One of the most basic, yet mystifying tasks for your blog is how to add a custom menu in WordPress. (For the non-technical among us this task might be called how do I get new pages I create to appear in my navigation.)
First – an anatomy lesson. You blog’s navigation is traditionally located in one of two places: directly below the header or directly above. Depending on blog design you may have the option of either placement.
Now not all themes have the ability to create a custom menus in their navigation although it’s very common and if you’re trying to figure out why your new pages aren’t showing up in your navigation bar, then you most certainly do have the ability to do this on your site.
To access your custom menu in WordPress, start in your dashboard and click on Appearance–>Menus.
Creating Your First Custom Menu
To create your first custom menu for your site, for example stancespice.com, you’ll need to do 2 things. Populate the menu and assign your new menu to a Theme Location.
First, make that new menu:
- Choose a name for your custom menu. If you are going to have multiple menus, naming them based on location or purpose will help you not get them mixed up.
- Populate the menu with Custom Links (great for linking to social media profiles or outside websites), Pages or Categories (by selecting a category, that page in your navigation will display all the posts from that category.)
- Reorder your new menu by dragging and rearranging your items into the desired order.
- Save the new custom menu.
Second, assign the custom menu to it’s Theme Location:
- Located at the top left of the Menu screen is the theme location section. You may have one or more available sections depending on your theme. (Also, if you theme does not have the ability to use custom menus a message will appear to that regard.)
- Assign the new custom menu to your desired location.
- Save the changes.
Creating Drop Downs in Your Custom Menu
Custom Menus is also the same section of your WordPress dashboard where you make drop downs in your navigation.
To create those cool drop downs, simple add the page, custom link or category to your menu and place it directly below the item you wish it to “drop” from. Next, drag it to the right until it is slightly offset.
Save the changes and you’ve got yourself a drop down! You can add more submenus (or drop downs) by offsetting items underneath the first offset page as well but keep in mind your reader as this arrangement of multiple submenus isn’t that easy to use.
Using Custom Menus in your Sidebar
Your WordPress site also has a cool widget called Custom Menus that you can access through the Appearance–>Widgets screen.
This widget allows you to place any of your custom menus in a widgetized area (usually sidebars and footers) of your blog.
Why would you want to do this? Well there are a lot of reasons. If you want to keep your header section very clean and minimal, it allows you to add navigation to your sidebar easily.
Many blogs have either a category list or drop down in their sidebar. Depending on how you’ve used categories, yours might be a bit messy or non user friendly. You can create a custom menu with a list of just your main categories and then display that in your sidebar.
Have recipes on your site? Use this same feature to create a sidebar menu that highlights your food by course, cuisine or preparation without adding a whole bunch of widgets to your site.
Want to create a blogroll?
You can do that through custom menus too, by utilizing the Custom Link feature discussed above.
Does your site have the ability to use custom menus? What do you use them for?