WordPress site content comes in two main flavors, “Pages” and “Posts.” They’re created and edited exactly the same… but each one “lives” in a different place in your Admin area, and performs a different function on your site. Because Pages and Posts are organized slightly differently by WordPress, they lend themselves to being used for different kinds of content, even though you create and edit both of them exactly the same way.
Pages and Posts, the Basics
Posts originated as simple blog posts. They can be arranged in categories, “tagged” with relevant keywords, and archived by date. (This ability to automatically categorize posts, and to list them by title and date with one click of a button, is one of the huge contributions blogging software made to web site development—can you remember when all this inter-linking had to be done by hand?)
Posts are always tagged by date, whether that date is visible to the reader, or not. They always supersede each other… the most recent one will appear first, the oldest, last. (Unless you’ve designated a particular post as “sticky,” in which case it will “stick” to the top spot, and all the other posts will array themselves in date order below that one.)
And you can always group them into categories, which you create yourself. This means that two kinds of classification—date and subject—are easily available to help manage large collections of separate posts.
Pages, on the other hand, have no assignable categories, can’t be tagged, and are not sorted by date. Think of pages like ordinary “traditional” web pages. They hold the kinds of items that often appear on the navigation menu. Your “about” page, contact page, client lists, services—these are the kinds of less-frequently-changing, or “non-date-related” content that lends itself to pages.
Posts, for Time-Related or Ephemeral Content
No matter what kind of site you have, you will be using Pages and Posts.
If you have a simple blog site, each day’s blog post automatically displaces yesterday’s—either by sending it further down the list of posts, or by sending it to another web page all together, depending upon your overall site settings.
This works the same for more complex sites. For example, say you’re running a magazine site. The actual articles in a magazine-style site will be Posts, organized into categories germane to the publication—”Style,” “News,” etc.
A magazine-style theme usually displays an excerpt or thumbnail of articles (Posts) on the home page. Only instead of just showing one Post, as in a plain-vanilla blog site, a magazine-style theme will display the most recent article, or perhaps the two or three most recent articles, in every category. As newer articles are published in a given category, they will automatically displace the older ones.
On this kind of site, you’re using the automatic attributes of posts—date and category—to create a complex site with an ever-changing home page that’s automatically updated every time you add a new post.
This principle is the same whether your post are text, photographs, video or audio files, or any combination thereof.
Pages, Posts and Themes
Many specialty themes take advantage of Pages and Posts in very complex ways to organize large collections of content items.
- Portfolio themes often organize images as single posts.
- Retail sales themes often put each item for sale on a separate post.
- Magazine themes offer special home page display options to highlight posts in a lively grid pattern, rather than a simple list.
And so on. (Tip: some special-purpose themes can become quite complex to set up and manage. If possible, always try before you buy.)
Pages and Posts on Your Web Site
While you’re in the planning stages, think about how your site will use Pages and Posts.
For instance, are you a consultant? You might want a site with many Pages describing your services, background, etc., along with a blog. Great, that’s simple and straightforward: Pages for all content; Posts for the blog.
What if you’re an artist? You might have several Pages describing your bio, background, gallery experience, etc. You might even put your art picture galleries on Pages, because you don’t need to archive them by date of entry. Then, you’ll be free to use Posts for time-related announcements: recent work, upcoming exhibits, etc. (I call this a “faux blog.”)
Of course eventually you will encounter themes, theme frameworks, plugins and special functions that can completely untether the important distinctions between Posts and Pages in order to achieve other goals. But without understanding these few key differences between Pages and Posts first, it’s not possible to understand all that WordPress can do.