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WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS)

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Welcome to Lesson 9, Add Blog Functionality to the Site, in our course how to build a Professional Website in WordPress and Thesis 2.2.

Today we are going to add the blog functionality to our website. It’s not going to strictly speaking be a blog but I am going to show you how a small business can use the blog functionality to its benefit. It’s especially useful when it comes to attracting search traffic and demonstrating expertise.

But before we get to that you need to understand how WordPress is organized and the terminology involved.

What’s a CMS?

When we talk about a website like this what we’re really talking about is a content management system. Now that’s essentially what WordPress is, it is a content management system.

So what is a Content Management System? It is a web application that allows you to create, organize and manage various various types of content and to display that content on the web.

That’s exactly what WordPress lets you do. So far we’ve been using WordPress as a very simple Content Management System because we’ve only worked with one content type, pages, and we’ve only used one method of organization and that is hierarchical.

You’ve got a parent page and a child page. That’s the hierarchy that we used to create our URLs. But now we’re going to show you how to use another content type with a different hierarchy.

Defining the Terminology

Before we begin we need to first define some terminology. It turns out that terminology in WordPress is really imprecise.

WordPress Uses Common Terminology Differently

Unfortunately it redefines commonly accepted terminology like page and homepage. It creates a brand new terminology like front page and blog page. This ends up confusing people because it uses words differently than you would expect them to.

It also takes generic terms and makes those apply to specific things and take specific terms and make them apply to generic things. So it’s a little tricky talking about these kinds of things and WordPress. I want us to work on a shared terminology so that when I say web page, you always know what I mean.

A Web Page

A web page is a view of your website generated by WordPress. It’s not a file like an HTML site, it’s not a collection of files. It is a view of your website generated by WordPress.

Content Type

A content type is any type of content that can be distinguished by the method of organizing it.

In our website example services and finished projects are not two different types of content. They’re the same kind of content. They are both pages and they are organized in exactly the same way. They have parent child hierarchical relationships between each other that create the organizational structure that we see.

Taxonomy

Something we haven’t talked about yet but we are now going to talk about is a taxonomy. A taxonomy is a system of organization or classification. In other words, we’re talking about categories and tags in WordPress.

For this idea of a system of organization it might be helpful to think of it using a biology example. Biology starts off with domain. And then inside of domain is kingdom and then phylum. Inside of phylum is class and inside of class is order then family, genus and species. So if you can think back to your high school biology class the human taxonomy looks something like this.

This is exactly the way hierarchical taxonomy works. And this method of classification or organization is built into WordPress and and it allows a couple of different types of that. We’re going to come back and talk about that in a second.

Four Built In Content Types in WordPress

WordPress has four built in content types.

  • Pages
  • Posts
  • Attachments
  • Custom Post Types

It has pages and posts. It has attachments which really you rarely interact with. An attachment is essentially the image that you added to a page. Every time you add an image to a page it makes it an attachment but you really don’t interact with attachments in the same way you interact with pages and posts.

And then the fourth one is custom post types. Custom post type is just a customized version of pages or posts. But there are no built in custom post types because a custom post type is something you create for yourself.

Built In Taxonomy in WordPress

WordPress also has some built in taxonomy. And those built in taxonomies are the following.

  • Categories
  • Post Tags
  • Date
  • Author
  • Custom Taxonomies

Example Using This Type of Organization

If you’ve got a blog that has a whole bunch of different authors or if you’ve got a newspaper site or magazine site that has different authors and guest authors, you can organize your articles by author or by the date it was published or by the category or section of the magazine it’s in.

Those are all ways of organizing content or different ways of organizing the same content. That’s the same thing WordPress has here categories post tags date author and then also custom taxonomies that you can define and implement on your own.

Types of Pages WordPress Generates

WordPress generates a variety of types of web pages.

Page

The first type of web page is the one that we have looked at the most and that is a page page. A page page is a web page that displays a page content type.

So in our example. This is a page. It is the finished projects page and it is displaying the page post type.

Post

A post or a post page is a web page that displays a single post content type. And is often referred to as “single”. If you see the term single you know they’re talking about a post. We haven’t really talked much about posts yet but in our example site each one of these articles is a post.

I’ll select this article. Now what we’re looking at is a single post. You can even see down the bottom corner it’s showing that it’s using the single template.

Way back when there were two types of pages there was a page that showed all of your blog posts and then there was a page that showed each individual blog post. So one of them was home and the other was single. That’s how it this terminology began.

A single post or a post page displays a single post.

Posts Page

Next up is the Posts Page. Notice that this is a plural. It is a web page that displays a series of posts with the latest post first and the oldest post last. It can be the main page but it doesn’t have to be.

Main Page of Most Blogs

A typical blog doesn’t have a static front page and the main page is the posts page. So when you go to the main domain that page is just displaying the latest posts with the latest one at the top to the oldest one at the bottom. Our articles page here is that posts page. Imagine the confusion you have when you see that this is the home template down here.

Something Thesis does is tell you is what template you’re working on. This is the home template even though it’s not the home page, right. The home page is this page which WordPress calls your front page. Whereas WordPress calls your home page whatever page happens to display all of your posts with the newest one of the top and the old one at the bottom.

Front Page

The next type of page it creates is the front page which we just looked at. A front page is the home page, the real home page, not the WordPress home page.

The front page is the homepage. It’s a web page that displays either the posts page or a page page. Right now we have it set up so that the front page displays a page page. Although the blog could be set up so the front pages splays the posts page instead. Either way, that’s what the homepage is.

Search Page

WordPress also generates a search page so when you search for something the search page comes up. It generates a 404 page. That is the page that comes up when there is an error when you are trying to find a URL but can’t.

Attachment Page

WordPress also generates an attachment page which is a web page that displays an attachment. In our case that is an image. And so for each image that you put in a post there is an attachment page for that image. It’s not particularly useful but nevertheless it exists.

Archive Pages

And then finally. WordPress generates archive pages. Archive, in this case, is an entire misnomer. It doesn’t mean anything that you would expect it to mean in English. An Archive page is not a page that is storing old posts.

An archive page is a web page that displays a collection of posts that share a common taxonomy.

So WordPress generates a category archive page for every category you create. WordPress automatically creates a page that displays all the posts that have that category.

It creates post tag archive pages which again is a collection of all of the posts that have a given post tag.

It creates a date archive page and those dates go in the order of day, month and year. So you can see all the posts in a given year. All the posts in a given month or all the posts on a given day. That’s the date archive page.

The author archive page has all of the posts that were written by the same author.

And then a custom taxonomy archive page is a page that displays everything that has been marked with a specific custom taxonomy. We’re not going to do anything with custom taxonomies I just want you to hear that word so you know that it exists in this process.

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