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We delve into one of the most important features of your site, namely the one that allows you to create and manage a navigation menu on WordPress.
This is a basic functionality, but it is advisable to learn how to use it in the most correct way. The space available within the navigation menus is limited – it is therefore important to know how to best use it.
A menu is like a map that guide visitors to your site in WordPress. If used well it can encourage visitors to spend more time viewing your content and so you will have more opportunities to turn them into paying users.
Menus are a very visible element in a site’s interface, in fact if they are well designed and organized they will make an excellent first impression on visitors.
WordPress offers several options for the management of navigation bars. We will see them all in this guide.
I also speak of this topic in my WordPress video course, where you will find many other useful tips and practical demonstrations for your project. Take a look at all our courses.
First, you need to access the menu configuration page. This is located in Appearance> Menu.
On this screen you can create and edit your menus.
Select the menu to be modified from the drop-down menu (when you create the site, you may have to click “Create new menu“)
On the left, you will see three expandable sections:
- Custom links
By expanding the “Pages” section, you will find a list of all the pages you have created within your site. You can view the most recent ones, show them all or search for a specific one.
To add links to individual pages to the menu, check the corresponding boxes and click “Add to menu”. This way, you will see them appear in the menu structure on the right.
Sometimes, you may need to enter in your navigation menu links to pages that are not part of your site.
In the section “Custom links“You can in fact paste the url of the landing page. In the field “text link“Instead type the item you want it to appear in the menu. Then, click “Add to menu“.
Many latest generation themes allow you to add to the menu non-clickable headers. However, if the template you have installed on your site does not provide it, try this solution that just use custom links.
The third and final section is the one you will use to add your blog’s categories to the menu. The process is always the same: check the items of your interest and click “Add to menu“.
Important note! Depending on the features of your theme or the plugins you have installed on the site, other sections may appear with items to add to the menu.
Let’s now see how to create and manage the navigation menu on WordPress by going to the section located on the right of the screen.
Here, you will find many small blocks, one for each page / link or category you added.
On this page you will see the menu organized in a vertical orientation, but on your page it will appear horizontally (unless your theme uses a vertical menu anyway).
To reposition the individual menu items, you can simply click on each small block and drag it to the desired position.
At the same time, you can create sub-items within your menu by dragging the individual elements slightly to the right. In this way, you will create hierarchies within your menu.
By expanding individual items, you can also customize the actual text that appears on the navigation bar. Simply type the new text into the field “Navigation label“.
Change the text using the field “Navigation label” do not change the name of your page – simply change the item within the menu.
A couple of additional configurations
Scrolling to the bottom of the page, you will find a section called “Menu settings“.
Here are two entries:
- automatically add new top-level pages
- to this menu. By checking the box, you will activate a feature that automatically adds all the new
- to the menu. Personally, I never happened to
- that used it, but it may interest you.
- Position of the theme. This is a very important setting instead. The simplest themes usually have only one navigation bar, called Main menu. The latest generation themes have multiple menus: for example, a head menu throughout the site, or a menu in the footer or a secondary menu below the main one. In correspondence with the item “Position of the theme”, you will find a drop-down menu where you can select – precisely – to which position the menu you have created will be assigned.
You can always work on this aspect by scrolling up and selecting the tab “Position Management“. Here you will see a list of all available positions and, for each of them, you can select the menu to be assigned.
Now that we have seen how to create and manage navigation menus on WordPress using the basic functionality provided by the platform, let’s take a look at some useful plugins to further customize them.
When you are inside the Wall of your WordPress site, browsing in Appearance> Customize, you can use a very useful tool.
The Customize panel, enriched with more features in the latest WordPress updates, allows you to modify different aspects of your site and at the same time see the preview of the changes you have made (before they are definitively saved).
Among the new features added to this tool, there is also the one to manage the navigation menus. When you are inside the Customize panel, click Menu. Here, you can work on the position of the various menus and on the menus themselves.
Directly from this page, you can add and remove pages, reposition them within the menu … all with the preview always visible on the right!
However, I advise you to pay attention to only one detail: when you use the Customize panel, the page width on the right is a little smaller than the normal width. To verify that the menu items occupy the full width of the navigation bar, open your site on another tab.
The plugin Max Mega Menu is a tool that is used to modify and enrich your menus with mega menus.
Within the mega menu, in addition to the classic navigation links, you can also position widgets of your choice.
Also, using this tool, you will create menus that are in any case responsive and optimized for mobile use with touch technology.
To see a preview of the use of the Max Mega Menu plugin, I recommend without a doubt to watch the video below (the video has no audio).
Max Mega Menu is a very popular and appreciated plugin; up wordpress.org has more than 200,000 installations and 5/5 star ratings.
Nav Menu Roles is a simple but extremely effective plugin. Specifically, it serves restrict the display of specific menu items to certain roles.
For example, you could use it to view certain links only when the user has logged in.
But pay attention to one aspect: the Nav Menu Roles plugin displays different menus according to the role of the user. However, it does not limit access to these pages. This means that urls will still be visible to all users regardless of their role.
If, on the other hand, you want to limit access to specific pages, I recommend you take a look at these plugins that allow you to create areas reserved for members.
Nav Menu Roles is highly appreciated by users, has a 5/5 star rating and more than 100,000 installations. Users generally appreciate the fact that this plugin allows you to hide menu items based on the role of users.
Sometimes, the mobile view provided by WordPress themes is not ideal. If this is the case with your template, I suggest you try using the WP Responsive Menu plugin.
This tool goes to overwrite the configurations of your menu (only those relating to the mobile version) to make it perfectly visible from smartphones and tablets.
It allows you to hide unnecessary elements and also uses touch technology.
Having a site that comes displayed correctly on all mobile devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) is extremely important and Google rewards sites that apply responsive design.
Read our guide: “Create responsive pages with the Page Builder plugin” to know more.
WP Responsive Menu has over 70,000 installations and 4.5 / 5 star ratings.
Menu Image is a very nice plugin that is used to add images to your menu items.
If you wish, for each item, you can also add two images – so as to create an effect when the user moves the cursor over it – and even hide the label, displaying only the graphics.
With these tools, in addition to creating and managing navigation menus on WordPress, you can also customize them as you wish.
Menu Image is not as popular as the other plugins mentioned, but still has a good number of installations (more than 60,000) and 5/5 star rating.
In this guide we have seen how create and manage navigation menus on WordPress and further customize them thanks to the use of plugins.
What do you think about it? Have you ever thought of personalizing the navigation bar of your site? Or have you decided to keep it simple, as expected from your theme?
For any comments or questions, leave your message below.
See you next guide!