WordPress 101: Menus

WordPress Menu Admin Page

Written by Brian, Lead Ninja

As a WordPress Ninja, I love to find a way to do things better and faster with technology and then hide in the shadows like I'm not even there. If you want to be on the leading edge, I want to be your ninja guide.

Previously, we talked about your WordPress backup strategy. If you missed that you can check it out again here: Backup Strategy

So, we’ve got a WordPress with some posts and pages in your ever expanding collection of valuable content. We feel secure with a backup and recovery plan because this stuff is valuable but now it is time to make it easier to use. Menus and widgets streamline the use of any website. Lets get started.

You've hopefully added more than one page to your site and noticed how each page auto-magically appears on your top menu on the site in the default order. But hey, that's not exactly what you want. Maybe you want to change the order. Maybe there is a Thank You page that you don't want on the menu. Maybe you want drop down menus. Lets dig in.

Basic Menus

Go to your website and log in. Navigate to the Menus page in the admin:

  • From the admin side (your site's back end), hover over Appearance and click on Menus
  • From the website side (your site's front end), hover over your site name in the upper left hand corner next to the little house and click on Menus

When you land on the menu page for the first time, notice a few things. There s one tab at the top of the page, Edit Menus and two sections in that tab: Add menu items and Menu structure. It's time to take over the magic of WordPress menus.

Add a New Menu

Start in the Menu structure section. There is a field called Menu Name and a button labelled Create Menu. Go ahead and type in "Main Menu" and press the button. The button then changes to Save Menu. Go ahead and do that too. Then take a look at your front end after reloading the page (I usually have the front end open in a new tab so I can easily go between the front end and the back end). Nothing has changed. That's good because we haven't taken over the magic yet.

Back in the Menu structure section it is time to make some changes. Add some links to the menu. In the Add menu items section it defaults to the Pages section expanded. Check one or more of those page's checkboxes and click the Add to Menu button and you'll notice they appeared in the Menu structure section.

I always get excited when I take over the magic and frequently forget this step. Before you go to the front end to check it out, make sure and click Save Menu. Now check it out on the front end. . . NOTHING!

Place the New Menu

Go to the back end for the Menus and notice there is a new tab at the top: Manage Locations. We may have created a new menu but it has no location. It only exists in WordPress' imagination. Give this menu a location then we can check it out:

Open the Manage Locations tab (what you see here is going to be different depending on the theme you have installed)

We see listed out Theme Location and Assigned Menu. Theme location lists the places your theme has set up to hold a menu. Assigned Menu is a list of all the menus you've created on the Edit Menus tab.

Find the main theme location, for me on the default theme it is called Desktop Horizontal Menu click the -- Select a Menu -- drop down and pick the Main Menu we created before and Save Changes.

Now refresh and check out your front end. You are now in control of your menus.

There's a bunch more you can do with menus like reordering the items, tucking the items into drop down menus, and adding links to posts, categories, and external sites. I'm working on some more content to walk you through that so stay tuned.

Sayonara

Your site is starting to look like it's yours. You've customized the menu but that only scratches the surface. Next, we'll talk about Widgets.

Growing up and in college I always wanted to work with Widgets. All the business examples talk about the infamous "Widget Factory". . . not the same thing.

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