Navigation menus are important elements of your WordPress website that carry out two vital functions. Firstly, they are the main way that your visitors will use to find the information they are looking for and secondly, they help search engines understand how your website is structured so that it can be indexed more easily. Without a menu, much of your web content would be inaccessible. In this article, we’ll show you how easy it is to create menus using the built-in WordPress menu editor.
Step 1. Creating a new menu
The first step in the process is to create a new menu. To do this you will need to:
- Login to your WordPress admin panel.
- Go to ‘Appearance’ in the left-hand sidebar and select ‘Menus’. This will open the Menu Editor.
- Go to the top of the Menu Editor and select Create a new menu.
- Give your new menu a name in the Menu Name box and click on Create Menu.
Your new menu is now created and ready to work on.
Step 2. Planning your menu
Once your menu has been created, you’ll want to add items to it so that your visitors can find their way around your website. However, you should first consider what you want to use the menu for before adding items to it. Most websites have several menus, each with a different function. The main or primary menu is the most important as it goes near the top of every page, just underneath the header, and helps people find the most important content.
In addition, there is often a menu that deals with more administrative matters and includes links to terms and conditions, privacy policies, account details, contact pages, etc. This menu is often found at the very top of each page, above the header, or at the very bottom in the footer.
You will also find that some WordPress sites have other menus in their sidebar which link to specific posts, pages and other content.
Once you have decided which kind of menu you are creating, you can begin to consider the items you will add. There are four main types of item that you can add to your menu: pages, posts, custom links and categories. Some themes and plugins will also add additional item types, such as product categories, which you can include in your menu as well.
- Pages: You can add a link to any page on your website. You will probably not need to put a link to every page, but if this is your main menu, then you should always put a link to your home page.
- Posts: You can add a link to any individual post on your website. Most people do not do this unless they are creating a custom menu of their most important posts. For main menus, rather than individual posts, the normal practice is to add a link to a category.
- Category: You can add a link to each of your categories. This is a common practice with many WordPress users, especially those who use their sites as a blog.
- Custom Links: Here you can add a link to anywhere on the internet. Many WordPress users use these links to let customers download resources or visit other sites. If you run more than one website or your website has a subdomain, you can use a custom link take your visitors there.
Step 3: Adding items
to the menu
With the exception of custom links, which have to be manually created, adding posts, pages and categories is a very simple process. On the left of the Menu Edit page, you will see a collapsible menu with the four item types shown.
- Start by clicking on the Pages pane of the menu and then on the View All link. This will show you all the pages you have created on your website.
- Click on the check boxes to select the pages you want to add to the menu.
- Click Add to Menu at the bottom of the pane and you will see the items appear in the menu list at the right side of the page.
- Finally, remember to click on Save Menu.
- Once you have finished adding pages, you can then proceed to add categories and posts if you wish.
To add a custom link, do the following:
- Click on the Custom Links pane
- In the URL box, type in or paste the URL of the page you want the link to take your visitor.
- In the Link Text box, type the words you want to appear on the menu for the link.
- Click Add to Menu and then click Save Menu
Arranging your menu
Once you have added items to your menu, there are three other options you need to consider:
- The order in which things will appear on the menu.
- Whether some items should be created as main items or sub items in a menu.
- What text you want to appear on the menu.
Changing the order
Changing the order in which things appear on the menu is very simple, you just need to drag and drop the menu items into the order you desire.
Creating submenu items
There are two reasons why you may want to create sub items on a menu. Firstly, there might not be enough space in the width of your webpage to fit all the items you want and this can produce a very ugly web page for your visitors. Secondly, sometimes it makes it easier for your visitors to navigate. For example, if you have a shop on your site, it might be easier to have a main menu item labelled Shop and when this is clicked on three submenu items appear for shoes, jewellery and watches. It would certainly make the menu more organised than having three separate main menu items.
To create submenu items:
- Position the cursor on the link you wish to be a submenu item
- Hold the left mouse button and drag it underneath the link that will be the main item.
- Once underneath, drag it to the right and release the mouse button.
- Click the Save Menu.
Changing the menu text
You can change the text that appears on a link in the menu any time you wish. This can be helpful if you need to shorten the width of a menu item to make it look more aesthetic or to give more room to add a new item.
To change the text you need to:
- Find the item in the menu and click on expand arrow on the right hand side of the title box.
- Go the Navigation Label box and type in the new label you wish to appear on the menu.
- Click save menu.
Adding the menu to your website
Different themes have different options for menus. Some only allow one menu, others allow more. You can find the options on the Edit Menu page at the bottom, under Menu Settings. Once you are satisfied that your menu is finished you need to:
- Scroll to the Menu Setting section and then to Theme Locations .
- Click the check box for the location where you want your new menu to appear.
- Click Save menu.
Your new menu should now appear on your website.
From reading this article you should now have a better understanding of how to:
- create a new menu
- add posts, pages, categories and custom links to a menu
- rearrange the order of items in a menu
- create a submenu
- change the navigation label of a menu
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