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Lesson 7 – Part 3 – Using WordPress Tools to Organize the Site

WordPress gives you a couple of sets of tools to help you organize your site. You don’t just have to organize this on your own. There are some mechanisms inside of WordPress that you can employ to get this organization set up. And really, principally, there are two sets of tools.

Training Wheel View of WordPress

It’s important that you understand that this is kind of the training wheel view of WordPress and of its tools. If you’re an intermediate user or if you’re an expert user, it will be very easy for you to look on what I say here and say, “Yeah well, that’s not the whole story.” And it’s true. It’s not the whole story. The purpose for this explanation is to describe the tools in a simple and simplistic format for somebody who doesn’t really know what WordPress can do.

It may be that you’re in the situation at the moment of being comfortable with the training wheel view. And later on in the class, we’ll do a more extensive discussion about what these tools are and we’ll make more subtle distinctions between static tools and dynamic tools. But on a simple level, WordPress provides you with two sets of tools – static tools and dynamic tools.

Static Tools – Pages

In this case, the only static tools that we’re talking about are pages. You may not realize this yet but WordPress has a whole variety of ways in which it displays content. And one of those things is called a page. We’re going to create several pages here today and in fact, today is going to be entirely focused on creating pages. But pages are considered static because they only change when you physically type something in.

Now you’re also going to learn about things that are dynamic that change every time you make some kind of a change on the site. There are lots of dynamic tools on WordPress but in terms of static tools, you’re looking primarily at pages.

Pages are the main tool we’re going to use. And as luck will have it, pages are hierarchical. That means you can lay out pages in an outline. You can have a main page and a subpage and a sub subpage. And that makes pages unique in the types of posts that you can create because pages are hierarchical. You’ll see the benefit of it in a moment.

Dynamic Tools

On the other hand, WordPress also has dynamic tools. And those dynamic tools at this point are posts, categories and tags.

Posts

Posts are essentially the non hierarchical equivalent of a page. And you’ll see in your dashboard, there’s an Add new post button and an Add new page button. Posts and pages are very similar except that pages are hierarchical and posts are not.

Categories

The other dynamic tools are categories and tags and these are both ways of categorizing posts. And categories are hierarchical, that means, you can have a category and a subcategory. So you could have a post that’s about Thesis 2 and it could be under the category Thesis 2 with a subcategory of how to create pages. So Thesis 2, how to create pages. You have 2 categories, one is a subcategory of the parent.

Tags

And then you have tags which are not hierarchical. That is, there’s no such thing as a subtag. They all stand alone as individual elements of indexing. I’m going to show you a fairly built up system of that here on my site.

BYOB Website Examples of Categories and Tags

These are like categories and tags that is lesson subject and topics. For the moment, you can just think of lesson subject as a category. And you can see the outline of the hierarchy here where I’ve got using Thesis 2 as the main category and then BYOB Skins is a child category and then Agility and Maintenance Mode skin for Thesis 2 are subcategories under BYOB Skins.

And the same thing is true for again, using Thesis 2, the Skin Editor. That’s a child category of using Thesis 2 and the columns package is a child category of the Skin Editor. This is the hierarchy that you can create when you are using a category.

For the moment, you can think of topics as tags and you can see there is no hierarchy. I just organize them alphabetically. But there are other ways to organize tags, for example, you can organize them by how many posts are tagged with that and tag clouds are often organized like that. But these are all just alphabetical terms that are tags and they don’t sit inside of any kind of hierarchy. So the PayPal troubleshooting tag is not a child tag of PayPal.

Overview of the Tools

That was a training view. Now we’re going to step out just a little bit further and look at the bird’s eye view of WordPress tools. And instead of thinking about them as dynamic and static, we’re going to think about them as content types and organizational elements.

Content Types and Organization Elements

A content type is a post or a page. There are also custom post types which we won’t talk about in this class but you may as well know they exist. Posts and pages are different types of content and those types of content can be organized by organizational elements. So categories, tags and custom taxonomies, those are organizational elements that can be used to organized content types.

This is a static element and these are dynamic elements. And then you have content types and organizational elements. These are content types. These are organizational elements.

We’re going to spend almost all of our time in this class with one tool though and that is pages. We will spend a little bit of time with posts and categories but primarily, we will be talking about pages. And if that description felt a little awkward, a little over your head or a little confusing, don’t worry about it. We’re going to spend almost all of our time working in pages.

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