Using WordPress as a CMS – Posts & Pages

Using WordPress as a CMS

I seem to be building numerous websites lately that clients want to be able to manage themselves, and I’ve been using WordPress to power them. For years WordPress was considered a blogging tool only, but within the past few releases it’s definitely proving itself as a very capable, light-weight Content Management System (CMS). In fact, aside from a more advanced permissions model, there really isn’t anything I can think of that WordPress can’t be configured to do right out of the box. For a normal, basic website WordPress allows non-developers to manage their own content easily, using an interface that is not too challenging or technically demanding.

For developers, building templates for WordPress just takes a little understanding about what the content of the website is going to be. It’s important to understand when to use the post type “Page” and when to use the post type “Post”. After a lengthy discussion with a client of mine, I wrote out an overview that I figured I’d share in case anyone else was trying to figure out how to use WordPress as more than a blogging tool.

Difference between Posts and Pages in WordPress (or any cms).

At the end of the day, Posts and Pages are just content and do nearly the same thing. However, think about it this way:

Pages are generally static, non-threaded content. Pages are the main sections on a website.

Basic Examples of “Pages”

  • About Us
  • Directions To Our Offices
  • Contact Us
  • History

Posts are designed to act as collections of content that are related to each other.

For example, Posts may be used like this:

  • Events (page)
    • Event 1 (post)
    • Event 2 (post)
    • Event 3 (post)
    • Event 4 (post)

Now, if there are groups of content – categories of Posts are used:

  • Product Reviews (page)
    • Cars (category)
      • Review 1 (post)
      • Review 2 (post)
      • Review 3 (post)
    • Televisions (category)
      • Review 1 (post)
      • Review 2 (post)
      • Review 3 (post)

Both Pages and Posts use hierarchy for organization:

    Content topic -> more specific topic -> even more specific topic -> content

Posts share the distinction of being able to be assigned to multiple “parent categories”, and are able to be horizontally related using “tags”. For example, if you look at this content structure:

    Articles -> Technology -> Computers -> Software -> Antivirus -> Content
    Articles -> Technology -> Computers -> Software -> Media Players -> Content
    Articles -> Technology -> Computers -> Software -> Image Editing -> Content

These three articles are all similar, but live in different categories. But here’s the thing, all of these Posts could be “tagged” with the term “Microsoft.” This creates the horizontal association. It may seem like “Microsoft” could simply be a category, but if you think of tags as being Post “keywords” you can see how one Post could be related to other Posts via a “tag”, but does not share any other similarities. To show another example of how “tags” are different, take this content:

    Articles -> Business Management -> Employee Training -> Help desk -> Content

Like the three previous bits of content, this may refer to “Microsoft”, but does not fit in the same category as any of them. Tags allow for this sort of relationship.

In summary:

  • Pages are top-level, mostly static content.
  • Posts are used for growing collections of data (events, press items, reviews, articles)
    • categories group posts in like content
    • tags “relate” content to each other via keywords.
  • Posts are associated with chronological content, such as content that would need a date associated with it (news items, events, press).
  • Posts are also generally used if you want to offer any sort of user interaction, such as comments.

Once you have a decent grasp your site’s content, and where to use Posts and Pages, you can develop WordPress templates that really show off the CMS abilities for authoring and editing content. Web development seems to be leaning toward CMS-driven sites, and moving away from the static, webmaster controlled sites.

Comments

Thank you. I am doing a CMS using WordPress for my friend’s company too.
This kind of conceptual framework is important. Thank you for sharing.

Ugh. I’m in the infancy of investigating WordPress as a design and management solution. The templates I’ve seen look kind of club-footed and… “bloggy”. Where can I find some nice templates? What sites have you done with which you’re happy?

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