Managing Menus In WordPress

WordPress

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Recently, when I explained the types of basic content you can create in WordPress, I told you about navigation menus. As its name suggests, they are the menus that allow you to easily navigate to the different pages of your website.

The number of menus you can have on your WordPress website and their location on it (top, side and/or bottom) depends on the theme you have installed. I would say that almost every WordPress theme comes with at least one menu location. But many others offer multiple locations.

You’ll see that creating, modifying, and deleting them is very easy if you follow the explanations I’ll give you below:

Create Your First Menu

To create a first menu, go to the WordPress Dashboard and click on Appearance » Menus.

Menus in WordPress
In your WordPress Dashboard, click on Appearance » Menus to create, edit, and delete your navigation menus.

This takes you to the Menus screen containing two tabs: Edit Menus and Manage Locations.

Let’s see the first one, what do we have in Edit Menus? Many themes, when you install them, already come with a default menu created. But if this is not the case, as I show you in the following image, click on the link “create a new menu” and you’ll see the input field Menu Name, where you should write the name you think is most convenient. Then click the Create Menu button.

Create your first menu
Create your first menu by entering a name and clicking Create Menu.

You’ll see that a new navigation menu has been created and two areas have appeared as you can see below:

Created my first WordPress menu.
Created my first WordPress menu.

On the right side is where you have to define the Menu Structure and the Menu Settings. In the latter you see a section named Display location. This is what I told you earlier about the location of the menu and it depends on the theme you’ve installed. In this particular example, I have a theme installed that allows you two possible locations, one that is called Primary Menu and the other one is called Social Menu. The number of menus you can create and the name of their display location depends on the theme you’re using.

On the left side of the menu editor you have access to all the content you created on your website: Pages, Posts, Categories… Just select the content you’re interested in and click on Add to Menu. For example, it’s very common for the Privacy Policy or Terms & Conditions page to be accessed through a link in the footer of a website, but not from the main menu.

You can obviously add them all at once by clicking on Select All first instead of selecting them manually. In either case, after clicking the Add to Menu button, you’ll see the content appears in your Menu Structure.

Save display location of menu.
Before saving the structure of the created menu, make sure you have set where you want to show it.

Then, if you haven’t done so before, you have to indicate under Menu Settings where you want your menu to be located (in the previous image you see that I’ve marked it to be displayed in the Primary Menu location) and when you click on Save Menu, you already have your first menu created.

Display of the menu created
Display of the menu we just created.

And rest assured that if you have multiple location options and don’t know where your menu should be displayed, you can change it as many times as you want. It’s important to notice that a certain location can only have one menu assigned (that is, there can only be one Primary Menu or one Social Menu), but you can use the same menu in multiple locations.

Organize Your Menu Items

When you select the pages and add them in the menu structure, they have been added in the same order as they were shown in the page list, but they probably do not match the order you would like them to be displayed. The WordPress menu editor allows you to simply select and drag and drop menu items to organize them as you like. Not only can you change the order of the items but it also allows you to create submenus.

For example, I’d like Home to be the first item in my menu, and I also want this to be a submenu with two extra items: Products and Pricing. Well, achieving such a structure is as simple as dragging and dropping a few elements:

And voilà! You already have the menu with the new organization of elements.

Menu display with the changes.
Display of the menu after the changes.

Depending on the WordPress theme you have installed, you can create more than two sub-menu levels, although many themes have a maximum two-level limit.

Add External Pages, Posts, or Categories

As you may have noticed, WordPress menus not only allow you to navigate to a page on your own website, they also allow you to navigate to external content.

Custom links in menu navigations.
Add a menu option to navigate to an external page.

This is useful when you have more than one related website, and is especially useful for creating the menu that will link to your social networks, as I will tell you a little later. Also, if you have your blog posts very well sorted with categories, note that you can also add links to Categories in your WordPress menu:

Select categories to include in menu
Select the categories you want to link to from the menu of your website.

This way, you can give your readers access to the different sections of your blog.

Including categories of posts in menus
Now, the Blog tab of the menu includes two new sub-elements that correspond to the selected categories.

Modify Your Menu Elements

When you’ve added the pages or other items to the menu structure, you’ve already seen that they have been copied with the same name. But what if you want the menu to display a different, more descriptive name?

Well, it’s very simple again. In the menu item you want to modify, click on the triangle to the right of it to expand its details. Just change its name and that’s it. For example, in the video below you can see how I’ve renamed the menu tab Pricing to Plans and Pricing.

Expanding a menu item also gives you access to an important extra function: Removing said item from the menu (which, as you can imagine, comes pretty handy from time to time 😉).

And that’s it. With everything explained here you can now create the perfect menu for your WordPress website.

Social Menus

As I mentioned before, let’s see the example of how to add a menu to link our social networks. In this case we would create a new menu and select its display location as the Social Menu.

Creating my new social menu.
Creating my new social menu.

And then, for each one of my social networks I add the customized link that is just the URL to my social network.

Custom Links tab in menus
On the Custom Links tab, add your Twitter URL, enter the Link Text, and click Add to Menu.

And so, you can add each of your social networks.

Items of a social menu navigation.
In the menu I have an item for each of my social networks.

Most of the themes for WordPress are already prepared so that, in the social menus, by indicating the links of each network they already show the icon of the network in question.

Display of the two menus we just created.
Display of the two menus we just created.

As you can see from the image above, you now have the two menus we just created.

I hope this information is useful for you to create and manage your web menus easily. It’s so easy you can play around with them until you find the perfect menu. Now all you need to do is get inspired by the different types of navigation menus you can design.

Finally, some WordPress themes also allow you to add additional menus to other predefined locations using widgets. But this is something we’ll discuss in another post. Don’t miss it!

Featured image by Bundo Kim in Unsplash

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Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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