WordPress is an amazing platform for churches to use for their websites. A strategic feature in the power and versatility of WordPress is the distinction that is made between WordPress Posts and WordPress Pages. Understanding this distinction is a vital key to unlocking the potential of using WordPress as a content management system.
When I first started with WordPress I grappled with a considerable amount of confusion as to the usage of Pages versus Posts . How was I supposed to use these two similar yet different creatures in the world of blogging and CMS application. In this article I would like to help us better understand what pages and posts do and the distinction between them. Click between the tabs below to view a description of Pages and Posts and some explanation of what their individual strengths are for designing a church website.
Posts in WordPress
Posts are the meat n’ potatoes of a typical blog. Posts are where a person writes the regular series of "articles", "devotionals", "book reviews", "opinion or advice columns" and so on. There are so many potential uses for Posts that I will not even try to enumerate more than the few I listed above. Their value is in their versatility. They can be sorted, tagged, categorized, searched and dated. They can be cataloged by author, by date, by category and by tag. They can be published publicly or privately (with password protection). An example of this versatility can be found on the Northwest home page in the right-hand side bar under Special Topics. Several of those links will open a compilation of all the Posts by a particular author that have been designated a specific category. Church Website Dialogue 101 is one of them.
Posts are dynamic so they can be used in many creative ways to present regularly changing information or a continually growing body of information. Normally Posts are displayed with the most currently published material appearing first. This gives Posts their "freshness" and "interest value". Posts are what users follow via RSS feeds and news readers.
One distinctive of Posts is that their content can eventually become dated. For example, in this article (which is a Post) the elements I have listed for Posts and Pages will likely change as WordPress evolves and grows. There will probably be new features and capabilities added in future releases – making some of what I am writing eventually become dated. This is not as likely to happen with the content typically entered into Pages.
Read this discussion of posts on the WordPress website http://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Posts
Post Elements in WordPress
A WordPress Post has these components or elements. I find this list helpful when trying to conceptualize how to design a CMS site using WordPress. The highlighted items are the distinct elements of WordPress Posts.
- Post content (body of the page)
- Password protection
- Posts will allow comments
- Post Author
- Post revisions
- Post status Private or Public
- Publish date
- Permalink (slug)
Pages in WordPress
Pages in WordPress are the equivalent of static html pages on a static site – with the exception that they are dynamically generated from the database. Pages hold information that is constant. They are for site content such as information pages, history pages, personnel pages, product information pages, ministry description pages and so on. In WordPress Pages are the substance of a content management site as they can be identified in a menu type of hierarchy. WordPress Pages can have sub-pages and sub-pages under sub-pages. This gives great power and flexibility in designing the structure of a website.
One of the more powerful CMS capabilities in WordPress is that one can design individual and distinct templates for Pages. This can give a website the potential of a new look and feel with each Page that is viewed. One specific Page and all of its sub-pages can have their own template and create the visual sense of being in a new section of the site or even an entirely different site. For a CMS this is a valuable capability.
Because Pages are "static" they can be used for navigation. Pages can be assigned a numerical order within their page level which gives the web programmer the ability to create very sophisticated navigational systems. WordPress has a template tag [a special WordPress function – wp_list_pages()] designed to display a list of all the page URLs. The tag has a number of "arguments" to give it great flexibility. The drop-down menu on the Northwest web-site is dynamically generated using that single WordPress template tag with a few specific arguments. That way new Pages can be added very quickly and if they meet the criteria set by the arguments of the template tag they automatically appear in the drop-down menu.
In order to better understand how Pages and Page Templates work in WordPress go to this article on the WordPress website – http://codex.wordpress.org/Pages.
Another feature of Pages and their Page Templates is that certain pages can be designed to be viewable by members only. In a future article I will address this strategic use of the Users feature built into WordPress
Page Elements in WordPress
A WordPress page has these components or elements. I find this list helpful when trying to conceptualize how to design a Content Management Site (CMS) such as a church website using WordPress. The highlighted items are the distinct elements of WordPress Pages.
- Page content (body of the page)
- Custom fields
- Comments and Pings
- Password protection
- Page Parent (can have sub-pages as well)
- Page Template
- Page Order (i.e. 0, 1, 2 …20, 21 etc. This is very helpful for arranging how page links will appear in a menu.)
- Page Author
- Page revisions
- Page status Private or Public
- Publish date
- Permalink (slug)
- Pages can be listed with a Template Tag
I trust this little description will be helpful for all of us who are trying to use WordPress for more than just a blog. There is lots of information on the WordPress Codex site. But maybe this condensation will fill a need.