How to Create WordPress Custom Nav Menus with Menu Manager Plugin

Posted on Feb 16 2010 by Alistair Barnett in Tutorials Video WordPress 

Update 08/05/2010: The custom navigation function is now built into WordPress 3.0++, so you can ignore the tutorial below.

Instead, see this tutorial:

How to Create WordPress Custom Navigation Menus.

With most WordPress themes, your site navigation menu is based on your pages. For each page, a link is created in the navigation menu, and the link text is based on the title you choose for the page. This method of creating a site navigation menu is inferior for many reasons, some of which are these:

1. It doesn’t allow you to include 1 or more category pages in your nav menu.
2. It doesn’t allow you to exclude 1 or more pages from the nav menu.
3. It doesn’t allow you to include links to an external site in your nav menu.
4. It doesn’t make it easy for you to control the order of the links in your nav menu.
5. It doesn’t allow you to use navigation link text that’s different from the page title.

To deal with such issues, I’ve seen some WordPress theme developers who are building a custom navigation menu function into their themes. At first glance, this seems like a great feature to include in a WordPress theme, and I’ve considered it for Solostream themes.

Ultimately, though, I decided against it, because what happens when you decide to change your theme? Once you move to a different theme, your navigation structure is toast. It’s great for the theme developer, because you’re less likely to switch to a competitor’s theme, but it limits you as the user.

That’s what I love about the Menu Manager plugin. It gives you complete control over your navigation menu without locking you into using a specific theme. With Menu Manager, you can include or exclude any page or category you like. You can also create links to external pages if you like.

As far as the link text, you can make it whatever you want. So, if you have a page with the title “Learn a Little More About Me,” you can just use “About” as the navigation link. Further, there’s a drag-and-drop function that allows you to order you navigation links any way you choose.

Here’s a short video tutorial showing how to create your navigation menu with Menu Manager.

Update 08/05/2010: The custom navigation function is now built into WordPress 3.0, so you can ignore the tutorial below.

Instead, see:
Solostream Themes and WordPress 3.0 Menu Management Function.

Here’s the code I used in the video to install the Menu Manager plugin:

<ul>
<?php /*If Menu Manger is activated, run it */ if (function_exists('mm_menu')) { ?>
  <?php mm_menu(); ?>
<?php /* If Menu Manger is not active, run the usual navigation code */ } else { ?>
  <?php wp_list_pages('title_li='); ?>
<?php } ?>
</ul>