Deciding on the Nature of Your Site
Partly the buttons you include in the top or sidebar will reflect the nature of what your site is providing - not in terms of what niche, but in terms of what kind of media. If your site is providing entirely articles and content for instance (such as a blog) then this becomes a lot easier to sort out and it allows you to basically categorize your site and to place different articles on each page. People now know that on each page will be a selection of articles, and so the category is the only title they need.
On the other hand however your site may provide multiple types of media, and this might include things like videos, downloads, a forum or web apps. This then means that you need to help people to navigate to the kind of medium they need. So those categories might become your headings meaning you might want a separate 'articles' page. If you then also have many categories of videos and articles in terms of topics, then you need to either use a combination of menu bars, or you need to organize your pages in a logical way once you get there. Of course you can also have your topics as your headings and then organize the media in such a way that your visitors can find what you need.
What Do You Want People to See?
So whether you decide to organize your headings in terms of the topics, or in terms of the media, will basically come down to what you want people to see. You need then to decide what the selling point of your site is - is it your vast number of media options, or is it your diverse range of topics? Then you need to think about what it is you're trying to push on your site and where you want your viewers to go. Do you want them to go to your shop first? Or your forum? Because in that case you then need to make these prominent in your menu bars.
You also need to think about how clearly your site communicates the subject that it's about - as this is something your menu headings can help to cement. If you are worried people won't know immediately what our site is about, then you should consider using your menu headings in order to help clearly define your subject.
What Do You Want to Hide?
There was a time when you would almost always see a contact tab and a links button in the top menu on any site, but if you're astute you'll have noticed that this is no longer so common. The main reason for this is that you don't benefit from people clicking those buttons - why would you want your visitors to follow links away from your site? And meanwhile bearing in mind that people will often be willing to search for your contact link, why not hide it somewhere to encourage people to look around a bit more? You also need to think about where you want to point Google, and that means including links that will help Google to index the pages you want (and it means certainly not pointing it out of your site).
These are just some basic considerations when creating your menu bars and choosing which links to include. Make sure you consider this long and hard and realize that this is a very important decision for helping to categorize and even define your site.
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