WordPress as a Content Management System
Some of you have seen this presentation of mine about using WordPress as a Content Management System already. But I’m routinely surprised by people who have used WordPress for a long time who don’t really understand the fundamental aspect of WordPress as a Content Management System.
I routinely field questions from people asking, “so I’ve got a bunch of posts on a specific topic and I would like to create a page that displays all of the post of that topic” but not realizing that that’s what WordPress does automatically. Its fundamental behavior is to do that sort of thing automatically without requiring you to do anything.
In fact, that’s the way the babyofcolor site was created and still is in its current state. It was set up not knowing that this kind of thing can be automated and that automation is fundamental to WordPress, you don’t really have to do anything to make it automated. So we’re going to talk about here what that means with WordPress as a Content Management System.
What is a Content Management System?
Well, a Content Management System is a web application that allows you to create, organize and manage various types of content and then to display that content on the web. So it’s got the creation, organization, management aspect of it and then it’s got the display aspect of it. WordPress of course, does both of those things.
Simple CMS – Primarily Using Pages
Students in my beginners class are very familiar with using WordPress as a simple Content Management System and that is as using simply the pages. Pages are just one content type and they have one system of organization really and that’s hierarchy. You can have a parent page, a subpage and a sub subpage and that’s really the only organizational model that works with pages.
Simple CMS – Primarily Using Posts
Other people who may be coming to this maybe coming to it from the blog side and have done very little with pages but just have posts and either of those two conditions WordPress acts as a fairly simple Content Management System.
Understanding the WordPress Terminology
In order for us to really grapple with these concepts and for the purpose of this conversation today, we need to talk about some precise terminology. That way you will understand what I’m saying when I say Home Page or Archive Page or Blog Page or Post or Page.
WordPress terminology is pretty fluid and fuzzy. That is, it redefines commonly accepted terminology like Home Page and Page and so in WordPress, those things don’t mean nearly the same thing as they do if you’re coming from some other system or if you’re just coming from a regular old HTML background.
WordPress also uses very generic terms for specific things and specific terms for generic things. So you’re just going to have to go into this conversation recognizing that we have to work out a common language out of terminology that’s not used precisely but that we’re going to try and use precisely in this conversation. In order for me to do that, I’m going to just offer you my definitions here for the purpose of this presentation.
Web Page View
For the purpose of this presentation, a Web Page is a view of your website generated by WordPress and that’s any view of your website whether you’re on the Admin side creating a post or you’re a viewer looking at a 404 error page, it doesn’t matter what views those are, those are all by my definition a Web Page.
The next view is Content Type. Now, for the purpose of this conversation, a Content Type is a type of content that can be primarily distinguished by how it is organized. So, it’s not necessarily what it’s about or whether it’s video or audio or any of those kind of things, it’s primary distinguishing characteristic is the method that is used to organize it.
Taxonomy – A System for Classification
Finally, there’s Taxonomy which is a system of organization or classification. As most of you know, Biology uses Taxonomy quite a bit so I’ll give you an example that you’ll probably be familiar with.The biological taxonomy has domain, kingdom, phylum, class order, family, genus and species and this is a hierarchical taxonomy so each of these sits below the next.
In human taxonomy, the lowest level of taxonomy is domain and then inside of the domain biota, we’re in the animal kingdom. Inside the animal kingdom, we’re of the chordata phylum, then we’re the mammal class and we’re in the primate order. We’re in the hominidae family, in the genus homo, in the species homo sapiens and then the sub species home sapiens sapiens. As you can see this is a hierarchy.
There are other orders inside the mammal besides primates and that’s what makes this taxonomy or this system of organization hierarchical that is, you have a primary taxonomy and then a sub, and a sub and a sub.
WordPress Content Types
WordPress has 4 different types of content. It has Pages, Posts, Attachments and Custom Post Types. Now, remember these are distinguished from each other by the way in which they are organized. That is the distinction actually between each one of these things, Pages, Posts, Attachments and Custom Post Types.
WordPress has 5 different types of taxonomies. It has Categories, Post Tags, Date, Author and Custom Taxonomies. So for example, on a multi-author blog, one of the ways in which blog posts are organized is by author on the blog side of it and posts are also organized by date even if you don’t realize it. These are the built-in WordPress taxonomies or the WordPress system for organizing the content.
Types of Web Pages WordPress Generates
WordPress also generates different types of web pages. Remember the web page is any view of the site that WordPress generates.
WordPress generates a page type of web page which is a web page that displays the Page content type.
You also have a Post page and that’s a web page that displays a single Post content type, sometimes it’s referred to as a “single” rather than as a Post page. You’ll see with Thesis this term “single” banded around quite a bit and a Post page is a web page that displays a single post.
However, the Posts page, that is Posts plural, is a web page that displays a series of posts with the latest post first. And in WordPress, this can be the main page but it doesn’t have to be. In any case, there is one page on a WordPress site always that displays a series of posts with the latest post first and that’s called the Posts page.
Front Page and Home Page
The Front page is the Home Page and we’re using that term generically. The Home Page is the page that you land on when you type in your URL, that’s generically what a Home Page is. WordPress calls that a Front page and that is the webpage that displays either the Posts page or a Page page. It’s going to display one of these two so one of these is going to be your front page.
Additional Pages WordPress Generates
WordPress also generates a Search page which is a web page that displays search results. 404 Error page, which is a web page that displays 404 errors. An Attachment page is a web page that displays attachments and an Archive page.
I left Archive page to the end because this is really what we’re going to spend most of our time talking about generating, customizing and styling . Contrary to its name, an Archive page is a web page that displays a collection of posts that share a common taxonomy, it’s a page that displays a collection of posts that share something in common.
Types of Archive Pages
WordPress automatically then creates a category archive page, a post tag archive page, a date archive page, author archive page and custom taxonomy archive pages. These pages are automatically created by WordPress every time a taxonomy term is created and assigned to a post.
So anytime you add an author and that author writes a post, any date you created post on, any time you create a post tag and add it to a post, a page that will display all of the posts with that same post tag is generated by WordPress.