Menus refer to the list of links that typically appear at the top of your blog, or in the footer, though menus can technically be applied across numerous widget areas of a WordPress site. All WordPress themes rely on a menu of some sort, because they allow users to easily navigate to various categories and info pages on your site.
This Help Desk article will cover the following topics:
- Important tips on building menus (read if you're new to WordPress!)
- How to create a new menu in the theme Customizer
- Menu Locations
- Opening links in a new browser window/tab
- Information for users with menus from a previous theme
- Other places to edit menus
TWO QUICK, IMPORTANT TIPS
- Menus can confuse new WordPress users, because in addition to creating a menu (i.e., deciding what links should be in the menu), you must also assign that menu to a Menu Location. This article will cover how to do both!
- In WordPress, a Page is not the same as a Category. We find it's common for new WordPress users to refer to the word "Page" when they actually mean a "category" or "archive." If you want to add a link to a menu that will return all posts from a particular vertical—say, fashion, or beauty—you must create categories and add those to your menu. Adding a page will simply link to a static information page. As a live example, check out this link to a category, and this link to a page. Note how one returns a feed of posts, and the second returns a static page with information less likely to change. For help on creating categories, click here. For help more info on posts vs. pages, click here.
This section will be relevant if you are starting a brand new site, OR if you want to remove previously established menus and start over.
1. In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance > Customize. Look for the Menus tab, and click on it. (Note: the location/order of the tab may vary depending on your theme.)
2. If you have already been blogging on WordPress, you may see existing menus in the screen that loads. If you wish to use these existing menus and simply assign them to a new location with your new EmPress theme, click here.
If you are creating your site from scratch, or want to create new menus for your new theme, click the Create New Menu button, as seen at below left:
3. A new panel will load, prompting you to input a menu name, and assign a menu location. While it's not required, we recommend naming each menu after its location (more on this below!). This will help you keep menus organized and remember what’s assigned where, with ease. After you name the menu (in the example above, “Primary”), check off the corresponding menu location, so that WordPress knows where to display your menu within the theme. Then, click Next.
4. A new screen will load, prompting you to Add Items to your menu. Click the button to Add Items.
5. From here, a side panel flyout will appear. Navigate through each heading (Custom Links, Pages, Posts, Categories, Tags), and select the items you wish to add to your menu. The menu should update in real time in the Customizer live site preview on the right, so you can view how your menu will appear on your site once you've published your changes!
- Don't forget: In WordPress, a Page is not the same as a Category. We find it's common for new WordPress users to refer to the word "Page" when they actually mean a "category" or "archive." If you want to add a link to a menu that will return all posts from a particular vertical—say, fashion, or beauty—you must create categories and add those to your menu. Adding a page will simply link to a static information page.
6. All Primary menus (and many Top menus) in EmPress themes support nested dropdowns. To nest an item within a menu, simply drag it to the right, so that it appears indented under the menu link you wish for it to dropdown from. Here is a video to show you this process:
You may nest multiple items to create a dropdown menu with more than one link. You can also created nested dropdowns, so that your dropdowns have dropdowns, too! Below is an example—note the structure of the menu and the indented items on the left, compared to how the dropdowns appear within the Customizer live preview:
The "Outfits" item is in the "Style" dropdown menu, but has additional items indented underneath it, creating the flyout menu seen in the video example above.
7. When you’re satisfied with your menu, either click Publish (if you’re ready to take ALL customization changes you’ve made live), or click the back button in the Customizer, and continue customizing your theme. You must hit Publish before the changes in the Menu tab are committed to your live site.
In WordPress, creating a menu alone won't assign it to a specific area of the theme—instead, you must choose a location for that menu, so the theme knows where you wish to display it. For EmPress themes, Menu Locations are connected to pre-coded and styled areas of your blog. We typically name our menus Top, Primary, and Footer.
Menu Locations can be assigned as you build a menu (refer to step 3 in the section above), or by accessing the Menu Locations panel. This panel is accessible under Appearance > Customize > Menus > View All Locations:
In the panel that loads, a list of all Menu Locations is visible. Within each location dropdown, a list of all the menus you have created will appear. Select the menu of your choice to assign it to particular location. If you do not assign a menu to a location, nothing will appear in that location.
Here are where each of these menus is located, based on theme.
OPENING MENU LINKS IN A NEW WINDOW/TAB
It is possible to turn on link targeting in WordPress menus, so that you may select which menu items should open in a new window or tab. Please refer to this Help Desk article for instructions on how to do this.
If you already have menus in place from a previous theme, simply navigate to Appearance > Customize > Menus > View All Locations. From there, use the dropdowns to assign your existing menus to the new menu locations of your EmPress Theme.
The Customizer is not the only place you can edit a menu. Menus can also be accessed by going to Appearance > Menus. The layout is a bit different from the Customizer, but the menus all work the same way (and, you can drag and drop items into your desired menus as you build). However, if you’re new to WordPress, we recommend editing your menus in the Customizer until you get comfortable with the WordPress dashboard.