Before you jump in and start creating new content for your WordPress website, you need to understand the difference between WordPress Posts and Pages.
At first glance, the two content types look nearly identical. When you’re just starting this can be totally baffling. What’s the deal with WordPress Posts and Pages and when should you choose one or the other?
This article will explain the similarities and differences. By the time we’re done, you will confidently create new WordPress content, using either Posts or Pages as appropriate to your needs.
What Is A WordPress Post?
When WordPress was new (well over a decade ago!) it was primarily used as a blogging system. A WordPress Post was a single blog entry. With that in mind, the structure and organization of WordPress Posts make a lot more sense.
When a list of Posts is displayed on your site, you’ll see them displayed in descending date order.
Posts can also be organized with categories and tags. Categories and tags are organizational bits of metadata that you create as needed to tie related Posts together. Those category and tag assignments are collected on an Archive Page.
Depending on how your site is setup WordPress will automatically create one or more of the following Archive Pages:
- Category Archive – an archive of Posts in each category.
- Tag Archive – an archive of Posts in each tag.
- Date archive – an archive of Posts by date.
- Author Archive – an archive of Posts for each author.
On each of these Archive Pages, WordPress displays a list of related Posts in date descending order.
WordPress also creates an RSS feed for your Posts — all Posts, in addition to separate feeds for each Archive Page.
One thing to remember about Posts: You create the Posts in the WordPress admin area, then assign it to a category. WordPress takes care of positioning that Posts on your site and managing where it appears in your archives. Those archives are automatically updated as you add new content. WordPress takes care of the tedious work of managing your website.
What Is A WordPress Page?
On the surface, Pages appear to be nearly identical to Posts. But when you dig in and look at how they’re used, it becomes obvious that they’re very different.
Pages are not part of the date-organized stream of Posts that you see on Archive Pages or your blog Page. In other words, any place where you see a list of Posts, you will never see a Page mixed in.
What’s more, Pages cannot be assigned categories or tags. That’s another reason why you’ll never see Pages listed in an archive.
These two facts raise some questions about how Pages are organized and displayed on your WordPress site.
There are a couple of different ways to organize your Pages:
Organize Pages hierarchically
You might have a Page that represents a whole section of your website — “About our Company,” for example. That section could include separate Pages with information about your location, your staff, your company history, and a contact form.
All related Pages can be grouped together under a parent Page. The related Pages become sub-Pages and create a logical section of your website. When organized this way, WordPress uses the parent Page as part of the URL for the sub-Pages. So, the Page that includes information about your staff will have a URL that looks like this:
And the Page that includes your company history would have a URL that looks like this:
This can be a very powerful way of organizing traditional web content. It also has some SEO advantages, as Google and other search engines can detect that Pages in a given section are related based on the structure of the Page addresses.
Organize Pages by Menus
Pages can also be organized by placing them on the WordPress custom menus. Menu location is determined by your theme. Most themes include a primary menu that appears near the top of your website. By adding your most important Pages to the primary menu, you can ensure that your visitors will find what they’re looking for.
Pages of lower importance can be positioned on secondary menus — many themes include footer menus or utility menus. You can even add menus to any sidebar location using a WordPress menu widget.
The point is that menus are a key way that Pages are organized and presented to your visitors.
These are cornerstone Pages featuring the most important information that seldom changes. This is the information you want your visitors to easily find without a lot of effort.
Other Things That Make Pages Different From Posts
- Pages are excluded from RSS feeds. So if you want your content to show up in the RSS feed, make sure you publish it as a Post and not a Page.
- Page Templates are special layouts that can be applied to individual Pages. Templates are part of your theme, and not all themes include Page templates. If yours does, you’ll see available templates listed in the Page Attributes box on the Page Edit screen.
- Menu Order, also located in the Page Attributes box. Menu Order is a numeric value that WordPress uses to determine the display order of Pages in some circumstances. Occasionally a theme will display a list of Pages automatically. The Menu Order determines how that list is ordered. Menu Order is a holdover from the days before custom menus.
When To Use A Post
Posts are best used for things like blogs, news stories, event announcements, and anything that’s time sensitive.
You need to use a Post if you want your content to appear as a new item for the readers who follow your updates by RSS.
Posts are also good for any content that has lots of individual entries that need to be organized around a common theme — using categories and tags. For example, you may Post a music review that you wish to organize by genre. Create a category for each genre and then assign each of your reviews (Posts) to an appropriate category.
When To Use A Page
Pages work best for content that needs to be regularly accessed. Your most important Pages will be linked from the primary menu on your site. This is usually content that doesn’t change often — Pages like “About Us” and “Contact” are fairly constant.
If you are building a more traditional business website as opposed to a blog, you will use Pages for most of your business content.
Additionally, you should use Pages for any content that is organized hierarchically. For example, you might have Pages for each department in your company. Those Pages can be grouped under the main Page by selecting the Main Page as the “Parent,” under Page Attributes, for each of the departmental Pages.
Also, if your theme includes custom Page templates, use Pages whenever your content requires the special layout provided by the template.
What’s On Your Home Page?
Now that we’re clear on the differences between Posts and Pages, you’re probably wondering about the most important Page on your website. The Home Page. Should your home Page be a Post, a Page, or something else entirely?
The answer depends on what type of website you have. And also, which theme you’re using.
Most blogs display a list of Recent Posts on the Home Page. Nearly any WordPress theme is capable of displaying blog Posts on the Front Page.
However, a good business website will have more than a list of Blog Posts on the Home Page. You should include some information about your company, your mission, your products and services, and a call to action.
There a couple of different ways to change your Home Page from a simple list of blog Posts to something more appropriate for a business website.
The first is to use a theme that has a special home Page template. Most business-oriented themes include special templates and settings Pages that allow for a highly customized home Page.
If your theme doesn’t include a layout for the Home Page, WordPress lets you promote any Page to be your Home Page. These options are available on the Reading Settings Page.
In your WordPress admin area go to Settings -> Reading. The first setting on this Page is “Front Page Displays.”
You have two options for your home Page: A list of Blog Posts or a static Page. To change from a list of Blog Posts to a Page, click the radio button next to “A static Page,” and then select the desired Page from the drop-down box. Note, the Page needs to be created first. Also, you will only see published Pages. So any Pages set to Draft won’t appear on the list.
Of course, once you set your front Page to a static Page, you need a place to put your blog Posts. WordPress allows you to do that with the next drop-down box. Select any Page to be your “Posts Page” a WordPress will automatically use that Page to list all of your latest Posts. You’ll want to create a blank Page named Blog before adjusting this setting.
You can also use the Theme Customizer to change these settings. The advantage of doing so is that you’ll see a preview of your changes in real-time, and you can create your new blank “Blog” Page right from the theme customizer.
Putting The Pieces Together
Now that you understand the difference between Posts and Pages take some time to think about your website and the information you’re publishing.
Use the content type that’s most appropriate for each piece of content you plan to publish. Keep your site visitors in mind as you organize that content. After all, your website is there to serve your visitors. If they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, what’s the point?