Good evening everybody and welcome to this Thursday evening edition of How to Build a Professional Website Using the Genesis theme and WordPress. This is Lesson 12 and tonight, we will be talking about how to add blog functionality to a Genesis theme site. We’re going to start off this conversation with terminology that may be unfamiliar to you that is, we’re going to talk about WordPress as Content Management System.
What is a Content Management System?
A Content Management System is a web application that allows you to create, organize and manage various types of content then display that content on the web. So far, we’ve been using WordPress as a very simple Content Management System. We’ve had one content type and that is pages. That content has been organized in one specific method and that is hierarchical.
Understanding Common Terminology Used in WordPress
In order for us to talk about content management in the context of adding a blog to the site, we need to come to a common understanding of some terminology. Unfortunately, WordPress terminology is imprecise. For example, it redefines commonly accepted terminology like home page and page. You would think of the home page as the very first page of your site and you would think of pages as any kind of page but in fact, it redefines that a bit here.
It also uses generic terms for specific things and specific terms for generic things. For example, you might refer to “Kleenex” as a general thing and toilet tissue as a specific term. The problem is of course that WordPress was developed by some kids in their basement. When they imagined it as a blogging platform, they never really thought about WordPress as being the backbone of managing millions and millions of sites like it is and they certainly didn’t think about it as we currently think about it as a Content Management System. They thought it was just a blogging platform so you write blog posts and you publish them.
WordPress has developed quite a bit since then but some of its terminology has stayed fixed from the earlier days of its evolution that’s why its terminology is not as precise as you would like it to be. We’re going to work on some terminology here right off the bat. There are a few things I want to make sure that we understand.
In the conversation that we’re having tonight, we’re going to refer to a web page as any view of your website generated by WordPress. If you can see it on your website and it was generated by WordPress, it’s a web page.
The second piece of terminology is content type. We’re going to talk about content type at length here later on the class. Content type is just a type of content that is primarily distinguished by the method in which it is organized. Right now, the only content type that we’ve talked about are pages and those pages are organized hierarchically but when you start talking about adding blog to the site, we’re going to be adding posts which are a different type and they have a different system of organization.
In fact, the primary distinction between those content types is how they are organized so we have web page, content type then we have taxonomy. Taxonomy is a system of organization or classification. Taxonomy sounds like a big word but in fact, we have a very common taxonomy that we understand from Biology. Perhaps Biology is the first place that the term taxonomy was coined referencing domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.
Each of those things are subcategories if you will of the other. You can see that actively in the human taxonomy, we are in the Domain, Biota which is of course living things, then the Animal Kingdom, the Phylum Chordata, the Class Mammalia, we are of the Order Primates, Family of Hominidae, Genus Homo, Species Homo Sapiens and Sub Species Homo Sapiens Sapiens. That is the human taxonomy and all of creation evidently is divided up into this biological taxonomy or this taxonometric system.
In fact, WordPress works very similarly to this. It has an organizational system called taxonomies that are used to organize its content. Let’s just take a step back here, we’re talking about 3 pieces of terminology. Our web page which is any view of your website generated by WordPress, a content type is a type of content that is primarily distinguished by how its organized and a taxonomy which is a system of organization. Those are the 3 things that I want you to keep in mind here as we work through this.
Content Types in WordPress
Now, WordPress has a variety of content types. We’ve talked about one already which is pages and that’s where we’ve spent a lot of time on the first several lessons of this class. It also has posts which we’ll be dealing with tonight and which are essentially the elements of the blog.
Unbenounced to you, it has another content type called attachments and those are things like images that are attached to posts or pages but we’re not really going to have to deal with attachments tonight. Attachments are sort of a hidden content type but really, an attachment is any kind of media that is extracted from the media library and inserted to a page or a post.
WordPress has custom post types. What that means is that WordPress has this built-in system for you to create other kinds of post types besides pages and posts. These are really the four kinds of built-in WordPress content types, pages, posts, attachments and custom post types.
There are actually a couple of other content types that are essentially hidden from you, you don’t think of them as content types even if you interact with them but if you’re an advanced WordPress person, you’ll recognize that there are a few other content types but for a regular person working with WordPress, really, you have these four.
Methods of Organizing Content Types
Now, WordPress also has a certain set of built-in taxonomies. Keep in mind that taxonomies are means of organization. The two that are the most prominent are categories and post tags. It also has the taxonomies of date and author and it also has the ability for you to create custom taxonomies. In fact, BYOB Website has a number of custom taxonomies.
WordPress has this built-in ability for you to create other methods of organizing your content types besides just categories, post tags, date and author but it does come with these preset into the system.
WordPress generates a whole bunch of different types of web pages. Remember a web page is any view of your site that is generated by WordPress. Any page you can see on your site when you click some place is a web page and those web pages that are generated by WordPress fall into a bunch of different classifications.
The first type is a Page page which is a web page that displays a Page content type. Now, if you’ve been following the class, everything that we have on our demonstration site is of this type, a Page page. It’s the only kind of content type we’ve worked with so far.
The next type of WordPress page is a Post page. It is a page that is similar to a Page page except that, it displays a single Post content type. When you create a post and then you view the post, that is your Post page and sometimes it’s referred to as a “single”. You’re going to see that we have cases where these posts are aggregated together with multiple posts on the same page.
This is one of those artifacts of the earlier design of WordPress when WordPress refers to a single post as a “single”. Anyway, you have a Page page and a Post page, those probably are the two easiest ones to sort of wrap your head around at the moment.
Then you have the Posts page. Notice the difference between Post page and Posts page is the fact that Posts page is plural and it is a web page that displays a series of posts, that is a series of blog posts with the latest post first.
In WordPress, this can be the main page but it doesn’t have to be. This is sort of the default installation of WordPress, what you think of as a home page as the Posts page. If you have posts, they show up on the home page which at that point is the main page or the posts page but it doesn’t have to be that way because WordPress really thinks of your main page or your home page as a front page.
The front page is the page that your URL resolves to so my front page is byobwebsite.com. The front page URL that we’re looking at right now, is sbywh12.byobgenesis.com, it’s the page that the main URL resolves to. That’s what WordPress calls your front page and it can be a web page that either displays your posts or it can be a Page page.
It cannot be a Post page, it can’t be a single post but it can be a Posts page which shows a bunch of your posts or it can be a Page page which we refer to as a static front page. I’m telling you this because this is the way WordPress works but in fact, the Agency Child Theme changes this up.
Agency Theme Front Page
In fact, it turns it upside down because in Agency as well as many other child themes in Genesis, the front page can either be a web page that displays either the Posts page which is all the post on your site, it can be a Page page which is a static front page or it can be the custom home page template which is what we did in our last lesson.
In our last lesson, we talked about this a bit where at first, it showed our posts. It essentially showed “Hello World”, that was the only post on the site but it showed the post. As soon as we put something in the widget area, it activated this custom home page template and as soon as that is activated, that’s actually something different than the Posts page and the Page page.
Use of Pages in WordPress and Genesis
People who are used to working with WordPress find this confusing in Genesis because lots of Genesis child themes do this. I think that you would be better off having a template that you could apply to a static front page just like everybody else does in WordPress.
Be that as it may, Agency and a bunch of other child themes in Genesis have this custom home page where all you do is add a widget to one of those home widget areas and all of a sudden, that home page template kicks in. Now, the home page does not display the posts and it does not display any page content, it just displays the content that’s in all of those widget areas.
What happens to the Post page? The Post page is a regular page that you add the blog template to. This is why from my perspective it’s confusing, because it essentially turns everything around. It take the Post page and makes it static content and it takes the static page and it adds dynamic content to it.
Once you understand it, it’s fine and that’s the thing to understand here. In this case, as soon as you put a widget into one of those home widget areas, the custom home page template kicks in unless of course, you’ve set your Reading Settings so that it’s a static front page. That’s the way in which Agency kind of changes it up a bit.
More Types of Pages Generated by WordPress
That isn’t all the different types of web pages that WordPress generates. WordPress also generates a search page so if you’ve got a search form on your site and you type a search query into that form, the result comes back in a search page. If somebody tries to reach a page that doesn’t actually exists on your site, WordPress generates a 404 error page which is a “Page Not Found” error. WordPress also generates an attachment page and that is just a page that displays an attachment.
You may have run into this already where when you insert an image into a post or a page using the Media Library. The Media Library by default links an attachment page to that image so when you click on that image, it takes you off to a page that just displays that image. Really, I have no idea why WordPress does that. I don’t think it has any value at all in a regular website context but nevertheless, that’s what WordPress does. That is why when I show you how to insert an image, I tell you not to display the attachment URL and we’ll look at that again here later on tonight.
The really interesting page that it generates is an Archive page. WordPress actually automatically generates lots and lots of different Archive pages. An Archive page is simply a web page that displays a collection of posts that share a common taxonomy. If you’re on somebody’s blog and you click on a tag and the site brings up a whole bunch of posts that are tagged that way, that’s an Archive page.
If you’re on a blog and you click on a category and it brings up a whole bunch of posts with that same category, that’s Archive page. It’s a web page that displays a collection of posts that share a common taxonomy. I do see this all the time, people ask the question, “I want to have a page that displays all the posts of a specific category. How do I create that?”. Well, you don’t actually have to create that because WordPress automatically creates an Archive page.
The types of Archive pages that WordPress automatically generates are category archive pages, post tag archive pages, date archive pages, author archive pages and any custom taxonomy that you create can also have archive pages. Essentially, any of these organizational taxonomies automatically create a page that will allow you to view all the posts that are attached to that taxonomy, whether it’s category, post tag, date, author or a custom taxonomy you might create.