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How to Add a WordPress Navigation Menu

Your website’s navigation menu is more than just a way for visitors to get around — it’s also a great way to highlight what is important to you and your customers. WordPress lets you clearly and easily present this information in a navigation menu. Most themes and plugins have a built-in navigation menu, but it’s easy to create your own — we’ll cover how below. 

  • Creating a WordPress Navigation Menu
  • Building Out Your WordPress Navigation Menu
  • Placing Your WordPress Navigation Menu

Creating a WordPress Navigation Menu

We’ll be making a navigation menu to serve as the site’s primary menu, but the same process will work for making other menus as well. You may want to make a quick access menu that only shows up on specific pages — the process will work similarly. 

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance and then Menus. You can create and edit menus from this page.
  2. Enter a name for your menu. We’re going with Navigation Menu, but you may want to specify exactly which navigation menu this is if you plan on making a few variations.
  3. WordPress now includes an option to Auto-add top-level pages. If you want WordPress to take care of the menu for you, this can be a good option, especially if you’re still building out your site. You may need to go in and manually edit the menu regardless.
  4. If you plan on making this your main menu, go ahead and check the box for Display location: Primary menu. If you have a WordPress theme installed that already has a designated place for your main Navigation Menu, this will go ahead and place your newly created menu in the right spot for you.
  5. When you’re happy with the settings you’ve picked, click the Create Menu button.

Not sure what was meant by ‘top-level’ under the menu settings when you made your menu? Top-level pages on WordPress sites are things like yoursitename.com/blog, yoursitename.com/shop, and other broad categories that tend to collect lots of other, smaller posts under them. Auto-adding these pages can be helpful when you know you’re only going to be making a few more. If you expect to make dozens of top-level pages, though, we’d suggest that you avoid auto-adding them. A good navigation menu is going to help visitors get to the right place as quickly as possible. Menus with too many entries are frustrating and can be hard to read even with the best themes!

Building Out Your WordPress Navigation Menu

Once you’ve made your menu, you can easily edit it on the same page. First, add items to it by finding pages you want on the menu in the Add menu items box.

Navigation Menu items

Pages: these will include specific, top-level pages on your site. They’ll need to already exist before you add them to your menu. 

Posts: use this to find specific blog posts that you’ve made to your site if you’d rather link to one specifically instead of just linking to your default /posts page. 

Custom Links: you can link to more than just your own site! Want to link to another business, or just somewhere you think is useful? You can link out to other pages here. 

Categories: if you’re making good use of WordPress categories, you can link out to all posts and pages within a category here. This is great for directing visitors to certain high-value types of posts spread out across your site — recipes, songs, and the like. 

Navigation Menu Structure

You can drag menu items around in the Menu Structure area, and even place menu items within other menu items as subcategories. Once you’re done setting up your menu and are happy with the result, be sure to click the Save Menu button to save the changes. 

Placing Your WordPress Navigation Menu

Navigation Menu Locations Dropdown

You’ll head to the Manage Locations tab when you’re ready to place your menu. Most themes lock you into a certain number of menus — and for good reason! Themes are carefully designed to prevent information overload. If you want to add even more menus to your site, you’ll need to find a new theme or edit it directly. 

Blog Navigation Menu

Save the changes, and the menu should show up on your site in the designated location.

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