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Styling the menu

From: WordPress: Building Themes from Scratch Using Underscores

Video: Styling the menu

Right now, the menu is largely unstyled. First I need to know how to target the menu.

Styling the menu

Right now, the menu is largely unstyled. The only styles that are applied are the ones that make the menu appear in a horizontal fashion and also the ones that make the dropdowns work. And here you'll see one of the great things about working with underscores as a starter theme. Although, very few of the elements of the menu have been styled, the theme itself comes with all the different selectors already in the style sheets. All we have to do is slot in our styles to make the menu look the way we want. Before we start working on the menu, let's take a quick look at the design just to remind ourselves what it looks like.

Here you see the menu has a nice dark background color and lots of white space around each individual menu element. The font is lato and all the text is upper case. And you can imagine what a dropdown would like. It would borrow the same styles but maybe in a different color. Now we'll get to work styling the menu and here, just like with everything else the process is to work from the top down. Meaning we'll start by styling the outer most container and then we'll move into the main menu and then the sub-menu and then the sub-sub-menu and so on.

And here you need to queue up your code snippets because in this movie, I'll go through a bunch of code snippets, we'll copy them out and paste them in one at a time. And I'll explain what each of them does so you can see how these styles work together to create the menu we want. First I need to know how to target the menu. So if we go to Header.php and look at the Nav tag, you'll see it has the class Main Navigation. So that means in my style sheet, I can target anything within Main Navigation and then it'll apply to the menu.

Now I'm going to open my style sheet, scroll down until I find my table of contents and here you see we have section five navigation and under section five we have 5.2 which is menus. So now I can simply search for 5.2 and I'm taken directly to the menus. And here you see main navigation and then you see a long list of rule. Some of them have styles in them and some of them don't. And we're going to use these existing rules and also add some new one to make our menu look the way we want. So let's start at the top with main navigation.

Here I'm going to go to my code snippets and simply copy out the main navigation rule and just replace the top rule here. This new rule retains most of the old styling, but it sets the font to lato, the text stance form to uppercase, and also adds a background color. Now I can save my style sheet, go back and reload my site, and you'll see my menu now has a dark background, uppercase font and and it's the lato font face. You'll also see that some of my menu items appear to be missing. This is actually the old revisited state, so we're going to change that a little later on.

Now that the menu container looks the way I want it, I need to style each individual menu element and that is done by targeting the links within the menu. So, if we scroll down past these two styles, main navigations UL and LI, which were not going to change, you'll find main navigation A. So this is the rule that would target just the link items, so copy that, scroll down and find main navigation A, and paste it in. And here you see we display each item as a block item.

We give it padding, we set up the font size, we take away the underline for the link, we set the line height and finally, we add the white text color. Now, again, I'll save style.css and reload my page. And now you see each menu item appears exactly as we want. But as we scroll past the dropdowns, you'll see the dropdowns still look kind of weird because we haven't styled them yet. So the next step would be to style the dropdowns. To target the dropdown, we go to the main navigation and then we find the unorder list inside the unordered list, so that would be the dropdowns and then so on.

And here we can apply another set of styles. I'll copy that, scroll down and find main navigation, UL, UL and replace the styles. And here you see, again, we retain most of the styles, but what I'm doing is changing the background color, because the old style had no background color and then some drop shadows around it, so I've removed the drop shadows and added a solid drop background color instead. Again, I'll save style.css, reload the page. And now the dropdowns have a separate color, from the main menu.

And you see that because we're styling the unorder list, under the unordered lists, the third level also gets styled. Now that the menu works the way it's supposed to, we can start adding extra features like highlighting the current menu we are hovering over. So I'll scroll down and find this rule set called Main Navigation LI hover, point to a, so I'll copy that. Find the matching style here. And you'll see this one is currently not styled. So Main Navigation LI hover .A and I'll replace that.

Save again. Reload the page. And now you see when I hover over each of the items, I get a nice background color. And the background color matches the drop downs. Now I can do the same for the drop downs. So scrolling further down, you see here, we have another style called Main Navigation, unorder list within an unordered list and then the A hover in that section. So I'll copy that style. So here we have, unorder list, unorder, A hover. Save it again. Reload the page. And now when we hover over each of these elements, they get highlighted with the original menu color.

Now it can put the final touch on the menu by highlighting what page is currently active. because you'll see right now, if I select the random page here, I don't actually know by looking at the menu what page I'm on, so we can add menu highlighting. If you back to the styles and you scroll down, you'll see at the bottom here we have these three rule sets. The first rule set targets the main menu and highlights the current page item or the current menu item. The second one highlights the current page ancestor. That means when someone has selected a sub-menu item, so that we can highlight the main menu item.

And the third one highlights the current page item in sub-menus. So I'll copy all these three out. And then I'll scroll to the bottom and just replace the last of these styles here, paste it in, save again and reload the page. And now you'll something really neat. If we select a menu item on the main menu, remember on that page the menu item is highlighted in white. If you select a menu item on a sub menu. The main menu item background will be set to a gray, so you'll know that it's related and then when you open that menu, you'll see that the selected menu item is highlighted in dark and if we go to the sub-sub-menu and select the menu item, you'll see the first menu level item is highlighted in gray.

The second one is dark, and then the third one. So now we're actively telling the visitor exactly where they are in our content hierarchy by using highlighting. And as you can see, this is all very basic CSS and all I'm doing is just adding different kinds of background colors and font colors. So now that you see how it's done, I encourage you to go back and check out the code that we just pasted in and experiment with it, maybe change colors and see exactly how it works. Because mastering how to design menus in WordPress is an extremely powerful tool to have in your WordPress development tool kit.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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  1. 10m 55s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. What to know before you start this course
      2m 40s
    3. How this course and the lesson files work
      3m 12s
    4. Introducing Simone: A preview of the final project
      3m 59s
  2. 21m 28s
    1. Installing and running WordPress on your computer
      3m 53s
    2. Getting and installing Underscores
      4m 11s
    3. Installing WordPress Theme Unit Test data
      4m 18s
    4. Installing the Developer plugin
      2m 58s
    5. Installing and setting up NetBeans or another IDE
      6m 8s
  3. 16m 15s
    1. Designing for mobile, content, and style
      4m 52s
    2. How do WordPress themes work?
      4m 48s
    3. Understanding the WordPress template hierarchy
      2m 19s
    4. Underscores: An overview
      4m 16s
  4. 37m 5s
    1. Setting up style.css
      4m 47s
    2. Configuring baseline settings and functions
      6m 6s
    3. Enabling custom fonts and font icons
      5m 44s
    4. Applying global styles
      5m 11s
    5. Styling basic layout components
      6m 19s
    6. Making the site layout responsive
      8m 58s
  5. 23m 18s
    1. Styling the default header
      6m 25s
    2. Hiding the site title and tagline
      5m 32s
    3. Adding an optional header image function
      5m 23s
    4. Placing the header image behind the site title
      5m 58s
  6. 40m 55s
    1. Setting up menus
      3m 12s
    2. Styling the menu
      7m 42s
    3. Using Superfish for accessible menus
      8m 0s
    4. Making the menu responsive
      7m 3s
    5. Creating a custom social media menu
      5m 51s
    6. Styling the menu with icons from Font Awesome
      9m 7s
  7. 18m 9s
    1. Adding the search form
      6m 27s
    2. Adding the search icon
      6m 55s
    3. Adding show/hide functionality to the search form with jQuery
      4m 47s
  8. 33m 20s
    1. Adding a widgetized area to the footer
      7m 10s
    2. Using the Monster widget plugin to test all widgets
      2m 11s
    3. Styling the footer
      3m 6s
    4. General widget styling
      5m 33s
    5. Adding custom styles to specific widgets
      7m 34s
    6. Using Masonry to make footer widgets responsive
      7m 46s
  9. 54m 49s
    1. Changing the Single Post Template content structure
      5m 54s
    2. Changing the output of meta elements
      7m 2s
    3. Styling the Single Post Template
      7m 57s
    4. Making post meta responsive
      6m 21s
    5. Styling blockquotes
      5m 39s
    6. Creating pull quotes and pull images
      5m 1s
    7. Working with image captions
      4m 27s
    8. Working with image galleries
      4m 57s
    9. Single-post navigation
      7m 31s
  10. 30m 23s
    1. Working with the comments template
      8m 42s
    2. Using Gravatars in comments
      2m 42s
    3. Styling comments
      7m 26s
    4. Highlighting post author comments
      3m 36s
    5. Styling the comment form and messages
      7m 57s
  11. 18m 43s
    1. How do featured images (post thumbnails) work?
      2m 57s
    2. Defining featured image sizes
      3m 30s
    3. Generating new featured images with a plugin
      1m 46s
    4. Adding featured images to a template
      5m 7s
    5. Styling the featured image
      5m 23s
  12. 1h 2m
    1. The index template hierarchy
      2m 21s
    2. Customizing and styling index templates
      10m 10s
    3. Displaying excerpts or full content on index pages
      3m 6s
    4. Adding a custom Read More link
      3m 48s
    5. Adding featured images
      4m 0s
    6. Creating custom pagination navigation
      6m 4s
    7. Highlighting Sticky Posts
      2m 55s
    8. Creating custom post format templates
      5m 30s
    9. Highlighting the most recent post in the index template
      7m 22s
    10. Embracing modular design
      2m 29s
    11. Working with archive.php
      5m 54s
    12. Customizing the search results and the 404 template
      8m 28s
  13. 9m 7s
    1. Styling pages
      3m 4s
    2. Creating custom page templates
      6m 3s
  14. 4m 30s
    1. Adding editor styles to match front-end styles
      4m 30s
  15. 2m 20s
    1. Further learning
      2m 20s

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