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Lesson 12 – Part 1 – WordPress as a Content Management Sytem (CMS)

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Good evening everybody and welcome to this Lesson 12 of our live How to Build a Professional Website Using WordPress and Thesis class. Tonight, we are going to discuss how to use WordPress as a Content Management System in the context of the site and we’ll be discussing how to add blog functionality to the site and what adding blog functionality actually means.

What is a Content Management System?

We’re going to talk about a bunch of different concepts here at the very beginning and the first concept that we’re going to discuss is, “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 and once you’ve done that, to display that content on the web. By definition, WordPress is a Content Management System because it allows you to do just that. In fact, we’ve been using WordPress as a very simple Content Management System.

We’ve had one content type and that’s Pages. We’ve had one method of organizing and that’s hierarchical with pages and subpages, that’s all that we’ve done so far. Nevertheless, what we’ve done so far actually is using WordPress as a simple Content Management System because we use WordPress to create, to manage and to organize those pages and then display them.

Learning WordPress Terminology

Now, in order for us to take it further, we need to learn some terminology and we are disadvantaged in this process because WordPress terminology is actually very imprecise. WordPress began with a few guys in their basement putting together some code that allow them to blog.

This was before blogging was really practically well-defined and all they are really doing was sharing their thoughts and ideas about whatever content or concepts they thought were important at the time. The idea that somehow this would grow into a full blown content management system or a full blown web application that millions of websites would be run on was never at the beginning of this.

They used terms for things that seemed like they were appropriate at the time but that in fact, makes it more difficult for us to talk about now. For example, they re-defined commonly accepted terminology such as a Home Page and the Page.

They used generic terms for specific things and specific terms for generic things so they might have used the term like kleenex for generic and then used toilet tissue as a specific subset within that generic. We’re going to end up having to wrestle with that just a little bit.

Having said that, we will try to use terminology as precisely as possible and try to help you understand where the terminology starts going astray a little bit.

Web Page Generated by Thesis

To start off with, we want to talk about a web page. Because we use the term “Page” in many different contexts and mean different things when we say “Page”, we’re going to rescue the term “Web page” as a view of your website that is generated by Thesis. Anytime you are looking at your website, you’re looking at a web page that is generated by Thesis and when we mean web page, we’ll try to say web page.

Organizing Content Types

A Content Type is any type of content that is primarily distinguished by a method of organization. As the web author, you’re really going to decide what your content types are. If you are a blogger, your content type is blog posts, if you’re a video blogger then your content type is video blog posts and if you are a forum owner, your content type might be forum posts.

The specific content type is not quite important as is the method of distinguishing between content types. In this case, the method that we’re going to use to distinguish between content types is how those content types are organized which may feel odd to you but nevertheless, that’s what we’re going to do here.


Now we’re going to talk about Taxonomies. A Taxonomy is a system of organization or classification. We’ve got a web page which is a view of your website generated by WordPress, Content Type which is a type of content that’s distinguished by how it’s organized and a Taxonomy which is a system of organization or classification.

In order to give you a familiar way in which taxonomy is used, I’m going to use the example from Biology. In Biology, everything is named in a Taxonomy and that taxonomy has a hierarchy. It starts with domain and then kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species, it’s in that order of hierarchy.

Actually WordPress works very much the same way and if we look at the human taxonomy, it comes from this domain and from the animal kingdom. We’re in the class of mammals in the order of primates, in the family of hominidae and then the genus Homo and the species Homo Sapiens and then the subspecies of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

We are classified in this system of classification which used a Taxonomy. This is exactly the same kind of organization system or classification system that we are talking about in our website when we use the term Taxonomy, that is it’s going to be a system of organizing our information. Sometimes it’s going to be hierarchical just like the biological taxonomy is and sometimes it’s not going to be hierarchical but nevertheless, we have these 3 things. We have a Web Page, a Content Type and a Taxonomy.

WordPress has a number of content types and actually this is a simplified discussion of it still. There are actually more content types than I’m going to describe here but those other content types are invisible to you. You don’t see them, interact with them or deal with them. They are primarily functions of how WordPress works.

Attachment to Pages or Posts

The tool that you are most familiar with because we’ve talked about them are Pages and Posts but there are also attachments. An attachment is some kind of media that is a attached to either page or a post. For example, post images that we’ve placed on our pages so far are attachments.

Custom Post Types

Then there are Custom Post Types. We don’t have any custom post types ourselves because WordPress provides for the opportunity for custom post types but doesn’t actually create any. So, we have these built-in pages, posts and attachments and the ability to create custom post types.

Custom Taxonomies in WordPress

What WordPress also has are Taxonomies. It has categories, it has post tags, date, author and then it has the ability to create Custom Taxonomies. If categories, post tags, date and author are not sufficient organizational structures for you then you have the ability also to create custom taxonomies.

Again, we aren’t going to create any custom taxonomies in this class but I want you to understand the concept of fixed taxonomies and custom taxonomies nevertheless exists within WordPress.

Types of Web Pages

WordPress generates several different types of web pages. Remember, web pages are a view of your site that’s generated by WordPress and WordPress naturally generates several different types of web pages.


The first and the one that you’re most familiar with is a Page page. It is a web page that displays a Page content type where posts and pages are two different types of content. A Page page displays the Page content type.

Post Page

A Post page is a web page that displays a single Post content type which is sometimes referred to as a “single”. Remember that we have evolved from the blog world and as part of that evolution, blog posts were displayed several of them together or individually so the blog page displays several posts and if you’re looking at an individual post then you would be looking at a single post.

Types of Web Pages WordPress Generates

A Post page is a web page that displays a single Post or a simple type of content called the post. So we have a Page page, a Post page then we have Posts page which is plural.

Posts Page

We also refer to it as a blog page and that’s the web page that displays a series of posts generally with the latest post first. This Posts page can be the main page of the site, that is if you type, the post page could be the page that shows up in that case but it doesn’t have to be.

If you remember back to I think it was Lesson 5 in the Start Building Your Website Here Series, we talked about the different flavors of WordPress and one of them was the blog site, the other one was a static site and another was a combination.

In a blog site, the Posts page is the Home page or the Main page. If we come over to my site for example and go to the blog page. The blog pages is my posts page and it shows my posts starting with the latest post and following with earlier posts in the order in which they were posted, that’s a Posts page.

Front Page

On the other hand, a Front page is the Home Page. The Front page is a web page that displays either the Posts page or a Page page. It displays one or the other, it can’t obviously display both but it is the main page. It’s the Home page, it’s the Front page. It’s the page that you go to when you type

In this case, if you type in, it takes you to the Front page, which is this page. And this page is a Page page which means it’s displaying a static page and not displaying the posts. That’s the Front page.

Before we move any further, let’s just summarize. The Page page displays a page, a Post page displays a post, the Posts page, that is posts plural, displays a group of posts and the Front page, that is the Home page, can display either a Posts page or a Page page, okay?

You can see why this terminology is imprecise and it can be complicated because we keep using Page in all kinds of contexts. We think of Home page in a variety of contexts, we think of posts in a variety of contexts and so it’s less than precise sometimes. There are other kinds of pages that WordPress generates as well. We just talked about 4 of them but there are some others.

Search Page

The Search page, which is a web page that displays search results. If you use a search widget on your site and somebody types a search term in that search widget, WordPress returns a Search page which has the results of that search.

404 Page

It also has a 404 page which is a web page that displays the 404 errors and anything else that may go along with that. On Wednesday morning, we talked a little bit about a 404 error page and I showed some custom code that I use for my 404 error page. WordPress automatically would generate a 404 page.

Attachment Page

WordPress also automatically generates an Attachment page. I think it’s an entirely useless thing to generate but nevertheless, it does generate an Attachment page which is a web page that displays an attachment all by itself. Again, an entirely useless page as far as I can tell. Certainly, we won’t be relying on them.

Archive Page

One that I think is misunderstood but is extremely flexible but nevertheless only a part of the blog posts part of the site is the Archive page. An Archive page is a web page that displays a collection of posts that share a common taxonomy. For example, it will display a bunch of different posts in the same category or all of the posts by the same author or all of the posts in this month or all of the posts in this year. It is a page that displays a collection of posts that share a common taxonomy.

Types of Archive Pages

There are Category archive pages, Post Tag archive pages, Date archive pages, Author archive pages and Custom taxonomy archive pages.

Post Tag Archive Page

If we come back over to BYOB Website and we go back over to our blog for a moment which is a Posts page and if we click on a single post like the main clinic supply website post, we are looking at a single post page.

Custom Taxonomy Archive Page

It’s listed on our Lesson Subjects and in this case, Lesson Subject is Custom Taxonomy on my site. If we click on that Lesson subject Website Design, we will be sent to a Custom Taxonomy archive page that displays all of the posts that are in this custom taxonomy under Website Design.

Category Archive Page

The same thing happens in Categories. For example, I could click on the Thesis Forum Answers category and get an archive page that displays all of the posts that are in the category of Thesis Forum answers. If I click on one that says, How to Make an E-Commerce Website, I’ll be taken to the category archive page of that. That one just sends me to the Home because I have that redirected. I have some things going on here that redirect category archive pages to specific pages and that is perhaps a little misleading in this conversation.

If we look at Live Answers for a moment, this Live Answers page is actually a Custom Taxonomy archive page and it is showing all of the live answers that are inside of the custom taxonomy of topic. Here are live answer topics and if we click on one of those live answer topics for example, Addon Domain, we’ll see all of the Live Answers that are under the topic Addon Domain and this is another kind of archive page. You have all these different types of potential archive pages.

Author Archive Page

Now, I’m not showing you author here because so far, I’m the only author. We don’t really display author pages although you could actually get to an Author page if you wanted to see all the posts that are written by me.

Date Archive Page

I also don’t show Date archives but WordPress does automatically generate Date archive pages. I just don’t happen to find those useful so I don’t expose those on the site. Nevertheless, all of the kinds of archive pages that WordPress can create actually do exist on my site, category, post page, date archive, author archive and custom taxonomy archive pages.

Any time you have a collection of content types that have a common organizational structure or a common taxonomy, the page that you’re looking at is an Archive page.

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