Posts vs. Pages

This article, Posts vs. Pages, demonstrates the difference between WordPress posts and pages by discussing their function and attributes. With respect to the WordPress database, the heart of the content management system (CMS), content intended for output to a browser viewport is saved in a table named with a _posts suffix. That table possesses a column labeled post_type which stores the post type value for each table record (i.e, post). Every record in the _posts table possesses a post_type which may take on a plethora of values depending on the amount of customization configured into the WordPress installation. There are actually five predefined post types included in a WordPress default installation; however, the subjects of this article are post and page.

Posts

The post, post_type was included in the original release of WordPress in 2003. Posts, according to the official WordPress Glossary are…

“Also known as articles and sometimes incorrectly referred to as blogs. In WordPress, posts are articles that you write to populate your blog.”

Posts are WordPress content designed to be classified. To describe its system of classification, WordPress embraces the term taxonomy, which in its general sense is defined to be the practice and science of classification. The two predefined (i.e, default) taxonomies WordPress uses to classify posts are category and tag. Categories and tags exist for the purpose of classifying posts in meaningful ways, providing a visitor the means for easily locating the content (posts) they seek.

According to the official WordPress Glossary entry for category

“Each post in WordPress can be filed under one or more categories. Thoughtful categorization allows posts to be grouped with others of similar content and aids in the navigation of a site.”

The function of category has been extended to other uses; however, for the purpose of differentiating posts from pages, this is a suitable description. We won’t discuss subcategories here, just be aware that categories may be subdivided for greater specificity.

The tag, often confused with category, is a different animal. A tag is a keyword describing all or part of a post. Tags are dependent on the content of individual posts and are specific to its topic. Upon acquiring an understanding of the category and tag taxonomy, it becomes apparent the goal of WordPress is to incorporate a hierarchical (top-down) system of taxonomy with a fine grained attribute twist. As an analogy, consider classifying (i.e, categorizing) Humans into Animalia…Mamalia…Homo_sapien… and finally “tagging” those who prefer beer rather than wine.

In addition to classifying posts by category and tag, posts are organized by default in reverse chronological order; i.e, the latest post appears first in the browser’s viewport. Default means there are several ways to modify this behavior, but that’s another story.

Pages

In WordPress page refers to a very specific feature first introduced in WordPress version 1.5. The page post_type is often used to present time independent (i.e, static) information about yourself or your site; and, should not be confused with the time oriented, categorized and often tagged post. An example of the proper usage of the WordPress page would be to create a “Contact Us” page for your company’s website.

There is perhaps one confusing page attribute, at least with respect to WordPress new comers, that should be addressed here. When one decides to change the WordPress default behavior of displaying a reverse chronological list of posts on the home page of their website, to instead display a static home page, a WordPress page needs to be selected in the “Front page displays” section of the Dashboard Reading Settings in order for their posts to be accessible from the website’s main menu. The details of which are straightforward and we shall conclude this article with the steps involved.

First create a blank page, perhaps named Blog, or Posts. If an existing page is chosen as a “Post page” in your Reading Settings, your list of posts will be substituted for your existing page content when the page’s menu entry is clicked. You will not permanently loose the content but as long as the page name is specified in the “Front page displays” section of the Dashboard Reading Settings, you will not be able to view its content from the main menu.

Next migrate to Settings > Reading and focus on the the “Front page displays” section at the top of the page. Select the static page radio button and from the “Posts page” pulldown menu, select the blank page you just created.

The final step is to click on the “Save Changes” button.

We hope this article has helped you understand the distinction between posts and pages and you will return for more knowledge in the future as your WordPress utilization grows.

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