Article read time - 5 minutes

Out of the box, WordPress offers a full feature set. This includes top-notch managers for posts and pages, media assets, and even menus. Though, the latter can’t do everything you’d want it to. Some features will be a part of your chosen theme. On the other hand, a WordPress menu plugin can help you implement complex functionality regardless of your theme.

For example, you can choose to add a so-called ‘mega menu’ to your site, sliding off-canvas designs, full-screen ‘hero’ menus, and much more. A dedicated plugin will also offer more focus, and greater functionality for your chosen application.

In this post, we’re going to look at how to choose the right WordPress menu plugin for you. First, let’s go into detail on why you’d want to install a plugin in the first place.

WordPress’ Own Menu Management Options

We can’t offer any negatives for WordPress’ own menu functionality. It offers a robust set of features that covers almost all of the necessary aspects you’d want to achieve with your menus.

wordpress menu screen

For example, you can create as many new menus as you need, set some specific options for each, choose where they display, and more. The drag-and-drop menu editor is also nice to use, and lets you set submenus with ease.

In addition, there are also extra hidden screen options (accessible at the top of the screen), that lets you implement extra functionality to your menus:

screen options

Even so, the menu screens can’t cater to every possible need. This is where plugins come to the rescue.

Why You’d Want to Use a Dedicated WordPress Menu Plugin Over the Native Functionality

The ethos of the WordPress core functionality is that it should cover most of the necessary bases to get a site up and running. If you need more than what’s on offer, you install a plugin. While the scope for building menus in WordPress is solid, you can’t do everything.

Though, WordPress is nothing if not flexible and customizable. As such, you can code up extra functionality if you have the HTML, CSS, and PHP skills available to you. There are drawbacks to this:

  • There’s a time issue, in that you’ll need some to work on the implementation. Also, remember that you need to factor in testing and revisions too, as no solution will come out perfect the first time.
  • You may not have the right level of skills to get the job done, or introduce issues to your site.
  • You’re hard-wiring functionality into your site, which would be better served as a plugin.

If you’re contemplating the latter for personal rather than business reasons, other developers have trod the path before you. In other words, you’ll want to install a dedicated WordPress menu plugin. Though, before you do that, you need to know how to choose the right one.

wordpress support plans

How to Choose the Right WordPress Menu Plugin For You

The first decision you need to make is what the WordPress menu plugin will help you achieve. This should be straightforward in most cases, as lots focus on a specific piece of functionality. For example, there are lots of mega menu plugins, while you can also find mobile-first and responsive menu plugins too.

Once you have a solid idea of what you need the plugin to do, next you need to ascertain how it will help you reach your goals. You should look for how you build menus, the customization options available, and any advanced functionality that will help your menu stand out.

Of course, there are lots of other general considerations too, that apply for almost any plugin you want to install:

  • Check whether the plugin has a recent update available. If there has been no activity here for six months or more, shift your attention to another plugin.
  • See if there are lots of active installs. While this isn’t indicative of quality, a large user base often gravitates to good WordPress solutions.
  • Speaking of users, check out the ratings and reviews for your chosen plugin. In particular, look at the very worst reviews, as this will give you more insight into how a plugin operates in the real world.

Once you know what to look for, you have the biggest step to tackle: Making your choice.

Rounding Up Some of the Leading WordPress Menu Plugins

To choose the right WordPress menu plugin, you need some options. The good news is that there are lots on the market, both free and premium. When it comes to mega menus, the niche is well represented. While there are lots of free and premium options, such as WP Mega Menu Pro, Groovy Mega Menu, and more, Max Mega Menu is free and great to use:

max mega menu

There are also a few choices if you wish to make your menus responsive. Superfly is a nice premium option, although Responsive Menu and ShiftNav are both full-featured and free:

We like some of the more niche plugins on the market, such as the little known My Header Footer.

This gives you a nice drag-and-drop builder to create your menus, and deserves more attention based on its functionality.

For a different application, consider Admin Menu Editor.

This lets you customize the WordPress admin sidebar to your liking. While you might not think there is a lot of use for this at first, it’s perfect for creating a custom dashboard for specific user roles, to help usability and the whole experience.

In Closing

You get a lot of functionality without installing any plugins in WordPress. One solid area of attention is with menus. You can go far with the native tools, and create complex structures with a minimum of effort.

Though, a WordPress menu plugin can help you take your navigation up a notch. There are lots of plugins to help you create mega menus, such as Max Mega Menu. Though, you can also find solutions for more specific needs, such as the menus on the WordPress admin screen. In a nutshell, you have a wide range of plugins at your disposal, which makes it easy to tailor your menus to your own requirements.

Do you have a custom setup using a specific WordPress menu plugin? Let us know in the comments section below!

wordpress support plans

Leave a Reply
Comment policy: We value comments and the time that visitors to our blog spend to give feedback. Please note that all comments are manually moderated and any deemed to be spam or promotional will be deleted.