation, and what to offer your user that'll really suck them in right away, converting them to rabid fans.

Topics Mentioned on This Episode

Navigation for wordpress podcasting websites Let’s have a look at what I think you should be linking to. ABOUT PAGE and CONTACT PAGE, these are two things that people look for so you want to be linking to them perhaps in the secondary menu but arguably in the primary menu if you want to. Next you’ve got two pages which I think people don’t really think about often but are really useful to have and that is a SUBSCRIBE PAGE and a START HERE PAGE.

SUBRCRIBE PAGE is where you tell people how to subscribe to your podcast. This is one page that has some good tutorials, nice walkthroughs including screen graphs and even a video on how to subscribe to your podcasts using iTunes, Stitcher, a certain Android Apps, Windows phones, Blackberry phones, put on as much there as you can to get people through how to subscribe to your podcast. And you want to link to that page from as many different places as you can. You can put a SUBSCRIBE button in your main navigation and also within your posts. Always guide people through that subscription process.

START HERE PAGE is something you may see around on a few different sites now. It’s becoming a bit more popular. It is a page where if people are new to your site, you can guide them through it. You might have a banner over in your side bar or a banner at the bottom of your posts saying “START HERE, NEW TO THE SITE HAVE A LOOK HERE”. And that will just guide people through how to consume your site. It’ll just say “This is what our site is about.” This is what the podcast is about and here’s a few episodes that may give you a good taste.” And it is designed to put people in to the best stuff that you do and really persuade them that your podcast is worth listening to.

And there’s one more page that I want to mention as well and that’s something that is becoming again more popular but a lot of people aren’t doing it yet but they should and that’s a page on HOW PODCASTS WORK. A lot of people are finding podcasts these days through search on the web so if you’re creating good show notes pages with targeted titles and some good notes in there with some good keywords and things, people will find you just through the search. So, they may not know what podcast is and you want to guide people through what a podcast is and persuade them to get you on to their phone, on to their mobile device and to subscribe to you because that’s the way that you’re going to get into their ears week after week. You want them to actually use as a podcast using that subscription functionality and if they don’t know what a podcast is you need to tell them how it works and how to get a podcasting application no matter what phone, what device they are using. So it’s great to create a HOW PODCASTS WORKS page with videos, walkthroughs, screen shots, that type of stuffs again to guide people through that purpose.

The other thing that I think you can do is to link to particular posts, so have a couple of links in your menu bar like a link to your MOST POPULAR POSTS so once people hover over it, it’ll pop-up with 5 or 6 popular posts. You can do that in your sidebar as well, that can be a really good place to do the popular post links. You can create just a text widget with links to your popular posts or you have a navigation bar.

TAGS give you a little bit more granular coverage, you can make them a bit more specific. You can use tags as navigation as well so I can link all of the posts that are around tags.

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The final one I want to mention is the contact details. Your contact page may include a form for people to email you, a voicemail message number and even social media sites. It’s good to include this page in the navigation bar that say CONTACT ME and then on a dropdown links to your voicemail, Twitter account, Facebook account, anywhere where you want people to be able to contact you.

Resources Mentioned on This Episode

LearnDen Website Course

This is a free course that provides instructional videos thru the WordPress Guide Course that will show you how to use widgets.

Let Me Know What You Think!

Let me know what navigation you use for your website. How effective the navigation menu you're using for your website. I’d love to hear from you!

And also, I’d appreciate it if you give me an iTunes review. It really helps to get my podcast out there to more people.

Thanks again for listening to the first week episodes of our Series 3. I’ll see you next week where we’re going to start looking for some plugins to enhance our podcasting websites.

View the Transcription on This Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft!

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, the series on building a peerless podcasting website. This is episode 5 and we’re on to navigation. So, yesterday we were talking about themes, so yesterday we wanted to make our site look good. We were looking at how to make it pop out to create a great first impression. Now, we’re on to navigation. So, this is on to the real usability of the site. This is how to create a site that is easy to have a look around, easy to find your content and just easy makes your, draws your listeners in to make them more of a fan.

Now, navigation is one of those places where a lot of people actually don’t spend much time. So, you got a lot of WordPress websites and it’s probably because WordPress can create navigation by default, so it can create your navigation for you. If you create pages, WordPress will actually put some navigation menu items up in the navigation bar by itself, so if you create new pages it’ll create the title of those pages up in the nav bar anyway. And that can make people a little bit, well, I say fair about the navigation, it just makes them not think about it too much because it’s done automatically for you. But really, that navigation is pretty basic, it doesn’t really give the user much of a guide around, there’s not much purpose to it. You’re not putting much thought into how you’re guiding people around your website. And of course that tends to lead to pretty sub-optimal navigation experience for your users. So, what we want to do is put some purpose to it, want to think about what were offering to your users in terms of navigation. You want to think about how you’re going to guide your users around your website. We’re basically going to think about what ways that we can tell our users where the content is on our site, how we can guide people to the best content , make them spot the good content, make them consume a lot of your great content and therefore, become fans because they see how great your stuff is. And this is instead of them coming to your site, finding one page and basically not really finding anything else that you’ve done, not really seeing anything else of the great, the great content you’ve put out there. So, that’s our purpose today, create some great navigation.

Now, one of the reasons, probably, that people don’t tend to do great navigation in a WordPress site is that it’s not really treated as evergreen content when you’re creating podcasts. A lot of people create a podcast as if it’s more like a blog, so it’s stuff that is a bit time sensitive. So, you create something, you create a post, you create an episode, and it’s talking about something that’s happening a week, something’s happening a month, it’s maybe not so relevant in a months time, two months time, three months time, or you talk a lot about what’s happening then and there in your life, don’t really make it evergreen. And that’s what we want to try and get away from, we want to try and get away from creating the stuff that goes out of date in a month and then once you do that, once you actually start to create this evergreen content then it start to become this content you can link to at anytime. So, you can link to from anywhere in your site and it’s always going to be relevant, it’s always something that you want to point for people back to in the future. So, that’s the first thing, start to think of your podcasting content as evergreen, start to think about making it so that it’s not going to go out to date so that you can link to it at any point.

So, what do we do next? What do we do first? Firstly, let’s think about where the navigation is. So, in any theme in WordPress, we talked about a little bit yesterday, you get different navigation places, so you get different bars. Now, I talked about trying to find a theme that has more than one navigation bar. That tends to be because I think there’s two good places to have navigation. I think that the main navigation bar, so the most prominent navigation bar on your theme should have a link to a few different things that should guide you around your content, so, that should guide people around the most relevant, the most popular, the content that will really draw them into your website, that’s what going to be in your main bar. And we’re going to talk a little bit more about that type of content, what we’re going to put in there in a minute. The other navigation, sometimes you get another top navigation, so maybe it’ll be at the very top of the page, it’ll be a little less prominent, it’ll be slightly heading away, and that’s where you can sometimes put the other stuff that’s expected but perhaps isn’t as often used. So, that might be things like About page, so you always want your About page to be obvious, you always want it to be there but it’s perhaps not the first place you want people to go. People will look for it, if you want people to see your About page, people know have the existence of this, they’ll go and find it. You can also put your Contact page up there as well, so that people can find out where to contact you. Now, you could argue with this, you could argue that your About page and your Contact page are really important and therefore you want them as prominent as possible but I would say sometimes that, I would say that you could put the About page and the Contact page separate from the rest of the content because they’re not really as relevant I would say, they’re not really what to get people on to first and foremost. First and foremost you want attract them to look at your great content and then they’ll be persuaded to look for more information about you or to contact you from then. Now, you want to make it obvious, you want to make it so that they can find the About and the Contact page obviously because they are important but I think they can be separate from the rest. Now, if you do have a theme that does only have one navigation bar, don’t worry too much about it because we’re going to look at placing sidebar menus as well. So, it’s possible to create a navigation menu in your sidebar thru widgets. So, we’ve already talked a little bit about widgets in the previous ones. If you want some instructions on adding widgets to your WordPress site, that means adding a box in the sidebar that includes some kind of tool and in this case, a navigation bar, then you can go and have a look at the website course that I’ve talked, I mentioned a couple of times in this series already. You can get to that at podcraft.net/websitecourse and you can either sign up there for the course or you can access the courses if you’re already signed up. So, you can get some instructional videos thru the WordPress Guide Course there that will show you how to use widgets. And you could essentially add any menu that you create within WordPress to a widget, so you can always have your main navigation along the top, you can really have even some secondary navigation along the top or on the footer but then you can also have some navigation bars in the widgets.

Now, the navigation itself, how to create these menus, that’s another thing you can do within WordPress, so you’ll find that within the Appearance section. So, you go to WordPress, Appearance and the Menus. And menus, as a big tool that lets you create really customised menus with anything in there. So, you can automatically create links to pages, to posts, to categories, you can create totally custom links to anything you want as well in there. And again, hard to describe on the podcast but that’s why I’ve created some tutorial videos for that. Again, go to podcraft.net/websitecourse and look out the WordPress Guide Course and you’ll see lots of video tutorials there, you’ll just have to sign up, give me your email address at the mailing list which I hope will give you lots of value in the future as well and that’s when you can get access to the website course with all the videos.

So, let’s have a look at what I think you should be linking to. So, here’s what we want to be linking to. So, first of all, you’ve got the basics, these are your static pages. So, I talked about About page and Contact page, so they’re two things that people look for, so you want to be linking to them, perhaps in the secondary menu but arguably in the primary menu if you want to. Next, you‘ve got two pages which I think people don’t really think about often but are really useful to have and that is a Subscribe page and a Start here page. So, Subscribe page is where you tell people how to subscribe to your podcast, this is one page that has some good tutorials, nice walkthroughs including screen graphs perhaps even a video on how to subscribe to your podcast using iTunes, using Stitcher, using a certain Android apps, using, say, Windows phones, Blackberry phones, put on as much there as you can to guide people to how through how to subscribe to your podcast. And you want to link to that page from as many different places as you can. So, for example, on your main navigation, have a subscribe button because that’s what you want people to do if they come to your website and they’re not already subscribed. And also within your posts, you might want to have in the sign up button of your show notes, “Remember , you can subscribe to this podcast. Have a look here for more instructions”, so always guide people through that subscription process.

Next, the Start here page that I mentioned. Start here is something you see around on a few different sites, quite, it’s becoming a bit more popular and it’s just really a page where if people are new to your site, you can guide them through which you may have a banner over in your sidebar or you might even have a banner at the bottom of your posts saying “Start here. New to the site? Have a look here!” and that’ll just guide people through how to consume your site. It’ll just say, “This is what site is about. This is what the podcast is about. And here’s a few episodes that might give you a few taste. Here’s 2 or 3 episodes that will introduce you to what I do. Here’s some of the good stuff.”, and really is designed to put people into the good, the best stuff that you do and really persuade them that your podcast is worth listening to. So, it’s really to, yes, to talk them into becoming a fan of your podcast and listening on.

Okay, so there’s one more page that I want to mention as well and that’s something that is becoming again more popular too but I think a lot people aren’t doing it yet but they should. And that’s a page on how podcasts work, now, I say this because a lot of people are finding podcasts these days not thru iTunes, not thru Android but thru search on the web. So, if you’ve got show notes, if you’ve got a good website that delivers your podcast, if you’re creating good show note pages with targeted titles and some good notes in there with some good keywords and things, people will find you just thru the search. So they might not know what podcast is, they might find this post, they might find this audio file on there and they don’t have a clue what podcast is. So, you want to guide people through what a podcast is and persuade them to get you on to their phone, to get you on to their mobile device and to subscribe to you because that’s the way you’re going to get into their ears week after week, not thru hoping that they come back to your website to listen to your audio file there. You want them to actually use it as a podcast using that subscription functionality and if they don’t know what a podcast is, you need to tell them. So, you need to tell them how it works and how to get a podcasting application no matter what phone, what device they are using. So, it’s great to create How Podcasts Work page with videos, walkthroughs, screenshots, that type of stuffs again to guide people through that purpose.

Okay, so those pages will do a great deal in guiding people to your good stuff. Obviously, you’re using the Start here page, you’re using the subscribe page , they’re all going to get people to take the action that you want them to take, so, that is to consume your great content and then to subscribe to it and come back week after week.

The other thing that I think you can do is to link to particular posts. So, have a couple of links in your menu bar that say “Link to your most popular posts”, so maybe even have a link that just says popular posts and then below that in the submenu, so once people hover over it, it’ll pop up with five or six popular posts. Now, you can do that in the sidebar as well, that can be a really good place to do the popular post links, so you could create just a text widget with links to your popular posts or you could have a navigation bar with link to your popular posts in the sidebar as well. So, that can be a great way to do it. I think that’s a really nice way to guide people again thru your really popular stuff. You’ll have that on your Start here page but it’s also good to make it nice and obvious by actually creating a navigation item that guides people thru that as well. So, that could be even your pillar post, so it’s your, the stuff that people really like, the evergreen stuff again, which is going to attract people in and get them addicted so they keep coming back.

Next, we’re on to the more obvious ones, so the ones that people do link to a bit more often. So, firstly, we’ve got categories. So, break your episodes up in to topics, make sure you’re categorising every single episode that you do into maybe five or six, maybe seven different topics inside your main niche and then be linking to those topics from your navigation bar or again you can then link to them from your sidebar if your navigation bar is becoming a bit cluttered. And this lets people just go and find your content by topic obviously, so they can think about what kind of subtopic within your main niche that they’re interested in today and they can go and find all you episodes on that, just makes it very easy to find particular aspects of your podcast. And another aspect to that is tags, so tags are designed in WordPress and maybe offer a little bit more granular categorisation. So, categories give you your main category, categorisation obviously and tags give you a little bit more granular coverage, so you can make them a bit more specific, you can make the a little bit less inside your category niches, category site lows, you can put tags on just about anything. So, if you want to have a particular topic that doesn’t certainly mean category, so for example, it may not, might have WordPress, WordPress isn’t particularly , like particularly podcasting related but I might want to gather together all of my episodes on WordPress or using WordPress and have that as a tag. And then you can use tags as navigation as well. So, I can link to all of the posts that are around tags or all of the episodes that are around certain tags.

Okay, so, that’s the main stuff. The final one that I want to mention is just your contact details. So, I already said to link people to your contact page, so, that’s obvious. Get people on to your contact page which will include a form for people to email you, it might even include stuff like if you want people to phone you, a voicemail message number maybe so that people will leave you messages, maybe you link people to your SpeakPipe, if you want to get them to leave messages that way, all that kind of stuff. Any way that you want people to contact you, even social media sites, that type of stuff, you want that in your contact page. But you might also want to link to them specifically in the navigation, so you could have an item in your navigation bar that says contact me and then on a dropdown that’ll link to your voicemail, your Twitter accounts, your Facebook account, anywhere were you want people to be able to contact you. You can have a dropdown which includes four or five or six different ways for people to contact you, make sure you make it easy.

Okay, so, that covers pretty much all of navigation stuff. These are all of the things that you can navigate, that you can offer as navigation to your user. And I guarantee that if you include all of these items, people will come to your site, they’ll be much more likely to stay around, they’ll be more likely to browse around, much lower bounce rate i.e. people will come and they’ll view more than one page. And they’re much more likely to become fans, they’re much more likely to be drawn into your world, into your podcast and become fanatical fans and listen, subscribe forevermore and that’s what we’re looking for.

So, I hope you find that useful. Again, you can go and have a look at the tutorials, I’ve got tutorials on both creating menu items, adding navigation to WordPress and a few other things around navigation, adding widgets to your sidebar as navigation as well. I’ve got tutorials to all of those things on the WordPress Guide  Course which you can find at podcraft.net/websitecourse and there you can either signup for the courses or you can access the courses directly if you’ve already signed up.

So, that finishes up our first week. Next week we’re going to start looking at some fancy plugins to really enhance our podcasting website. This week, that’s the start of the basics going we’ve now got a good podcasting website. Next week, we want to start making it great, we’re going to add in some extras that will really make it work. So, thanks again for listening and I’ll see you next time!