computer and table

Changing Your Navigation Menu in WordPress

Introduction

A simple horizontal menu contains a row of links to the most important areas of your website and will help visitors understand the structure of your content. If you are following the codes and conventions of web design, your main navigation menu will probably be located at the top of the screen because this is where users expect to find the most important information. It will also appear on all your pages, so it needs to be efficient and effective.

When you upload a theme and import lots of demo content, the navigation menu will be populated with links to the sample pages and default templates. Some themes, including those from the WordPress Directory, come with impressive mega-menus with drop downs and thumbnails, but you might want a less complex and straightforward menu for your product.

In this guide, we are going to create a primary navigation menu in WordPress that should help you meet the demands of your coursework brief.

Step One – Go to the Menu Work Area

Once you are logged into the backend of your site and reached the WordPress administration screen, on the main navigation menu on the left-hand side of the screen, hover over “Appearance” and click “Menus”.

Since each theme is unique and the main WordPress menu is populated with very different plugin options, you might have to scroll down and look closely for “Appearance” if you are not yet familiar with your list. Appearance is usually where you can also change themes, customise your site, such as updating your site identity, and manage your widget areas, but there could be other links. For example, in this screenshot, you can edit the header and background.

Once you find and click “Menus”, a new work area will open on your screen.

The Menus Option

Step Two – Create a New Menu

You can select a menu to edit from the drop box, but we are going to take a lazier option. Just click the “create a new menu” link.

In the example below, there are three existing menus in the dummy content that came with the theme. Please note, when only one menu is available, there will not be an option to select an alternative. You still need to click “create a new menu”.

create new menu button
Create New Menu

Step Three – Give the Menu a Unique Name

Look for the “Menu Structure” column. This is where you need to give your new menu a unique name. In the following example, “Main Menu” is used, but you want to use something that is a little more unique or specific to your site identity.

screenshot menu name field
Menu Name Field

Step Four – Add Pages to your Menu

We need to add pages and links to menu. For your cross-media product, this will include the About Us and Contact pages. Unfortunately, you cannot search for “About Us” and expect the program to return the page. Instead, select the “View All” tab and then scroll down the box to find the pages you want to add to the menu. Tick the boxes and click the “Add to menu” button.

Of course, you can always come back to this work area and add other pages you want your users to visit.

Step Five – Arrange the Pages

screenshot of WordPress Menu Interface

Your “Menu Structure” will now change because the pages have been added. The name of each page is in bold and aligned to the left in each rectangle. If you click the “Page” and arrow icon on the right, it will open an area where you can make a few tweaks to the navigation link or delete it entirely.

Importantly, hovering over one of the rectangles and pressing the left mouse button enables you to drag and drop the link. Have a go at changing the order of the links to get used to this functionality.

Step Six – Save the Menu

Once you decide the way you want your links to appear in your media product, scroll down to reveal the “Menu Settings” section. In this area, you will be able to set your new menu to appear at the top of each page.

Hopefully, your theme will have “Main Navigation” like in the example below so select that option. Each theme is different so you might have to look carefully for the correct box.

save menu button
Remember to save your menu

Finally, hit the “Save Menu” and wait a brief moment for WordPress to update. Then, pick a page from your site and check the menu has been changed!

Conclusion

Changing the main navigation menu is an important step to making the website feel more like your own. It is also a relief to get rid of all the random links that come with the theme’s demo content. Update the navigation bar and give your visitors the best experience.

If you would like to reinforce your understanding of the different aspects of the software, our introduction to WordPress contains quick explanations of the key concepts.

Further Reading

Thanks for reading!