Customize a WordPress Site’s Navigation

Many WordPress themes allow you to easily customize your site’s navigation.  You can create different menus and, depending on your theme, place them in different areas of your site.  Unfortunately, not all of the themes available on offer this feature.  However, if you are using a theme that allows custom menus (such as TwentyTen, TwentyEleven, or one of the StudioPress themes), you can easily customize the main horizontal navigation at the top of your site.

If your theme does not allow for custom menus, you will most likely not see the “Menus” link under Appearance after you log in.  Sometimes, the “Menus” link is there, but when you click on it you will see message that says that you can’t use custom menus excepts as a widget in the sidebar.

Your theme doesn't support custom menus

1.) Log in to your site

2.) On the left navigation, click on Appearance, then click on “Menus.”  You are now ready to create your custom menu.

2.) Appearance >> Menus

3.) Give your new menu a name in the “Menu Name” text box and click “Create Menu.”

3.) Give your Menu a Name

4.) Now you can add items to your menu.  On the left side of the Widget page, there are a number of things you can add.  Custom Links allow you to put a specific link into your navigation (many times people use this to add a link to an external site.)

4.) Custom Links

Pages create links to pages (if you don’t see the page you want to add, click on the “View All” Tab and you will see a full list of your site’s pages.

4.) Pages

Categories will add a link to a specific category of posts.  For example, if you wanted to set up a blog for a class, you could put a link in your menu to a category that cooresponded to a specific assignment.  As student’s wrote posts in that category, you could see them all at once by clicking that link.

4.) Categories

Check the boxes next to the items you want to add to your menu and click “Add to Menu.”

5.)  Once you have your items added to your menu (they appear in the box on the right side of the screen) you can drag them into the order you would like.  If you want to create a submenu, just drag the items to the right to create a hierarchy.

6.) When you are happy with your menu, click “Save Menu” button at the bottom right corner of the page.

7.) In order to activate your new custom menu, you need go to the “Theme Locations”  box in the upper right corner of the page.  In the dropdown box, select the name of your menu and click “Save.”

7.) Theme Locations

8.) View your site and see your new menu.


About Evan Cordulack

Evan Cordulack is a Web Applications Specialist for Academic Technology. He helps faculty members with Web-based projects related to their research and teaching. He earned his PhD in American Studies at William & Mary in 2013. Find him at