Why Posts and Pages?
Since WordPress was released as a blogging platform in 2003, bloggers have been publishing their thoughts and theories on a range of subjects and topics, such as sport, travel, hobbies, beauty, politics, art, and other lifestyle ventures, all without the technical expertise normally needed to build and maintain a website. Their posts often encourage conversations with the inclusion of a comment section where readers can respond to the articles and interact with the discussion. In this way, blogs are similar to social networks, but usually with longer-form content.
By default, WordPress displays posts in reverse chronological order on the blog page, so that the newest content is shown at the top of the list. This means users can read the latest (or most important) information each time they visit the site. The auto-generated lists also mean bloggers can spend more time creating great content rather than worrying about organising and displaying their posts.
However, most websites include some information which is static rather than time sensitive. Obvious examples include contact and about us pages, privacy policies, disclaimers, and information about cookies. Following the conventions of web design, these pages are usually placed in the footer and do not need to appear on the blog pages.
That is why WordPress offered bloggers the ability to separate content into dynamic posts and static pages.
Although WordPress has evolved to support other web content types, the platform retains this important infrastructure. If you want to create a user-friendly website, you need to understand the different features of posts and pages.
What are the Differences?
The similarities and differences are summarisd in the following infographic:
Why should you use Posts?
Whenever you visit a website to read the latest news, sports results, music and movie reviews, celebrity stories, walkthroughs for games, or even a guide to media studies, you are probably not aware the writers have used the post format to publish their content. Posts are great for a number of reasons.
First, the ability to categorise and tag articles makes them incredibly straightforward to manage and, importantly, more accessible to users. For instance, an astronomy website might group articles about Mercury, Venus and Neptune into a category called “planets”. If you are amazed by the latest pictures from Mars but would like to learn more about the other planets, you just need to click the link to the category page so see the full list of posts. The website might also use tags to identify more specific aspects of their posts, such as “NASA” and “robot exploration” in our example. Again, each link will open a tag page populated with the most recent news related to those topics.
When you publish or update a post, WordPress takes care of adding the posts to the relevant archive pages. This automated process is fantastic for website owners because it saves so much time organising and displaying their awesome content. For more information about how to classify posts, read our quick guide to adding categories and tags in WordPress.
Posts are dynamic, meaning they can be used and shown in many different ways on blog pages, including chronological and alphabetical order, according to popularity, or the number of comments made by users. WordPress auto-generates the presentation of the posts in the archive pages.
Another benefit of using posts is the ability to customise your metadata; lots of themes will publish the author’s name, timestamp, and category by default, but you can choose to exclude these details. Your theme will also determine the look and feel of each post, so you never have to worry about the overall layout each time you publish something new.
Finally, posts are designed to be easily shared on social media and added to RSS feeds, letting followers know when something new has been added.
If you are using WordPress as a blog to share information, you will probably use posts for the majority of your website’s content.
When should you use Pages?
Pages are designed to exist outside the normal blog structure so they should be used for static content which is always relevant to your user and does not change much over time. This makes the page format perfect for about and contact pages, copyright information and policy documents. Here is a general rule you could follow: if the link to the page appears in the main navigation menu or in the footer, that content should probably be published as a page.
Pages can be organised into pages and subpages. These are known as parent and child pages. Think about the structure of a school’s website. A parent page might provide an overview of the curriculum with child pages used to deliver more specific information about each subject. The permalinks might look something like this:
This setup is useful because the information won’t change much from one academic year to the next and you can use breadcrumbs on each page to help users navigate around the site.
It is important to note you can use both pages and posts on the same site. Therefore, the school might also use a blog to keep students and parents up to date with the latest news and achievements.
In conclusion, if your content rarely needs to be updated and can be neatly organised into the parent and child hierarchy, use pages to publish your content.
Other Content Types
WordPress allows you to create your own custom post types (CPT). An eCommerce store will design and develop their own products template or a photographer might use a portfolio plugin to help present their work. A CPT could be ideal for displaying upcoming events, a business to highlight their team members, and to add testimonials from satisfied customers.
Custom post types are great because site managers don’t have to work with complex coding every time they want to add a new product, event or testimonial. They can simply create a new post, write the content and WordPress will do the rest.
An archive page in WordPress refers to a collection of posts grouped by metadata, such as the category and tag information. However, WordPress will also automatically generate author and date pages when someone clicks on each link so you don’t have to waste your time building a page every time you add a new term. It is a simple and practical way for users to discover content.
Most themes will determine the look and layout of your archive pages. One common design is the combination of the featured image, title and brief excerpt from the post. This particular post might appear in archive page with the following layout:
Posts could be presented as a list or appear in a grid on larger devices. Again, the look will depend on the theme you install.
This automated process is a key reason why website owners like to use posts in WordPress.
The appropriate of use posts and/or pages is essential to create a clear structure your users and search engines will understand. Don’t worry if you start building your site and you change your mind about the format you are using to publish content. The Post Type Switcher is a plugin which enables you to reassign any post to a new post type or page.
Ready to start writing a post? Check out our tutorial on creating and publishing your first post. You should also read our guides to the different blocks available in the Gutenberg Editor, such as the text blocks and media blocks.