Best Practices for Showing Posts in a Category

Portfolio, blog, help videos … how to organize them all?

There are so many ways to show posts, what's the easiest? Best?

There are so many ways to show posts, what’s the easiest? Best?

You’d think, WordPress being a content management system and all and me being a WP guy and all, that’d I’d have the best solution for organizing your content. And I do … but there are so many options.

Posts or Custom Post Types?

Thinking of the future of your content, I sometimes struggle with the idea of custom post types. Custom post types are just like posts, but then they’re named differently. Some themes and plugins use them, but the challenge is that if you stop using that theme or plugin, your CPTs might no longer work. So, simply thinking and planning, I like to use posts for any content. Then you can categorize it, sort it, and display it based on categories, tags, series, or even custom fields. Anyway, let’s just call them posts.

Custom Post Types

To cover this option fairly, it does make a nice delineation between your posts (say, articles, blog posts, etc.) and then use CPTs for testimonials, portfolio items, projects, etc.). It can work well and can do an excellent job of showing that the different content types should be displayed differently.

Category Archive

This is an archive (or list) of all posts in a category. This is the simplest way to show posts. But it will depend on the style of the categories or archives in your theme as to how they show up. The thumbnail to the right shows a grid layout of posts in a category. This set up has a thumbnail, title, excerpt and read more link. This is actually using a plugin to style the columns (even choose how many per category) and the thumbnails and test. Works like a charm.

[box type=”tick”]In case it’s not clear, this is my favorite option. Clean as far as archiving and future smart. [/box]

If your theme does this nicely and has lots of options for styling out of the box, go with it. Ideally, it would have different options for different categories so you could use posts for different types of content and style it differently.

Page with Posts in a Category

Sometimes you want a “page” (in WordPress speak) and then list your posts below. You might want an introductory paragraph or design or lay it out in a certain way that is more trouble with a category archive. If your theme allows this, great. If not, you might need a plugin to, for example, widgetize the page and then use another plugin to add the posts. Styling this list of posts will depend on how the plugin works. Now we’re up to a page plus two plugins and then some styling. It can work, but can take some … work.

With this option you can also run into some confusion your page and post and category hierarchy with where things are: do you want people to get to that page? They might end up at the category archive if they read the post in a category and then click on the category link. If this doesn’t make sense, try it all and you’ll see.

Summary

I write this as we wrap up a huge site with hundreds of pages, posts and categories and it wasn’t always straightforward what should go where, how and menus, widgets, and navigation. A site map complete with even a simple overview of the content on the site can go a long way to help choose what type of content buckets you should use for your site.

2017-05-25T22:50:04+00:00

About the Author:

I’ve done the big corporate thing. I’ve done the creative writer thing. Now I’m happily in the middle. I like to help small businesses who are interested in “working their website before their website works them.” I’m also interested in creating beautiful sites with powerful WordPress themes. Google+

One Comment

  1. Write Every Day Challenge June 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    […] Best Practices for Showing Posts in a Category (Jun 14) […]

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