WordPress 3.0, and Now .com: Custom Menus

WordPress 3.0 brings new features including multisite networks, custom post types, a new default theme in Twenty Ten – and custom menus. This post is about the last of these (the links in the previous sentence will take you to prior posts about the other three features).

I wanted to take a minute to tell you about the new custom menu system, which is pretty exciting. Have you ever wanted to have a different title for one of your pages than the label displayed in your site’s navigation? Ever wanted to change the order of the list of pages to an order you chose yourself? Ever wanted to be able to mix pages, categories, and random links in your navigation instead of your theme deciding for you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in luck! The new custom menus feature will do all those things.

The quote is from Jane Wells’ announcement of the introduction of custom menus into WordPress.com. I admire the way in which Jane explains what the new feature is for, and why it’s “pretty exciting.”

I say this as someone who finds custom menus one of the less interesting new features of 3.0. Did you ever hear a song, think that it’ll be a hit, reflect that it’s pretty good in its way, but that it’s not your sort of music? I feel a little that way about custom menus, especially compared with other new features such as multisite. That said, much of the new stuff in 3.0 won’t be apparent to most WordPress (.com or self-hosted) bloggers, and custom menus are more widely visible and accessible.

There are two ways to use the custom menu feature: via the theme, or via the sidebar widget. Custom menus are part of Twenty Ten, and of some of the other, newer, themes. It’s interesting that this feature will be added to some other themes. WordPress.com themes tend not to change much after they’ve settled in.

If I wanted to use custom menus on this blog (Simpla theme), I’d have to go the widget way. I’d create a menu and them use a widget to make it part of the sidebar. If I do that, it’ll probably be to replace the current Categories widget with a customized version, changing the order of the categories and perhaps leaving some of the smaller ones off the list altogether.

Update, a little later, because: I forgot to link to Jane’s post; the more I think about custom menus, the more I think I’m likely to use them.

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