How to Create a Dropdown Menu in WordPress

A lot of beginners struggle with WordPress, especially when it comes to website design. There seem to be so many options that it is often hard to navigate and integrate them properly. Well, if this sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Learning how to properly utilize WordPress takes time. And we are all but sure that you will get a hang of it simply through perseverance. To help you out with this, we are going to cover the basics of how to create a dropdown menu in WordPress. To do so, we are going to use a step by step guide that should be easy enough for even the greenest beginner to follow.

Before you start creating menus in WordPress

While it may seem like a good idea to start off your website with menus added, we advise you to refrain from doing so. Keep in mind that your website is likely to grow and evolve, especially if it is your first website. And you really ought to spare yourself from the hassle of changing your menus every month to accommodate the changes in your website. So, our advice is to first outline what your website will be like. That way you can plan ahead for future content and have a much more streamlined.

Create a dropdown menu in WordPress – step by step guide

Before we tackle actual steps necessary to create a dropdown menu in WordPress, it is important to note that not all WordPress themes support dropdown menus. WordPress is used to create a plethora of different websites, some of which are simply unsuited for dropdown menus. So, before you start creating a dropdown menu in WordPress make sure that you uninstall your theme if it isn’t suitable and use one that is. Some of the more popular themes are:

  • Creator World.
  • Study Circle.
  • Endanger.
  • Hero Menu.
  • Mega Main Menu.
  • Touchy.
A person visiting a website that has a dropdown menu.
Install the right theme before you create a dropdown menu in WordPress.

Step 1: Create a navigation menu

To start, you first need to create a simple menu in WordPress. This is done by going to “Appearance” then you click on “Menus” and “create a new menu”. After you’ve done this, you will have to create a name for your menu in the “Menu Name” bracket. This name will not appear on the actual website. Instead, it only serves to help you navigate your website more easily in the WordPress admin area. Now click on the “Create Menu” button, and you will have created an empty menu in WordPress.

Step 2: Add menu items

With your empty menu ready, you can start adding items. These can, in essence, be whatever pages, posts you have on your website. Simply go to the “Pages” section (if you want to add pages) on the left part of your screen and check all the pages that you want to be on your menu. Then press the “Add to Menu” button. Once you do that, the pages will appear in a collum right under your menu.

Step 3: Add sub-items

Sub-items are the items that are going to appear inside the actual drop part of the drop menu. Here again, you have the freedom to add sub-items to any menu items that you see fit. To add sub-items, you first need to add them as if you would regular items. So check them in the left menu, and click “Add to Menu” button. Once they appear in the right collum, you can actually classify them as sub-items. To do this, you will use the drag-and-drop method.

A mouse pointer hoovering over the Setting tab in WordPress.
WordPress settings are quire user friendly, which is why there is the drag-and-drop method.

So, simply click on an item you wish to become a sub-item and drag them below another item. Then simply drag the sub-item a bit to the right (we are talking a couple of centimeters) and your sub-item will become connected to the item above it (it will become its sub-item). Repeat the process for all the other sub-items in your menu, and click “Save Menu“.

Step 4: Place your menu

If you already have menus on your website, the added menu should appear right away. But, if it is a completely new menu, you will have to pick a theme location of where to display it. It is important to note here that each theme has its own locations for menus. So, you will have to be familiar with yours in order to place your menus where you want them to actually be. To do this you need to go to “Menu Settings” and select one of the checkboxes under “Display location“. Once you’ve placed your menu, remember to again click “Save Menu“. If you need to change your menus more, later on, there are plenty of WordPress menu plugins that can help you out.

A person working in WordPress.
Having the right plugins can make working in WordPress a whole lot easier.

Tips for organizing menus

While organizing menu items and sub-items may seem easy, we often see people struggle to do it properly. So, to help you avoid certain mistakes when you create a dropdown menu in WordPress, here is what to keep in mind:

  • Think like a customer – The sole goal of your menu is to make your website easy to navigate. And to make that possible you need to consider what a visitor goes through when they are on your website.
  • Don’t auto-add items – In the “Menu Settings” section you can find the “Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu“. While this option can be useful, we advise you to use it carefully. Your menu can easily become cluttered if you fail to monitor your website properly.
  • Don’t put too many sub-items into a single item – A cluttered up item is as good as empty. Plan properly and ensure to categorize your sub-items with due care.