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Lesson 12 – Part 2 – Organizing Content in WordPress

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Inherent Organization in WordPress

The first part of organizing content in WordPress is the inherent organization that exists in WordPress. By inherent organization what I mean is, organization that exists without you doing anything. WordPress has some organization that is automatic and that is inherent.

It also has some organization that requires you to take steps to employ it. The first thing we’re going to talk about though is Inherent Organization in WordPress and obviously, this organization is associated with content types. The first content type we’re talking about is Pages.

The inherent organization for pages is that pages are hierarchical, that is they have a parent, child and sibling relationships. You can have a page and then it can have subpages and those subpages can have subpages and they create a hierarchy similar to the Biological Taxonomy system.

That’s the only kind of organization though that exists for pages and there’s nothing you have to do in order to make that work. The only thing you have to do is create a page and then say that it’s the child of some other page.

However, none of the other typical WordPress Taxonomies apply to pages. There is no organization of pages by date. The date in which the page was created is irrelevant. There’s no organization by author, there is no display of the author for a page. If you look at an Author archive, the pages that are associated with the author won’t show up because pages don’t have author organization and pages also have no organization by category or by tag.

Hierarchical Organization

The natural thing here for you to take away from that is that pages never show up on an archive page because pages aren’t grouped by anything that is common. They aren’t grouped by date or author, by category or by tag. The only kind of organization that a page has is hierarchical.

Sequential Inherent Organization

Posts on the other hand have an inherent organization that is sequential. That is one follows the other. You write a post,  you write another post and it’s above it and you write another post and it goes above it. There’s no way of making posts hierarchical. A post cannot be a subpost of another post, there is no hierarchy whatsoever in posts, they are only inherently organized sequentially.

However, all types of WordPress Taxonomies apply to posts. They are organized by date, by author, by category or by tag. All of these Taxonomies do automatically apply to posts, however, they are not hierarchical and they are sequential. The sequential nature of a post becomes apparent when you start thinking of the order in which posts are displayed.

Posts are always displayed with the latest post on top. For example, if you’re going to publish a series of posts, where you’ve got part 1, part, 2, part 3 and part 4, and each of those posts are theoretically in a series. If you want them to display properly in that series on your blog page, you have to publish part 4 first, part 3 second, part 2 third and part 1 last so that the first one shows up first because of the sequential nature of posts. The latest post is always on top and the earliest post is always on the bottom so posts are inherently sequential.

Taxonomy Organization in WordPress

You’ll also have Taxonomy Organization in WordPress. In order for a Taxonomy to apply, you have to do something to a post. Now, you don’t have to do anything with the date but you do have to publish a post in order for the date to apply. The Date Taxonomy is sequential. It’s in order of published date and so it doesn’t really kick in until you’ve actually published the post. So as long as it is in draft, it doesn’t have a published date and it’s not organized by date.

That’s the date taxonomy and in fact, people don’t even think of date as taxonomy. Most WordPress people don’t think of the date structure as the taxonomy just because it’s automatically sequential. Nevertheless, because it is a system of organizing posts, classifying posts, collecting posts and displaying posts I believe it’s necessary to describe it as one of the taxonomies.

Same thing is true for Author, except that it is alphabetical. It’s not sequential, it’s not hierarchical, you can’t have a sub author and there’s no such thing as the first author, the next author and the last author. The  only way in which authors are organized is by alphabet. It’s often common not to think of author as being a taxonomy but again, because posts can be retrieved by author, can be organized by author, displayed by author it is properly a taxonomy.

Categories and Post Tags

Then you come to the things that people generally refer to as Taxonomies and that’s Categories and Post Tags. Now, Categories, are hierarchical. Just like pages, Categories can have parent categories and child categories and grandchild categories or categories, subcategories, sub subcategories, that’s their fundamental organization.

Categories are hierarchical which means they are not sequential. Categories are not organized by sequence, it doesn’t matter when the Category was created, it only matters where in a hierarchy that Category is placed and so the fundamental organizational structure of a Category is its hierarchy.

Post Tags are sort of the opposite. Post Tags are alphabetical, they are not sequential. It doesn’t matter when a Post Tag was created, it’s never going to be organized by post tag creation date, they’re not hierarchical and you cannot have a sub post tag. Post Tags just sit as tags and are only organized by their tag name which essentially makes them alphabetical.

Hierarchical and Non-hierarchical Custom Taxonomies

Then you have Custom Taxonomies that WordPress provides for and custom taxonomies can either be hierarchical or nonhierarchical. They can’t obviously be both but it’s either one or the other. By default they’re not hierarchical so when you create a custom taxonomy, make it hierarchical.

If they’re not hierarchical, then they are alphabetical. If they are hierarchical of course, they aren’t alphabetical and they are never sequential. It doesn’t matter when a custom taxonomy was created, the sequence of its creation is never an organizational element of it.

What that leads you to is the conclusion that Custom Taxonomies can be either like Categories or Post Tags. They can be like either one of those two things. On our website for example, we don’t really use Post Tags because I wasn’t able to figure out a good reason for using them but we do use a couple of Taxonomies, one that is not hierarchical and that is topics and another that is hierarchical and that’s Lesson Subjects.

If you want to see Lesson Subjects in action, come over here to Basic Tutorials. This is going to change sometime in the future so if you are watching this 6 months from now, the hierarchy is going to stay but the method of browsing through it will be different.

For the time being, we’ve got this Lesson Subject called Using WordPress. If you expand it, inside that Lesson Subject is a series of Lesson Subjects like the WordPress Dashboard or like WordPress Settings. WordPress Settings has child subjects under it like Privacy or General or Reading so you have this hierarchy of Lesson Subjects that can show up.

In any case, the point is that Lesson Subject is a taxonomy. There are upper level taxonomy terms like using WordPress, using Thesis and inside of each of those Taxonomy terms, there are more terms and subterms and this is an example of a hierarchical custom taxonomy that’s used on our byobwebsite.

On the other hand, an example of a nonhierarchical custom taxonomy that’s used on the site are the Live Answer Topics. Those clearly just lay out there alphabetically, there are no subtopics of topics and they just exist in a list by alphabetical list. If you look at a Live Answer, you can see that it has a difficulty level which is a custom taxonomy, it has a topic list which is a nonhierarchical custom taxonomy and it has a Lesson Subject which is a hierarchical taxonomy.

That’s how the Custom Taxonomies work. That’s how you can think about organizing your site and that is organizing your site both from the perspective of the Inherent organization and the Taxonomy organization.

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