Menu Management in WordPress

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The typical WordPress site includes a menu across the top or in the sidebar allowing users to navigate to various pages and posts. As any seasoned WordPress user knows, these menus can quickly get out of control if they are not managed properly. Smooth and efficient navigation requires organizing menus in a way that is easy to understand, intuitive, and mobile-friendly.

There are a number of different ways to manage your menus in WordPress. First, you could generate the code manually and paste it into your various pages. However, if you knew how to do that, you probably wouldn’t be using WordPress anyway. Therefore, for those with limited coding experience, there are a couple of other options.

Page Set-Up Options

When you create a new page, you should notice the ‘Page Attributes’ dialogue box on the right side of the screen. This box lets you set specific parameters including parent page, template, and page order. You can use the page order drop-down to determine the order of pages in your main menu. Ordering begins with ‘0’. If you do not set page order, they would appear in the default menu in whatever order you created them.

For example, consider a website with Home, About Us, and Services pages. The first page on the menu should be ordered at 0; the second page should be number 1; the third page should be number 2, and so on.

Menu Admin Panel

Determining the menu order page by page is not difficult for small sites. Nevertheless, it can quickly become impossible for sites with a dozen or more pages. A better option for larger sites is to use the Menu Structure component in the admin panel. To do so, go to the Dashboard and select ‘Appearance’ and ‘Menus’.

The first menu to appear should be the Main Menu your site uses by default. Under Menu Structure, you should see all the pages currently in your default menu. You can drag and drop within this window as you see fit. Dropping a new menu directly underneath one above will establish it as a separate menu entry in that order. If you drop a menu item slightly off centre – to the right – it will be recognized as a sub-menu of the item above it.

To the left, you should see the ‘Pages’ dialogue box. Here you will see a list of every page you have created – even if it does not appear in your main menu. Any pages you want to add can be included just by checking the boxes next to them and clicking the ‘Add to Menu’ button. You can then drag and drop them as you would any other menu item.

Mobile Menus

If you are using a template with responsive features already built-in, you may not have to do anything to get your menus to render correctly on smartphones and tablets. If not, you will need a plugin to create mobile menus. A good option is a plugin known as WPR Menu.

Getting your menus under control is a simple and easy way to attract and keep visitors. Ignoring menus is a quick way to drive visitors away. It’s entirely up to you.

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