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Every website needs a navigation menu. This menu usually contains the most important sub-pages that you would like to draw your visitors’ attention to. On most websites, the main navigation is located in the header. Below, you will learn how to create different types of menus and then place them in the header, in the sidebar, footer, or anywhere else on your website.
A navigation menu is practically mandatory for all types of websites, even those that have a limited amount of content. The most important menu items should be the items that allow your users to easily navigate your site. These can include items like Home, About, Services, Contact, etc. Not only can you create beautiful pages in WordPress, but it also ships with extensive menu functions. You can:
- Create menus
- Edit menus
- Assign pages / posts
- Create submenu-items and dropdown lists
- Sort menu items
- Define the placement of menus
You can create an unlimited amount of menus in the editor. Each menu can then be assigned the desired elements as menu items. You can add many different things like pages, blog posts, blog categories, custom post type archives, taxonomies, etc. Additionally, you can create nested menus with submenu-items. These will be shown as a dropdown-menu on the front end. Lastly, the menu position can be used to determine where the respective menu should appear on the website.
How to create a menu in WordPress?
First, select “Appearance” and “Menus” in the dashboard. You will often find an already created menu here. If you are using a premade theme and have imported demo data, it’s likely that you already have a menu in the editor.
In the picture below you’ll see a link that says “create a new menu”. After selecting this, you can give the menu any name you want.
Setting the menu position
Next, an empty menu with the desired name is created. In the menu settings section you can now determine the position in the theme where your new menu to be displayed. The actual alignment and positioning of the menu depends on the theme you are using, but generally, it is at the top part of the web page.
On most menus, the position for the main menu is called primary or main in most themes. if you are unsure, you can simply try out the positions and see where the new menu actually appears in the theme.
Adding menu items
All created menu items appear in the menu structure section. With a new menu, the structure is initially empty. Here you can add the desired menu items. Menu items can be created for all elements (post types) created in WordPress, such as pages, posts or categories. To do this, check the box next to any of the elements you want and click on “Add to menu.”
You can add menu items from the left hand side
- Add menu items to the menu structure: The selected items are now added to the menu in the order in which you add them. You can adjust these in the next step
- Adjust menu structure: In the menu structure section you can easily adjust the order of the elements by dragging & dropping the menu items. You can also drag a menu item below a “parent” element, creating submenu or a dropdown menu. The parent items are directly visible in the menu but in order to see the dropdown items, you’d have to hover over the parent item.
How to Customize the Style of your WordPress Menu
After you have configured the structure of your menu, you can customize its appearance and position.
Changing the color of menu items
A common question is how to change the color of the menu items. While there are no general settings in the backend for this, your specific theme is oftentimes responsible for how you can change the styles of any part of your website, including the menu. If your theme supports that, however, you can generally find it in the Theme Customizer.
Keep in mind that for most free themes, changing styles within the customizer isn’t an option. This setting option is usually seen in premium themes.
Which items belong in the menu?
When creating a menu, a question that is often asked amongst beginners is what are the best menu items to add. While there are no concrete answers for this, there are some best practices. Most websites have two menus: a main navigation and footer menu.
The main navigation or the header menu is usually located at the top of the screen and can be seen immediately when you enter the website. The most important menu items of your website should be linked here. These are items that allow users to navigate your website easily. Of course, these differ depending on the orientation of the page and the content you have on those pages. Here are some common main menu items:
Home: Links back to the home page.
Shop, products, or services: Links to what you offer.
Main categories: Links to the blog category pages.
About: About yourself/the company.
Contact: How to contact you.
The Footer menu
A footer menu can also be found on many websites. This often includes menu items that are not as relevant to your readers and items that aren’t absolutely necessary for your site visitors to see. The footer menu is also a good place for all mandatory legal pages, which must be accessible from every page, but are of very little interest to the majority of visitors.
Many WordPress blogs have a sidebar, allowing users to easily navigate the blog or the store. While different widgets can be placed here, menus can too be placed here in the form of a widget. You can usually expect to find links that help you navigate the blog easier.
Because sidebars are a dedicated space within your website’s container, you should consider the mobile version of these sections.
Depending on the theme, however, the sidebar is either not displayed at all or it’s displayed below the main content.
Where can you position the WordPress menu?
WordPress menus help you to fill certain areas of the page with clickable, dynamic menus. Of course, the main focus when creating these menus is the ease of navigation. That is, helping your website visitors easily find what they’re looking for. But individually created menus can also be integrated into widgets and displayed in the footer, sidebar, or other sections on your site.
WordPress offers extensive options for creating and editing menus. With the help of the steps described above, you can create your own menus and assign the desired elements as menu items. These items include pages, posts, categories and more. You can then adjust the order of the menu items, create submenu items, and finally, place them anywhere on your site.