Dynamic Menu Guide

NetCommunity has an intelligent menu that displays its information according to where the page is located in the site. While this makes maintaining the site navigation a lot easier, understanding how it works can be quite difficult and sometimes confusing. This guide will explain to you the many aspects of the menu part.

Understanding Dynamic Behavior

One of the major benefits of the menu part is that it displays menu items according to the page's location in the site. For example, a page existing under the "About Us" section will typically have a side menu that displays links to other pages in the "About Us" section. Instead of showing the entire menu, it only shows the "About Us" section.

Traditionally, websites have been set up to have a different menu for both the main navigation and an entirely different menu for every section. This required multiple templates and twice the menu management. Now we can get away with one or two templates and only one navigation that will appear differently according to its location on the page.

As a main menu,  it will show all the sections with the possibility of dropdown menus. As a side menu, it will show a section with each of its nested pages. As a breadcrumb, it will only show a trail from the current page that you are on, to the section it is in, all the way back to the home page. Also, the same menu could be used as a site map on a page by itself.

Putting Your Menu to Work

Step 1: Create a Page

When you are creating a page for your site, it doesn't know where it will live until you tell it where. What happens as a result is that no menu will show up in the side navigation. Every link is set to be hidden by default unless there is an active page.

DO NOT WORRY. This is normal. The menu part is still on the template, but it will only show a placeholder flag with a blank area. All you have to do is tell the menu where you want this page to exist on the site.

Step 2: Modify the Menu

There are many ways to get to the menu part, but one of the easiest is through the part itself. Since the part exists on the template level, you cannot edit it directly from the page. But it does offer a shortcut.

Accessing the Menu Part

  1. Click on the placeholder flag for your menu.
  2. In the dropdown box, click on "Edit Page Template."
  3. Now, from the template editor, click on the same placeholder flag.
  4. In the dropdown box, click on "Edit..." This will bring up the Menu 2.0 part editor.

Editing the Menu Part
Since you will have gone over this in End-User Training, use this as a quick reference guide.

  1. Select the parent section or page you want your new page to exist under.
  2. Click the "Add" button. A new page with a generic name will show up.
  3. Name the page and click on the "Link " button.
  4. Select the page you just created from "Create Link to NetCommunity Page."
  5. Save your changes.

Step 3: Watch the Magic

After saving your menu it may seem like nothing happened. That is because you will go straight into the template editor if you followed the directions for accessing the menu part above. The template does not have a link in the menu, so the same behavior applies.

You can exit out of the template and back to you page by simply clicking on the "Return" button.  This will take you back to your newly created page.

If you successfully linked this page in the menu, you should now see the menu for the section you put it in.

Keeping it Clean

With great power comes great responsibility. While this intelligent menu has many benefits, it can also cause problems if not used properly. Refer to this list of considerations if you have any problems.

  • Link to a page only once. If you link to the same page within two different sections, both sections will be displayed in the menu.

    Solution: If you must link to the same page from two different locations, you can do so by duplicating the page and linking to the duplicate. The parts will be the same, so when you update the parts, they will update consistently for every occurrence.

  • You need a menu on a page that you don't want in a menu. Some pages need to contain a menu, but you don't necessarily want to link to them in a menu.

    A menu according to best practices will have no more than four levels: home > section > page > subpage. Anymore than that can be excessive and hard to navigate. So we will utilize a fifth level in the navigation to indicate where the page exists in the site; however, we will turn the fifth level's visibility off. That way, the page will still display the proper menu, but the link to that page will never be visible to the user.

Some cases require unique solutions based on the unique needs of your site. In some exceptions, you will need to create a template with a unique menu as a solution. But generally, the dynamic menu will cut down on redundancies and ultimately make your site easier to manage.

What's in it for You?

While this seems like a complicated process, it is actually the most efficient and beneficial approach to displaying navigation on your site. Most of the work has been done for you, so your only concern is what's in the menu and not what the menu looks like.

Here are some common benefits:

Less Work for You: Only one menu part means you only need to edit one menu. Although your site seems to have two or more menus, they all get their data from the same source.

Consistency Throughout the Site: A common issue with managing multiple menus is that there is no guarantee of consistency. Because you have only one menu to manage, you can now guarantee the same order, same spelling and same hierarchy for every item in your menu.

Functionality and Display: As the menu's functionality and display is based almost entirely on stylesheets, we have taken a careful approach to making the menu display according to its location on the page. As the stylesheets for the menus involves an advanced knowledge of CSS, we focus on making the styles both scalable and unbreakable so you don't have to.

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