A Helpful Guide to WordPress Menus

July 29, 2019

Menus are crucial to websites.They serve as the primary means of navigation, and immediately give the user a good idea of what the business has to offer. They are also one of the first things that a user sees when visiting a new site, so it’s important to make a good first impression. Site menus are high risk; if they are broken or confusing to use, users will abandon your site at lightning speed. On the other hand, if you have a fully functioning, aesthetically pleasing menu, users are more likely to continue to use your site. It’s imperative that we fully understand how to make, and update menus in our WordPress sites, because who would go to a restaurant where they couldn’t even understand the menu?   

How to Create a Menu 

A site without a menu? Unusable. The first step in creating the perfect menu is to of course, make a menu. In WordPress, this process is fairly straightforward:

  1. Login to your WordPress site, and navigate to the dashboard.
  2. On the left hand side, select “Appearance” then the “Menus” option to reveal the menu editor.
  3. Select “create new menu” at the top of the page under the “edit menus” tab.
  4. Add a menu name.This will only be viewed by you and other editors of your site; users will not be able to see the menu names. This just serves a descriptive and organizational purpose to assist you in the case that you have multiple types of menus.
  5. Be sure to press “create menu” when you are finished, so that all of your hard work doesn’t disappear. 
  6. Now, “menu settings” should appear. Under the “menu settings” section there are “display locations” options. You do not need to select where the menu will be displayed right away, but you will have to eventually, so it can be helpful to do so in the beginning of the process. 
    1. A primary menu is the main menu for a site, it appears in the top navigation bar of a site. For example, the primary menu on our site is in the top black bar and reads “About, Our Work, Blog.” Every site has a primary menu, but not every site has a secondary or footer menu. It’s also possible for one menu to appear in more than one of these display locations.
    2. A secondary menu is placed below the header bar and can be used on pages where you need another level of organization for your content.
    3. A footer menu is simply a menu that appears in your footer — the very bottom section on a webpage. 
    4. For another way to view menu location options, you can navigate to appearance > customize > menus.
  7. Anytime you make changes to your menu, be sure to select “save menu.”

How to Add Pages to a Menu

A site menu needs pages. Here’s how to add your beautiful pages to your menu.

  1. Select “appearance” on the left side of the WordPress dashboard, then the “menus” option.
  2. Be sure that the correct menu is selected for this process. It’d be a shame to place the page under the wrong menu. 
  3. Check which page(s) from the box on the left that you wish to add to the menu. 
    1. You’ll notice that there are a couple other options that you can add to your menu: custom links, posts, categories, and more. Adding these are fairly easy, and can be done in pretty much the same way as adding pages.
  4. Select the “add to menu” button.
  5. If you wish to change the order that the pages appear on the menu in, simply drag them into the desired order.
  6. Select the “save menu” button.

How to Add Child Pages to a Menu

What’s a child page you ask? Well, a child page is essentially a subpage, that lives under another main page, called a “parent page.” You can navigate to a child page one of two ways: hover over the parent page in the menu, and a dropdown menu of child pages appear, or when you are on the actual parent page, there may be a link to its child page. Child pages are quite common, and very useful. For example, on our site, the page “Our Work” is a parent page to several child pages. If you visit the “Our Work” page, “Jack Brown’s” is a child page, as are all of the other clients listed on the page. For the purpose of the “Our Work” page, we did not add the child pages to the menu, but it’s easily done. Follow the steps below to add child pages to a dropdown menu under its respective parent page.

  1. Navigate to the dashboard and select “Appearance” then the “Menus” option to reveal the menu editor.
  2. Add the parent page and the child page(s) like we did in the previous section.
  3. Hover your mouse over the child page so that you can drag it, as if you are going to move it. Then, instead of moving the page up or down, move it directly under the parent page, with a slight amount of space to the left of the child page (as if you pressed the tab button). This space to the left of the child page is crucial, because it will denote that its a child page, not just a regular page. 
  4. If you did it right, the child page should say “sub item” next to the page’s title.
  5. Press “save menu.”

How to Delete Pages from a Menu 

This may be the easiest part. Why is deleting your work always so much easier than creating it?

  1. Navigate to the same menu editor again by selecting “Appearance” and then “Menus.”
  2. To delete a page, simply click on the triangle to the right of the page’s name. Then press remove.
    1. It’s important to note that this does not delete the page itself, it merely deletes that page from that particular menu.
  3. Press “save menu.” 

How to Delete a Menu

  1. Navigate to the same menu editor from the prior examples.
  2. In the “menu structure” section, you’ll notice red text in the lower left corner that reads “delete menu,” click this.
  3. You’re done! How easy was that?