In this video, you will learn how to create navigation menus. I show you how to add, delete, and organize menu items in WordPress websites.
It can be unsettling the first time you create a new page, eagerly hit ‘publish’ to show your creation to the world, only to discover that when someone visits your site they cannot readily find your masterpiece.
In a panic, you go to the WP dashboard, Pages > All, and breathe a sigh of relief when you see it in the list. Your content is safe. But why is your content not readily visible to visitors?
The blogroll appears automatically when you visit the main domain URL, but what about that great About Me page you published, how do visitors find that? You probably missed an important step – adding your new page to the navigation menu. Whew! You’ll know better next time.
To learn more about adding and controlling the navigation structure and items for your website, I recommend that you watch the above video first, then continue reading for further clarification and tips.
The Process of Creating Menus
The placement or location of navigation menus in WordPress depends on the theme. Some themes provide only one menu location, while others enable adding different menus in multiple locations on your site – headers, footers, sidebars.
WordPress provides tools to work with to refine the process of creating custom menus on your website.
These tools give you full control of your website navigation, whether it is in the header area, in the sidebar or in the footer of your site. You will be able to add posts, pages, categories and custom links with ease in locations on your website that your theme allows.
To add a menu, follow the basics steps outlined below. I list them here to reinforce the information included in the video; therefore, I recommend that you view the video first and read the summary as a reminder.
- In the WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Menus.
- Check the drop down list to see the menu names and locations provided by the theme. (Image 2)
- Create a new Menu or use one provided by the theme.
- From the left column, choose the items that you want in the nav menu and click “Add To Menu”. This will add the menu items to the list in the right column. (Image 1)
- Drag and drop to organize menu items and sub items in the order that you want them to appear in the navigation bar.
- When adding items to a drop down list, first create a non-clickable title (as shown in the video).
- The title label will be the non-clickable “parent” and underneath it will be the indented clickable “child” items.
- Add child items by ticking the items in the left column and clicking on the Add To Menu button.
- Tick the box at the bottom of the menu area to choose the display location for that menu (header, footer, sidebar widget)
- Remember to save the menu after modifying it.
- View the site on the web to check that the items are listed in the desired order.
Home Menu Button – Is It Necessary?
WordPress by default has a “Home” page link to the blogroll. Instead of “Home”, I changed mine to “Blog”. You can name the blogroll anything you want.
For a new website the blogroll is recommended as the default landing page for visitors. This is because the blogroll is a dynamic page that is updated each time you add a new post.
Search engines give priority to crawling dynamic content.
Later you can consider changing the page that visitors land on when they first arrive on your site to a static page instead of the blogroll. This depends on your niche and the purpose of your website.
For example, you may want visitors to land on a features page that highlights specials and discounts of the day, week or month. On a more complex website you may want to explain what visitors will find “inside” the various sections of your site and you may want to give them tips for navigating around the site.
Most site visitors know that clicking the Site Title or Logo will take them to the home page or main URL (e.g. yourdomain dot com). In this sense, it is not necessary to have a “Home” button. But I recommend having a “Home” button when using a Static front page display, in which case you would create another page for the blogroll.
Bear in mind that when a website has many repeat visitors, unless the front page is update regularly, it can get boring for regulars to see the same page over and over, especially if they are coming to the website to read the latest content.
A way around that is to feature a few of your latest blog posts on the static front page but most themes do not provide this out of the box. You will need to do this with code or the use of a plugin.
Image and Icons in Menu Navigation Labels
Should you want to get fancy and add images or icons to menu labels, unless you are using a premium theme that provides this option, it will be necessary to add this functionality into the functions.php file of your website (preferably in a child theme).
If you are not technically minded to work with code, you will find plugins that do this.
This can jazz up the look of a website and works well for adding social media buttons. But when used for main internal navigation links, make sure that adding images or icons in the navigation bar does not slow down the loading speed of the site or its responsiveness on mobile devices.
Using WP Customize Panel To Manage Menus
When initially creating and setting up menus, I recommend using the main navigation section as shown in the video and screenshots. Later as you build out the website and add content, you may prefer to quickly add or delete menu items via the Customize option.
Go to Appearance > Customize > Menus and the customize panel appears on left side of the screen as show in the above image.
Working within the customize option has two benefits. The changes will appear in real-time on the right side of the screen. You will be able to see what it looks like on your website before hitting the publish button.
A second benefit is that when making custom code or CSS style modifications in the customize panel, the code is retained during WordPress and theme updates. Before WordPress implemented the Customize feature, if one was not using a child theme the changes were not saved and had to be redone for each update.
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