Free WordPress Accordion Menu Plugins: Expand Your Sidebar Space

Free WordPress Accordion Menu Plugins: Expand Your Sidebar Space

Back when accordion menus came on the scene years ago, many people liked them because they were new and cool.

They were always functional, of course, but those going for an accordion menu today usually do so out of necessity. They are great space savers and can turn a cluttered, messy-looking sidebar into a clean, order navigation area in an instant.


3 Plugins to Consider

A little surprisingly, there don’t seem to be many free accordion plugins around. Maybe because they aren’t consider new and cool anymore, people aren’t looking to build them. That’s a shame. They really can be very practical.

Anyway, after doing away with a number that didn’t work, we were left with only three.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that two of them are really very of nice quality. And the third, while not flashy, may still do the job for some.

  • JQuery Vertical Accordion Menu

    The JQuery Vertical Accordion Menu allows you to put a menu in a widget, and then it controls the menu from there. It comes with a number of options that makes it a nice choice.

    First up, it comes with a number of nice skins. This is often an important consideration for many. You can also style your own menu using the given skins as models.

    You also have the ability to choose whether the menus open on click or hover. You can choose whether the menus will auto close or not. And you can also control the animation speed.

    In addition, you can place a menu in a post or a page with a shortcode.

  • Nextend Accordion Menu

    The Nextend Accordion Menu plugin works by setting up menus via its settings page, and then choosing your menus through a widget.

    There are a number of options on the settings page, including controlling when the menu is opened (on click, on hover, etc.), which levels are open by default, animation type, and positioning.

    Although there are supposedly more skins available in the pro version, in the free version there is only one. You can do a little styling in the backend, however, doing things like including or not including an icon, changing the font, positioning items, and changing colors.

    This looks like a nice plugin, and it felt pretty “solid” (as these things go). In terms of its free options, it’s too bad it doesn’t come with skins.

  • Nice Navigation

    The Nice Navigation plugin is relatively simple with limited options. It lets you show Pages, categories, and archives in a stripped down look. It has an option to show “wp_nav_menu” which seemed to be the main menu for your site, but that one didn’t open and close for me when it appeared.

    While not a bad plugin, it simply wasn’t built do to what the others do.

Overall Winner

Both the JQuery Vertical Accordion Menu plugin and the Nextend Accordion Menu plugin gives you a number of nice options to control how your menu looks and works. We’ll give the slight nod to JQuery Vertical because it offers more skins in its free version. That said, Nextend probably give you more control in the end.

Photo credit: brett jordan

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