How To Add A Menu In WordPress

Adding a menu in WordPress is easy - you can work it out pretty quickly even if you are brand new to WordPress. But it's good to know what should go in the menu and where each menu should be placed at early stage. Because building a menu structure involves your post categories, and it can be a cumbersome job to re-categorize your already published posts at a later date. A menu bar - or a navigator - as the name suggests, plays a vital role to navigate users to the right page. So today I'll talk about how to add a menu in WordPress in the most organized way.

How To Add A Menu In WordPress

Header Menu and Footer Menu

A website usually have Main (Header) menu and Footer menu. You can also add a supplementary menu in the side bar, but a "sidebar menu" is not always necessarily effective, because it will automatically be displayed right at the bottom of the page in mobile device, i.e. before the footer menu.

Header Menu

This may sound obvious, but the core information that you provide in your blog articles should all be found from the header menu. Header menu is an "Attention, please!" menu. Any information that you want your readers to know, and any actions that you want your readers to take should be there, such as;

  • Categories and sub-categories
  • "Getting Started"
  • Pricing, if you have a service website.
  • "Contact Me/Us" if you want them to contact you.
  • "About Me" - good way to let users know how approachable you are.

Footer Menu

Whereas any information that you don't need your readers to know can be a little less openly accessible. Items listed in Footer menu are normally individual pages. Such as;

Think of yourself as a user - you are attending this particular event tomorrow morning. You just want to quickly find out what time the venue opens. You are in the event organizer's homepage. Where would you look? You'd be looking for a category like "Future Events", or perhaps "Event Diary" from the header menu bar, I guess?

Now event organizer's point of view, they want you to come to the venue in time and that's important for them. Then they should make sure to include tomorrow's event on top of "Future Events" and make it accessible from the header menu. So that whatever the page of their website you've landed, you can access to this vital information. I hope this makes sense. Important information link = put it under Header menu!

Create Categories

Following the example in my previous post - I have just built a website about vegan leather for men. I will continue with this example, and firstly create some post categories and subcategories.

Right now, I can only think about two types of posts that I'm going to publish. One is vegan-leather product reviews, and the other one is about animal welfare issues in general. So I have created 2 x main categories; "Vegan Leather Reviews" and "Stop Wearing Animals".

The reviews can be sub-categorized by type of products, so I have added "Jackets + Coats", "Shoes" and "Wallets". Now I'm adding "Belts".

Add new categories
  • 1
    From the left-side menu of WordPress, go to "Posts" then "Categories".
  • 2
    I have already added 2 x main categories and 3 x subcategories under "Vegan Leather Reviews" category. 
  • 3
    Now I'm adding another subcategory "Belts". The parent category should also be "Vegan Leather Reviews".
  • 4
     Click "Add New Category" and all my categories are set.

What's important is not to over-complicate it. Not to create too many categories. In other words, always think of the users' point of view. Do you really want to have wallets, belts, watch straps, bags etc, in separate categories? Or you want them all in an "Accessories" category?

There's no right or wrong answer. If you intend to publish hundreds of posts pretty soon, you can have "Accessories" as a subcategory under "Vegan Leather Reviews", then have "Wallets" "Belts" and so on as sub-sub-category under "Accessories". That's just an idea.

Create Your First (Header) Menu

  • 1
    From the left-side menu of WordPress, go to "Appearance" then "Menus".
  • 2
    Click "Create A New Menu".
  • 3
    Menu Name - name anything you like. I just simply named it "Header Menu".
  • 4
    Add menu items from here.
Add menu

Any of the (a) categories and (b) any webpage URL can be add to your menu. It means;

  • Pages: For example, your landing page, lead generation (i.e. email subscription) page, contact form page, "About Me" page can go in the main header menu.
  • Posts: If you want one or more of your posts to draw a particular attention, you can also add to your menu. For example a post about seasonal sales ("Vegan leather wallet sale starts next week!") you can add it to the menu temporarily.
  • Custom Links: You can also add any URL to the menu, someone else's webpage for information, for example.
  • Categories: In most of the menu bar in WordPress themes, main categories will be permanently visible and subcategories will appear (as a dropdown) when a user points at the main category.
Main Menu added

Here, I've added all the categories and subcategories (above image left), and the menu will look like this (above image right).

Create A Footer Menu

As I explained earlier on, less important information can be listed in the footer menu bar. Having said that, there's no rule - you don't have to have a footer menu at all. But it's best to have the legal stuff accessible such as Privacy Policy and your affiliate disclaimer page. You can also repeat the main (header) menu items in the footer menu.

Add Footer Menu
  • 1
    Click "Create A New Menu"
  • 2
    Name it "Footer Menu".
  • 3
    Click "Create Menu" button to save it.
Set Menu Location
  • 4
    Click "Manage Location" tab.
  • 5
    Primary menu is previously set to Header Menu. Now set the footer menu by choosing your "Footer Menu" from the drop down list. Click "Save Changes".
Add Footer Items
  • 6
    Now click "Edit Menus" tab.
  • 7
    Make sure "Footer Menu" is selected in this bit!
  • 8
    Add menu items just like explained in the header menu section above.

Save....and it's done!

How To Add A Menu In WordPress - Key Tips

  • Any items you want your visitors to find should be accessed from the header menu. You can list a particular post as a standalone header menu item, to draw attention.
  • Always think about menu items in users' point of view. What are your pages/posts about, and are they in the category that user would look for?
  • Name of each menu item should be reasonably short, so that the header menu bar will fit in one line in desktop and tablet screen (it doesn't have to, but it will look nice & neat).

Any thoughts or questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment below!

Ray Alexander

Hi! I’m Ray. Over the past 15+ years I have been involved with web designing, programming and online marketing. I work from home and have a passion for exploring new tools, services and programs in order to make money online. I’m here to help you succeed in building a profitable business by sharing my experiences. Any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

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