WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system [CMS]. It’s used by almost half of all new websites being published today! Using WordPress seems pretty easy but what’s up with all the confusing terminology?
Keep reading for your guide on escaping the maze of WordPress post terms.
Design by Committee
WordPress is an open source project with thousands of contributors. It has evolved organically over many years with many project leads.
This is certainly one of its strong suites. Having many eyes looking at the code has turned WordPress into a very strong, stable platform. But with so many cooks in the kitchen, sometimes problems with naming conventions have arisen.
Frankly, there are some confusing and inconsistent ways in which WordPress has named things. There isn’t anything anyone can do about it now. With tens of millions of websites and people using the platform, getting them all to change how they talk about things isn’t going to work. If you can come up with a suggestion, you might win the Nobel prize!
Barring that, you should probably become familiar with how WordPress experts talk, especially as it relates to posts and pages.
WordPress is a content management system, but what exactly is the content that it’s managing? The basic unit of content is called a “post”. Posts lie at the heart of WordPress.
Everything is a post
WordPress has the ability to create Custom Post Types, or CPTs. A CPT can be anything you can imagine that you might want to organize and publish in a coherent way. For instance, the popular e-commerce plugin WooCommerce creates “order” CPTs to track customer orders. You could have a CPT called “baseball-cards” or “patient-records” – whatever you need.
Custom post types can have different abilities and taxonomies. They can be organized on with special URLs like “mydoctorsite.com/client-record/dan_smith”. You could allow comments on a CPT, or not. You can allow the CPTs to be publicly visible or only admins can see them.
Pages are Posts
Now it is going to start getting a little confusing. The naming system in WordPress actually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. You just have to go with it.
WordPress comes with two default post types. “Posts” and “pages”.Posts, are well, posts. Pages are also posts, just a special kind of post.
There are some basic differences in how WordPress treats pages and posts. By default, most themes have the ability to display a static “page” on the home screen, or a “blogroll”. A blogroll is usually a list of posts, and the static page is a WordPress page.
The page where your users are directed to when they first access your site is referred to as the landing page.
Usually, posts are ordered chronologically. You make a post on a particular date, at a particular time. Pages are usually considered somewhat timeless. A table of contents would be a page because when it was created is sort of irrelevant. A signup form goes in a page. Thoughts about your day at the zoo go in a post.
A “Web Page”
Don’t be confused when a person calls what he sees on the screen a “web page” when they are looking at a what is displayed in a browser at a particular URL.
The phrase “web page” is perfectly fine, it just doesn’t have anything to do with WordPress.
Now we go down the rabbit hole. Within a theme, there are “page templates” and post types.
Page templates are PHP files that live inside the theme. They control how a theme displays information on the screen. Usually, there are page templates for things like “full width” or “no sidebar”.
These distinctions are theme specific. One theme may have many more page templates than another theme. Some themes only have one basic page template available.
To make it more confusing, there is a similar system called “post format”, which is almost exactly like a page template but for posts. Often there are post formats like “normal” “video” “image” etc.
Finally, every post type can have various taxonomies. That is, a way in which the post type is organized. By default, WordPress comes with “tags” and “categories”. You can also have hierarchies likes the “parent” concept in pages.
By default, ‘posts’ can use tags, and ‘pages’ can use categories and parent pages. Your custom post types can use either, both, or you can make up new ones. For example, a Doctor could have “patients” with a taxonomy called “status” which could get have the options “critical” “stable” “terminal” etc.
WordPress posts are the basic way human beings are transmitting information on the internet. It’s the main thing the internet is doing! Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to create whatever you want on the world’s #1 blogging platform.