If you want your website visitors to be able to find your best content then it’s vital that your site has an effective navigation system in place. After all, what’s the point in having a website that’s packed with useful content if no one can find it? One of the best ways to ensure your site is easy to use is to upgrade its navigation areas, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to install one of the menu WordPress plugins featured here.
More than this, though, navigation menus are an integral piece of your site’s overall design — they’re displayed on every unique page, after all. Remember: A visually impressive navigation menu can make an average website look great, and the reverse is certainly true, too.
As such, building and styling your navigation menus is not a decision to undertake lightly — from an aesthetic or a navigational perspective.
Fortunately, there are tons of great menu WordPress plugins. In this article, we’ll be sifting through them to bring you our seven favourites. And, because every plugin on this list is fully responsive, users on mobile devices can enjoy them, too.
Menu WordPress Plugins Recommendations
Another freebie up next: The WP Responsive Menu plugin, which specializes in building sliding mobile menus.
Because the plugin is targeted at mobile users, many of its main features are tailored specifically to functionalities found on mobile devices. Visitors can navigate the menus using swipe gestures, plus they can pinch their touch screens to zoom.
You can also configure a specific mobile-friendly menu for visitors on smaller devices, and disable any unwanted elements. Visitors on the desktop will see the default menu, with the full list of options.
You can configure the menus to slide out from either the top, left, or right of the screen. You can also specify the width of the menus — either in pixels or as a percentage of the screen size.
There are plenty of customization options, too. You can upload a logo for the menu, as well as customizing all colours (background, text, and borders), and the menu text. You can even incorporate a simple search function into the bottom of the menu.
Best of all, setup is incredibly streamlined, meaning you could be up and running in just a few short minutes.
Let’s start with perhaps the most powerful menu plugin of all — UberMenu. Notching up more than 60,000 downloads so far, this plugin is insanely popular and ranks in third place on the leaderboard for CodeCanyon’s best-selling plugins of all time.
The UberMenu plugin lets you build some of the most beautiful menus it’s possible to find in the WordPress world. Called ‘mega menus’, they can be incredibly complex, with unlimited levels of sub-menus for visitors to dig around in. When it comes to enhancing navigation, mega menus are unparalleled.
The plugin’s main selling point is the advanced content you can add to your mega menus. For starters, this includes images, Google Maps, and blog post grids. UberMenu can even pull blog content for these grids dynamically, based off a variable of your choice — the variable could be the post category, post type, parent, or author, for example.
Beyond this, UberMenu also integrates with third-party widgets and shortcodes. This means you can incorporate functionalities from other plugins into your menus, for an even better visitor experience. You can use UberMenu to add maps and contact forms to your menus.
With such versatility, you’d be forgiven for thinking these menus would be difficult to construct. This isn’t the case, though, thanks to the plugin’s intuitive builder.
Now, although UberMenu is fully responsive, the intricate design of the mega menus might make them less suitable for smaller devices. If you feel this to be the case, the UberMenu developers have provided users with a free mobile menu plugin: ShiftNav. This lets you build app-style navigation menus for mobile users.
Max Mega Menu
‘Mega menu’ functionality is relatively advanced, meaning you will only usually find it in premium plugins. However, if you know where to look, it is possible to find it for free.
Introducing Max Mega Menu, an excellent mega menu plugin available from the official WordPress plugin repository. With the plugin installed and activated, your existing WordPress menus are automatically upgraded to mega menus.
Talking of styling, Max Mega Menu comes with nearly endless customization options. Fonts, sizes, colours, and icons are just the tip of the iceberg, with more than 100 customizations supported. There are some great-looking CSS3 animations built in, too, making your menus even easier on the eye.
As with any mega menu plugin, you can also build some pretty complicated menus. You can add loads of cool things to them, including images and dynamic content (such as maps), and, because Max Mega Menu lets you add widgets to your menus, you can even integrate functionality from other plugins. This means you can incorporate functionality such as calendars, videos, and contact forms.
Best of all, Max Mega Menu is one of the quickest mega menu plugins around, weighing less than 2kb and with the stylings confined to a single CSS file.
If you like what you see, consider upgrading to the Pro version for just $19. The Pro version lets you add WooCommerce and Easy Digital Download checkout features to your menus, among other cool features.
If you’d prefer vertical menus to the traditional horizontal alignment, check out the Superfly plugin. It doubles up as a fantastic space saver, too, letting you use the full dimensions of the screen.
This is achieved by hiding the menu behind a toggle button in the top corner. When clicked, the menu slides into view, leaving visitors free to navigate your website — you could also choose to permanently anchor the menu to the side of the screen, though.
Why might you want a vertically aligned menu? Well, for starters, they’re considered more mobile friendly. You also encounter them less frequently, making them quite a striking addition to any website. And, as you’d expect, Superfly supports an abundance of styling options, which help you make this unusual menu type even more striking.
The plugin ships with an icon library, tons of Google fonts, and full-colour customization. You can upload custom imagery for your menus, too — from a background image to the logo displayed at the menu top. Integrate widgets or shortcodes from other plugins, or create custom HTML styling. You can even customize the design, shape, and placement of the menu trigger button.
Because the menus open out into the screen, up to four levels of sub-menus are supported. Additional levels look equally stunning and can be configured with unique styling, as demonstrated in the screenshot below.
One final feature: You can also add social sharing buttons to the bottom of your menus, with more than ten social networks supported. With any luck, this will result in more social shares for your content.
If you like Superfly’s vertical menus but don’t have the budget, the Responsive Menu plugin may interest you. This plugin builds great-looking vertical menus and can be downloaded free of charge from the official plugin directory.
For a free plugin, Responsive Menu ships with an impressive number of customizations — more than 150, in fact. These cover all of the usual customizations — font, size, alignment, and colour — and you can also upload custom backgrounds, logos, and icons, letting you add a personal touch to your menus.
The plugin anchors a simple menu button to the top right of the screen, and, when this button is clicked, the menu slides into view with a beautiful animation effect. Because the menus take up a lot more of the screen compared with Superfly, each subsequent level opens downwards, rather than outwards, as seen in the following screenshot.
Hero Menu WordPress
We’re back onto mega menus again with our next plugin: Hero Menu. The plugin boasts loads of versatility and tons of customization options, meaning it’s possible to create nearly endless menu designs.
Hero Menu ships with 250-plus free icons, and you can customize your menus with a choice of 650 Google fonts and infinite colours. To help those of you who lack a natural flair for design, you’ll also find 60 stunning colour presets, as created by a team of skilled graphic designers.
Hero Menu supports all of the usual mega menu content — images, videos, maps and blog content, plus shortcodes and widgets from other plugins. However, Hero Menu is also compatible with WooCommerce, which means you can add products, prices and thumbnail images to your menus. You can also easily activate a search function and social media sharing buttons.
The plugin also ships with ‘sticky menu’ functionality, which means it remains anchored to the top of the screen, even as a visitor scrolls down the page. And, when Hero Menu detects visitors using smaller devices, it will automatically condense the menus to something more mobile-friendly.
Finally, Hero Menu will tweak which menu a visitor sees, depending on their WordPress user role — a useful feature if you require visitors to log in.
Which concludes our roundup of the best responsive menu WordPress plugins. The plugins featured on this list support a variety of menu types — mega menus, vertical menus, mobile-friendly menus, and one-page menus.
Which one is right for your website? Well, that depends. Choosing the right menu WordPress plugins is an important decision, as menus serve an important function — navigation — and are a fundamental part of your site’s aesthetic. In other words, take your time and make sure you get this decision right.
Personally, I love the style of mega menus — they command attention, plus you can add lots of cool stuff to them. However, they’re probably best suited to websites with lots of different pages; websites where a really comprehensive navigation menu is required.
On the other hand, the vertical-style menus are ideal for websites that need to maximize the use of space. The menu is hidden behind a toggle, meaning your content fills the whole screen — perfect for websites featuring a full-screen image or video.
With free menu WordPress plugins in each category, my recommendation is to try a few different menu styles to see which one you prefer. Then, when you know which style you like, evaluate some of the premium options to determine which plugin you’re going to use going forward. With lots of extra features and functionalities, the premium options really are a cut above the free ones.