Take Complete Control Of Your WordPress Menu

I don’t normally post lists of plugins but for the first time ever my WordPress menu is completely controlled by WordPress itself in a smooth and efficient way. All thanks to some awesome plugins that you need to put in your WordPress management arsenal—right now. No more custom coding. No more hurried hacking when I change themes. Install these 3 plugins and stop worrying about your WordPress menu.

The Exclude Pages Plugin

Exclude Pages handles the problem of all your top-level pages being thrown into your navigation. It simply adds a check box to the Edit Page screen that lets you choose not to include the page in user menus. Brilliant.

The Page Menu Editor Plugin

Page Menu Editor adds a new Meta Box to the Edit Page screen letting you choose a new Page Menu Label. What this means is this: you can have a different (usually simpler) title for your menu link than the actual title on the page. This is the number 1 reason why I usually hand code my menus. Again, brilliant.

In addition, Page Menu Editor also lets you add a custom title attribute. Also kind of cool.

The Page Links To Plugin

Page Links To lets you add a link to say, an external non-WordPress forum, or an external non-WordPress photo gallery, by publishing a new blank page like forum, or gallery, and then choosing to link it to another page. Also useful for adding an RSS link to your header without having to code anything.

34 thoughts on “Take Complete Control Of Your WordPress Menu”

  1. All three are part of the default group of plugins that I include whenever setting up a new WordPress install. They make managing the menu much easier.

  2. Very good list.
    Regarding the Exclude Pages Plugin, I use the Exclude option from the pages widget. Any difference in use or result between the two choices (performane vs usability – having the option in “Edit page” menu) ?

  3. Thank you for these recommendations. I’ve been using the CMS Navigation plugin, which offers a combo platter of dropdown primary nav, breadcrumb nav row and a secondary page nav widget (useful when you don’t like cascading dropdown navs, but have 3 or 4 levels of info).

    Thematic 0.9 mostly eliminated the need for CMS’ primary nav bar, but the latter two options are still very useful (unless you have alternative suggestions there too!).

  4. I’ve used for complex navigation http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-navigation-list-plugin-navt/ . It’s not that pretty and I would have taken a different choices regarding it’s functionality, but at the end of the day you can implement anything you might want from a menu manager.

    Unfortunately the plugin’s homepage is down for some time, so if you have problems with it you’re gonna have a hard time finding support!

    I hope this project dosen’t die off like many others! It would be a shame to loose the momentum!

  5. Hello everybody.
    The 3 plugins that Ian recomend are just great to use WordPress as a CMS.
    The only thing I miss is the ability to make menu items that don’t link anywhere, so you can use them as parent holders of sub-menu items. This is a common thing on drop down menus, to have “dummy holders” that are not clickeable.
    I triyed to use “Page links to” to actually link the page to an empty anchor “#”, lol, but it didn’t work.
    Any ideas?

    I don’t want to get back to NAVT because I never figured out the way to keep the thematic classes including superfish functionality.

      1. That’s a good idea!, thank you. I’ts still clickeable but looks better.
        Also add .page-item-X ul a {cursor:pointer} to restore normal hand cursor to nested items.

      2. Hi.. I am looking for a similar functionality as well. Currently testing with Thematic/child theme on a local install. Where exactly does this code inserted? (Am new to WP/CSS/PHP). Thanks in advance.

      3. neat trick Ian! I never thought of this solution. so is this the closer we can get to dummy links using wp_list_pages ?

  6. Does anyone know of a breadcrumb plugin that will use the alternate menu label text created by Page Menu Editor rather than the actual page title?

  7. Quick question: Any idea if altering navigation paths with these plug ins will make crawling harder for spiders/bots? Just an SEO consideration.

  8. @ Kendra: No. They don’t make crawling harder for bots. Title attributes in hyperlinks (which you can improve by using Page Menu Editor) may have an effect on SEO, but this can only be a beneficial effect.

    However, the main reason to use informative title attributes is to make your links friendlier to humans–and making content as friendly as possible to humans is also very good SEO practice. 🙂

  9. Thank you Demetris for the quick answer. I am working on a large CMS Thematic child theme for a woman’s advocate who wants three navagation devices (two with pictures) and no “blog-looking” widgets – you can imagine my SEO concerns already!

  10. Thanks for the plugins, they are great. But I am also looking for some tools so I can get rid of Archives and Categories i the menus. I dont wont it shown on some web-pages I am helping setting up. Sorry for my english.
    Jens – Denmark

  11. Do you know of anything that will allow me to make pages that DON’T show the MENU? The page shows normally on the regular menu, I just don’t want the menu showing on specific pages.

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