Goal / Scope
WordPress can be a very powerful tool if used correctly. It can be a great content management system as well. Organization is the key to success with WordPress. The following article outlines what has been determined as best practices for setting up a site and presenting material to users.
After several years of “off and on” use of WordPress, the following guidelines were put together to document how to use categories, tags, pages, and plug-ins to provide a standard, consistent, and user friendly site for visitors.
Methodology / Process Steps
The key to good organization and quick and responsive searches are the categories and tags built in to WordPress. The Categories are general topics while the tags can be used to narrow things down.
A couple of things to note about categories:
- Too many categories can make things messy
- Plan the final design of the site if possible to avoid messy and complex hierarchies within the categories
- Create pages based on the categories and the categories layout
Too much of anything is a bad idea. Categories for a website is no exception. Categories should be created as high level topics and only the topics required.
It is also recommended to have an outline or general layout of the website before putting it together. This will prevent backtracking, overly complex design, and will result in a more efficient build of the site as a whole.
One of the best ways to leverage categories is to create pages based on the same. This will allow simple navigation of the site using specifically defined categories and can also help limit the number of categories created.
Below is a quick example that shows the category / page layout.
A WordPress website needs to be built to provide training, knowledge base, and troubleshooting help for an IT organization. The following categories would be created:
- Knowledge Base
using the Categories Link shown below.
The following pages would also be created:
- Knowledge Base
using the Pages Link below.
Additional pages could be included in the case where nesting was required, but again it is important to remember to match the categories as well.
For example, if Knowledge Base and Troubleshooting needed to be under a Support heading a page for Support and pages for Knowledge Base and Troubleshooting are created and nested under the Support page. This exact structure is then mirrored for the categories of the site, including nesting the Knowledge Base and Troubleshooting categories under the Support category. This will help display the pertinent information when using plug-ins that display posts based on categories.
So to recap, the same 3 categories and pages are still created, but additionally, a Support category and page are also created. The final step is nesting the Knowledge Base and Troubleshooting sections under Support for both the categories and pages.
One of the freely available plug-ins for WordPress allows for placing specific posts on a page based on category membership or tags. It is called List Category Posts and can be added to any WordPress instance easily through the Plugins section. It is recommended to use the category option with this plug-in as it will allow alignment of the pages and categories. A very comprehensive help site is available for details on setting up and placing the short code syntax into pages to produce expected results.
Once pages, categories, and posts have been created, categories assigned to posts and the proper short code placed in the corresponding page, when the page is visited, it will display all the posts from the category / categories listed in the short code for the List Category Posts plug-in providing a very nice navigation to your site.
Known Issues / Troubleshooting
This section is for the issues that have well defined and tested solutions.
Problem: | The wrong posts are being displayed on the page, nothing is being displayed on the page, or all posts are being displayed on the page.
Solution: | Usually is the wrong posts are being displayed on the page, this is usually an indication that the wrong category id was associated with the page, but could also indicate incorrect syntax. Reviewing the short code syntax is the best first step.
If nothing is being displayed on the page, there may be a conflicting plug-in, or again this may be due to incorrect syntax. Disabling all other plug-ins and / or verifying syntax will usually clear up this issue.
If all the posts are being displayed on a page, this indicates most likely a plug-in conflict. Disabling all other plug-ins to allow for a test should verify this.
Problem: | The Category ID or Page ID can’t be determined.
Solution: | A fail safe way to determine the ID for a category or page is to hold the mouse over the link in the category or page listing and look at the URL provided in the bottom of the browser. In the URL there will be an ID=[some number], where [some number] will be the number / ID of the category / page. Below is an example of what to look for.
Above is the link as it would appear in the Category or Page listing. Below is the URL that would be displayed when the mouse is moved over the above link.
List Category Posts Help / Support Site