A Visual Guide to WordPress Menus

If your inclination is to reduce the usage of plugins on your WordPress site, you’d be happy to know that most themes, on their basic level, intrinsically offer a variety of menu options for a fantastic visual appeal.

For reference, this site is built on the WP Twenty Twenty theme using WP version 5.8.1, and the menus are not created via any plugins. Perhaps they won’t grab any design awards, but they certainly do the job, keep the code clean & lean, are functional, match the overall look and feel, and thereby contribute positively to the perceptible design of the site.

Which Items Can You Add to WP Menus?

list of items that can be added to WP menus
List of items that can be added to WP menus.

As demonstrated in the image above, the most recent WP versions with any theme should allow you to add the following components to the site menu:

  • Pages: With this option, you can add hyperlinks to the pages you want your site users to go to — from your WordPress menus.
  • Posts: You can do the same here, except for WP posts.
  • Custom Links: This choice will let you add your own customized hyperlinks.
  • Categories: As the name suggests, this will let you include links to your category pages.

In WordPress, What Are the Different Types of Menu Options Available?

5 different types of menu that can added to a WP site
The five distinct types of menu that can be added to a WP site that uses the Twenty Twenty theme.

Dependent on the theme, WordPress can provide up to 5 or more unique menu types. In some themes, it might be less than five.

On the Twenty Twenty theme, the types of distinctive menus are:

  • Desktop Horizontal Menu
  • Desktop Expanded Menu
  • Mobile Menu
  • Footer Menu
  • Social Menu

Many site owners prefer to serve disparate menu choices to site users contingent on the type of device they use and their screen sizes. With WP, that predisposition can be easily tailored and customized — as that purpose is already inherent in the CMS — and again, dependent on the theme.

Additionally, you can create as many different menus as you want and assign them to the menu type. For example, say your “menu 1” has 10 items, and “menu 2” has 5 items. What you can do is that you can tell WordPress that for my footer menu, use “menu 1.” For my social menu, use “menu 2.”

Note that you do not need to use all of the different menu types. You can control and dictate this behavior from the Main Menu page.

Once there, scroll all the way down, and you will see a separate section with the name of “Menu Settings” that will have checkboxes associated with all menu types.

Pick the ones you want to be displayed on your site, and then save your changes.

WP menu settings that allows to choose which menu types to display on a site
The Menu settings allows a WP site user to decide which Display Locations they want to use or not use.

Creating a New Menu in WordPress

how to create a new menu in WordPress
How to create a new menu in WordPress.

To create a new menu in WordPress, navigate to the main menu settings, and right underneath the two primary tabs on top, there will be a message that says, “Edit your menu below, or create a new menu. Don’t forget to save your changes!”

Click on create a new menu hyperlink to get started.

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In Closing

Menus are one of the most significant components of any site. They embellish and present a real practical and helpful navigation solution to the different sections and pages.

When it comes to WordPress, the pre-built menu configurations are very well thought out — keeping in mind all of the various ways a publisher may want to show their menus, sub-menus, and all of the items within.

On an ending note, WordPress also furnishes the ability to tinker with menus with a Manage with Live Preview service. This way, before publishing any changes & edits, they can be previewed to see if that is indeed what a site owner wants to make live.

WordPress menu manage with live preview
WordPress “Manage with Live Preview” option for Menus.