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The Power of Custom Menus in WordPress

ByCarmen Proctor

The Power of Custom Menus in WordPress

Wordpress_menuOut of the Box vs. Custom Menus

When you install WordPress out of the box, your new website theme will have a main menu that will default to showing all the parent pages of your site.  If you have set up additional pages with the right hierarchy, and your theme supports sub-levels of navigation, those will also show automatically.

However, what do you do if you want your site to have special links to pages outside your website? Maybe for login screens to your company’s online products?  What if you run a blog site and you want your one of two of your main categories to show up on your navigation for easy access by your visitors?

The Power of Custom Menus in WordPress

There are four main situations that will determine that you need custom menus on your site.  These are:

  • When you need to define a different structure and order of pages on the navigation menu. The regular WordPress menu lets you do that “out of the box”, but the reality is that it is more time consuming to track pages to their “parent page” and also the order to display in the navigation in the Pages section of the dashboard. By using the visual “drag and drop” editor in Appearance -> Menus, you can quickly set up a menu and edit the page order and relationship to a parent page.
  • You want to include a navigation that includes just a handful of your main pages, and leaves others out. By default, WordPress menus include every page you create on your site.  You will use custom menus when you have pages with forms or information that you only want to make available by using a direct link, like your Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, instead of letting them be included in the out of the box navigation.
  • You want to link to a page that is outside your own website, like the login for your application or your Twitter page. We use this for our client websites that are used for the product marketing of a cloud service, and then include a “LOGIN” item on the navigation menu that links the visitor directly to the login page for the system.
  • Your site is content intensive, and you have many blog posts under one specific category that you want to highlight.  One of our IT clients uses the category “Security” as a main navigation item to give their visitors a shortcut to all the blog posts related to Internet and Computer Security, since that is a critical area of information for their site.

So if these are issues you are dealing with, then it’s worth the trouble to set up custom menus for your site.  And, it really only takes a few minutes.

Additional WordPress Menu Training

If you are new to WordPress, and would like to learn more about setting up your site the easy way, check out our online course WordPress Beginning to End: For Non-Techies. Right now we are having a sale for over 4 hours of video training, plus the training manual, only $15.We cover theme selection, design, custom menu and customization, all with almost no technical or programming knowledge.

Happy WordPressing!

About the author

Carmen Proctor administrator

Carmen has been a software project manager, developer, consultant and trainer since 1999. She has extensive experience building and training software development teams in many different technologies. Most recently, she has been building her skills in the front end development arena for web and mobile applications, including technologies like HTML and CSS, frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation, and Content Management Systems like Wordpress.