Custom Menus in WordPress - How to Create and Manage Them Easily

WordPress is one of those platforms where you can do almost anything as it comes with all the necessary customization options to make your site look just the way you want. It lets you create your own menus by just clicking a few buttons in the WordPress dashboard.

It's very important to have intuitive and well-organized menus that ease your users' way of finding what they need on your site. Organize and structure your categories thoroughly because a menu should work like a map for your website. It should easily guide your visitors to the content they're looking for.

How to create custom menus in WordPress

To create a custom menu is actually really simple. I used Twenty Fifteen, WordPress' defaut theme, to show you all the steps you need to take to build your own menus. Let's take it one step at a time.

To customize the default menu of your website, you have to enter the WordPress dashboard, click on Appearance and then on Menus. The first thing you need to do is to give the menu a name and press the  Create Menu button.

create menu

After you created it, you may start to add the items. All your website's categories, posts, and pages are gathered in the left column and you can simply add them to your menu from there in just a few clicks.

First of all, you need to click on Pages and View All. Select all the items you want to become items for your menu.

pages view all

I selected all of them for the test, but you should use only the ones you need.

After you selected the items, you might want to switch their order. All you have to do is to drag and drop them in the desired location. This is how you're going to organize your menu to which you can lately add sub-menus as well.

drag and drop items

Sub-menus will work like drop-down menus. If you want a certain item to belong to another one, all you need to do is to drag it a bit to the right, right below the "parent item".


So - to resume all the above - to use the main menu item, drag it everywhere you want, but make sure it is in line with the others. If you want to make a sub-menu, drag the item a bit to the right immediately below the parent item.

How to choose the menu's location

Now, that you have the menu ready, it's time to choose where you want it to appear. But there's an important thing to know about this. Not all the themes support many menus. The default number of menus is two: primary and social. Then, depending on each theme's customization options, you can use more. For instance, some themes let you create secondary or footer menus besides the default ones.

A secondary menu is usually written with smaller fonts and comes as a complementary menu, with some extra information that's not essential like the one in the first menu, but can be useful for the visitors and can save their time as well.

The footer menu will obviously go in the footer and can contain items like "Contact", "About us", or any other thing that can be found in the primary menu too, but can work as another quick way of reaching the information for the user.

Now, in my case, you will only see two menu options - primary and social - because Twenty Fifteen theme supports only these too. But if your theme provides more menus, you can manage them from the "Manage locations" tab right here:

manage locations

So, it's your choice how many menus you're using. If you're planning to use more than two menus, check the theme's settings before to see if it allows you to do so.

How to delete and rename menu items

To delete items from the menu, click on each page's small arrow in the right and you'll see a few details about that page. And down below, the Remove button. Click on it and that item will be deleted.


Do the same for renaming the menu items. Click on their current name and change it. Then click on one of the two Save Menu blue buttons above and below the editing box after you made the changes.

rename item

Drop-down menus?

Remember when I said to just drag items a bit to the right to turn them into sub-pages? Well, to create drop-down menus, you need to do the same thing. You can create sub-pages for any existing sub-page too.

You can play with the pages, test how they look on your homepage and arrange them the way you want because you can always come back to the initial structure. You can arrange and re-arrange them until you'll get the wanted drop-down menu.

How to add links to your menu

As you probably already noticed, you can use links for each of the menu items. All you need to do is to click on Links button in the left column and add a certain link for each page in the menu you just built. Click on Custom Links, add the page URL and its name, and press Add to Menu. The links are useful for those cases when you want to link to a page that was not listed in the left column.

custom links

You can also change the link of a menu item by clicking on the right arrow I was talking about earlier and modify the URL. You can link to one of your website's page addresses or to an external link. For instance, if you want a menu item to lead to Google's main page, you can add it through the Custom Links button.

modify url

Want to add post categories to your menu as well? Click on the Categories tab in the same left column and select the ones that will appear in your menu. Proceed in the same way you did with the other items. I don't have any categories at the moment because it's a test site and I didn't post anything by now.

categories view all

How to add a social menu

To create a menu for your social accounts is even simpler than creating a regular one. Go to Create new menu, write a name, and click Create Menu.

create new menu

The next step is to check the Social Links Menu box and use the Links tab. So, click on the Links tab and add your social networks accounts. For example, write "Twitter" in the Link Text field and paste your Twitter account's address in the URL field. Then click on Add to Menu button and your Twitter account was just added to your social menu.

social menu link

Don't forget to always click on Save Menu before previewing or leaving the page.

So, after doing all these customizations from above, this is how the two menus I created will look on the Twenty Fifteen theme demo.

menu demo

Was this tutorial useful for you? Let us know how was your first experience in creating a WordPress menu.