Navigation Menus are one of the most vital parts of any WordPress design. Your users see them as soon as they arrive on your site, and they are their number one way to get around your site. Just like driving on the highway and looking for the exit sign you want, the navigation menu let’s you know where to get off.
The typical navigation menu is directly below or above the logo/header image, and some people actually have both (like I do). I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to add two menus next month, but for now let’s stick to the basics of how to use WordPress Menus.
You want to have a menu (or menus) that display’s all the relevant information that a reader could be looking for. However, you also want to make sure that they aren’t cluttered or confusing. The links that most readers expect to see on a menu are About, Contact, Blog, and Home, and the rest are really up to you. Some people choose to put all their Categories in the menu, while some people like to just keep it simple. In my opinion, as long as you have the important pages that people expect to see there, you can do whatever you want with the rest of the room.
To get to the area of WordPress where you edit your Menus you go to Appearance > Menus. By default, WordPress automatically puts every page you create in your menu, but as soon as you create your own menu to replace the default, this will stop.
In the menu area, there are two tabs. Edit Menus is where you decide what will be on your Menu, and Manage Locations is where you decide which menu will go where. Some themes offer multiple menu locations, so you can create many menus, and have them placed in different spots throughout the site.
To create your first Menu go to the Edit Menus tab and click Create a New Menu. Give your menu a name (something that will describe what the menu is or where it goes) and then click Create Menu.
Now you will see your menu on the right side of the screen. It will be empty right now because you haven’t added any links to it. Menu Structure is where the links go, and Menu Setting is where you can edit some of the minor settings of your menu.
On the left side of your screen you will see a list of various items that you can add to your menu. There are Pages (which are your pages you’ve created on your site), Categories (which are your post categories) and Custom Links (which are links you can add on your own). If you have a lot of pages or categories you can choose to view them by View All, Most Recent, or Search.
When you see the item you want to add to the menu, click the box next to it and then click Add to Menu. A little wheel will spin, and then that item will appear in the menu on the right. You can add one item at a time or several.
Now all the items you see in your menu on the right will appear as little boxes that you can drag to change their order. The items from the top to the bottom of the list will appear on your menu from left to right.
You might also want to have drop down menu items. This means that when you hover over one item in the menu, a drop down list would appear revealing more items that you can click on. To achieve this, you just add those items to the list the same way as the others, and then you drag the item below the top item, and slightly to the right. The top item will be the item that appears on the navbar, and the items below it to the right will be those that appear when you hover over it.
Once you have created the menu you want and saved it, then click on Manage Locations. This will bring you to a new, but very similar looking tab. Depending on what theme you’re using there might just be one menu location, with a dropdown next to it with all the menus you have created in it. Select the menu you want in the location you want it, and click Save Changes.
And voila! Now you’ve got a menu exactly how you want it, right where you need it. Editing the menu or adding to it as you go is just as easy as creating it was, and you can do it as often as you need to.