Today I’m continuing with my WordPress 101 series. This series is based on common questions I get from clients and bloggers on how to best use WordPress. Today I’ll be covering WordPress menus. How to create WordPress menus, add links, pages, categories and how to add drop downs!
What is a menu?
The menu, also called a navigation bar, is a section on your blog or website that has links to various pages or places within your blog. Menus can also include links to pages outside your blog to places such as your shop or social media.
Depending on your theme you can have one or multiple menus and they can be located in a variety of places. That being said most themes include 1-3 menus and they are usually located in your header area, above your header, and sometimes the footer.
For example my blog, at the time of this writing, has one menu located above my header. However, Karen’s blog (one of my clients), has two menus – above and below her header.
One of the common misconceptions about menus is that pages will automatically show up on your menu and that’s not the case. Not unless you’ve specifically set it up this way.
Additionally, if you want add pages, categories, or tags to a menu, you need to create them before trying to add them to the menu. To create a new page go to Pages -> Add New. To create a new category go to Posts -> Categories.
How To Create Your WordPress Menus
From your WordPress dashboard go to Appearance -> Menus. If you’re on a brand new blog or website, you’ll first need to create a new menu. To do that, click on the blue link or blue buttons that say “Create New Menu” and give your menu a name.
From here on out you will see two sections on this page. On the left hand side you will see the toggle options that will allow you do add new links to your menu. On the right hand side of the screen you will see your Menu Structure in outline form.
You’ll need to select a location for your menu. You can do this at the bottom of the Menus page under “Menu Settings”. For most themes this is either Primary or Secondary Navigation. Check you themes’ documentation to learn where each of these menus will be located on your theme.
Adding Pages To Your Menu
By default, the Pages toggle will be expanded. Under this toggle, select the pages you want to add to your menu and click “Add to menu”. You will now see the pages in the right hand side structure / outline of your menu.
Adding Categories to your menu
Expand the Categories toggle on the left hand side. As you did with the pages, select the categories you want to add to your menu and click “Add to Menu”. The categories links will appear in the structure / outline of your menu.
Adding A Custom Link to your menu
So what if you have a shop outside of your blog or website, or want to link to another website altogether? You can do this under “Custom Links”. Expand the “Custom Links” toggle. In the “URL” box, enter the link. In the “Link Text” box enter the text you want to appear in your menu. Like this –
Link Text: Etsy Shop
Adding drop downs to your menu can be a great way to add more links to your menu without cluttering it up. Use drop downs to group like-links together, such as multiple categories or sub-categories.
- Create a blank custom link and title it “Categories” or whatever you need it to be. In the URL box simple enter “#”. Add the custom link to your menu structure.
- Add the categories or pages to your menu as detailed above.
- Once all your links have been added, drag them below the custom link you just added – or below whatever link you need them under.
The final result will be an indented Menu Structure, like this –
- After a link has been added to your Menu Structure you can rearrange their order by dragging and dropping them within the Menu Structure.
- You can edit the text that shows in your menu by clicking the down arrow in the menu link and changing the text in the “Navigation Label” box.
- Remember to always click “Save” when you’re done editing your menu. Otherwise all your hard work will be lost and you’ll be a sad panda.
Bonus: Have a link open in a new tab / window
By default all links in your menu will open in the same tab or window. But what if you want one these links, specially a link to an outside website, open in a new tab or window? True story: I was on WordPress for 2.5 years before I knew this option is built into WordPress.
On the top right corner of the Menus page, click where it says “Screen Options”. A menu will toggle down. On the second group of options, under “Show Advanced Menu Properties”, check the box by “Link Target”.
Now go to the link you want to have open in a new tab or window in your Menu Structure, click the down arrow. Under the “Navigation Label” box you will now see a check box labeled “Open link in a new tab”, check that. Save your menu.
Want to see it all in action? Watch the video below! 🙂