How to setup a WordPress DropDown Menu

If you want your WordPress site to be a success, you have to remember two golden rules.
1. Content is king

2. Your content needs to be easily accessible.

Expert bloggers have addressed the first golden rule numerous times.If your visitors have to move around your site like lost puppies trying to look for information; believe me your site will take a serious hit in the long run. It impacts your readership. Period.

Setting up a WordPress dropdown menu

Today we will discuss the navigation of your content on your WordPress site. Let’s see how to setup a WordPress dropdown menu to make your quality content easily accessible.

Let’s see how to setup a WordPress dropdown menu to make your quality content easily accessible.

Using the default WordPress Menus option

Usually, you can setup navigation menus through the WordPress menu manager tool found at WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Menus. This menu manager tool is the core feature of WordPress. Depending on your WordPress theme you might come across a different interface, but the functions would mostly work the same.

WordPress dropdown menu - Menu manager tool

Let’s start by creating a menu

We are using the Twenty Sixteen theme for this tutorial to create menus. Click on the Create a new menu option to add a new navigation menu and customize it.

WordPress dropdown menu creating a menu
Specify a meaningful name for your menu, like ‘primary menu’ or ‘main menu’ or ‘header menu,’ etc. Then click the Create Menu button.
 WordPress dropdown menu - creating a menu

After clicking on the Create Menu button, you are all set to customize and build your new navigation menu.

Building the navigation menu with menu items

It is pretty easy to add already published posts/pages to the menu. Simply select the items from the left column and click on the Add to Menu button.

 WordPress dropdown menu - Adding menu items

You can add links to published posts/pages, Shop page (if you run a marketplace site). Also, you can add custom links to redirect to a specific URL. You can add a navigation menu for categories as well. By default, you will see Pages, Posts, Links, and Categories in the left column. In case you want to add posts or tags to your menu, click on the Screen Options tab in the top right corner of the screen.

WordPress dropdown menu - showing tags

After adding the desired menu items to the navigation menu, do not forget to click on the Save Menu button.

Organizing menu structure

When you add multilevel menu items to the menu, sometimes they might not be nested properly. To resolve this, use the drag and drop gesture to arrange the menu items in the desired hierarchical view.
WordPress dropdown menu - organizing menu structure

Using the drag and drop gesture you can create multi-level menus. It is advised to keep the multi-level menus depth to only one level for better usability.

A peek at the Menu Settings

Now that you have created a WordPress dropdown menu, let us take a look at the menu settings.

WordPress dropdown menu - menu settings

The menu settings allow you to choose where the new navigation menu will be displayed. As mentioned earlier, each theme offers different settings so go ahead and experiment. In the Twenty Sixteen theme, you will see the settings as seen in the screenshot above. You can choose one or more Theme locations to display the menu.

The option automatically add new top-level pages to this menu will work as it says. Pages will be added automatically, it is wise to leave this option unchecked. Again, do not forget to save the changes to the menu by clicking on the Save Menu button.

Managing Menu Locations

After creating one or more menus, you can control their locations using the Manage Locations tab in the menu manager tool. The locations available will depend on your theme.

WordPress dropdown menu - managing menu locations

Create multiple navigation menus and choose which menu to display where. Click Save Changes button to apply the settings.

WordPress dropdown menu preview

Using the Live Preview for managing menus

You can also use the Live Preview interface to manage navigation menus. Head over to the Menus option in the WordPress customizer and follow the same procedure for creating and editing menus on your WordPress site.

WordPress dropdown menu - using live preview

Using the WordPress Menu Widget

You can display menus in the sidebar in WordPress. WordPress offers a Custom Menu widget which you can use to add a custom menu within the sidebar, other widgetized areas, and footers. This is a great way to showcase exclusive content of your site. Navigate to WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets. Look for the Custom Menu Widget.

WordPress dropdown menu - custom menu widget
Once you have added the widget to your sidebar or other widget area, choose the menu which you want to be displayed. You can use an existing menu or create one exclusively for your widget areas.

Final thoughts

Managing navigation menus is a piece of cake when it comes to WordPress. You do not need to code anything, just use the menu manager tool and create WordPress dropdown menu in matter of minutes. All it takes is a few clicks.

Remember, when it comes to navigation menus – less is more. Never clutter your navigation menus with too many items. Try to keep the multi-level dropdown menus to only one level of depth. Keep it updated with the latest content. Use navigation menus to highlight your most exclusive content. Also, the first and the last menu item is the most popular eye catcher for visitors.

WordPress For Beginners

If you are just getting started with WordPress, you might find yourself looking for help with WordPress Basics like creating a menu.
We recommend checking out Shawn’s WP101 video tutorials for those who are just getting started with WordPress. He has a few free video tutorials too for those looking for an ‘Introduction To WordPress’ covering topics like ‘What is WordPress’ and other similar topics.


Easy WordPress tutorial videos for beginners
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