Understanding WordPress Content Types

WordPress

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You don’t have to be a programmer to create a WordPress website, but if you know the basic notions of its structure, and in particular, if you understand the types of content that exist, it will be easier to manage. As you may have noticed, when you install WordPress, 3 folders have been created for you:

  • wp-admin: contains the files necessary for the operation of the administration panel (back-end),
  • wp-content: contains the files that will make up the user interface such as themes, plugins, and uploads (the images and files you upload).
  • wp-includes: contains the remaining files from the basic and advanced applications for WordPress operation.

In addition, 17 files are also installed in the root, such as index.php and the rest of files with the prefix wp-. The most important one is wp-config.php, which is created automatically after installation and is where the database parameters, table prefix, and language are indicated.

And what about the content you create? Well, that’s obviously stored in the database:

WordPress database
WordPress database schema.

The most important types of content you can create and display in your WordPress are Users (wp_users), Post Types (wp_posts), and Comments (wp_comments).

Users

When you create your website or blog you should have at least two users: admin, the account you initially set up in WordPress and use to manage your installation settings, and your user account as the author or owner of your blog, which you will use to write your blog posts.

But not only that, if you’re part of a team, you’ll want to create new users on your website. And that’s as easy as doing it in Users » Add new from your WordPress Dashboard.

Add a new user in WordPress.
Add a new user to your WordPress site.

The most important thing you need to know about any WordPress user is that, when you create it, you need to assign them a role or profile. These are designed so that you can control what users can and cannot do on the site. When assigning roles to users, you can manage and grant access to write and moderate posts, create pages, define links, create categories, moderate comments, manage plugins, deal with themes, and control users.

Briefly, the roles you can assign to users are as follows:

  • Administrator has access to every administration tasks.
  • Editor can publish and manage all the posts.
  • Author has the right to publish and manage her own posts.
  • Contributor can write and manage her own posts, but not publish them.
  • Subscriber can read and comment.

Post Types

Post Types are the most important type of content in WordPress, but don’t confuse Post Type with Post. When we talk about Post Type we are referring to the elements that are stored in the wp_posts table of the database, and when we talk about Post, we are referring to a specific type of Post Type that are the posts that are published in a blog.

By default, in a new WordPress installation you have 7 different types of Post Types: Post, Page, Attachment, Revision, Navigation Menu, Custom CSS, Changeset and in the post_content field of the wp_posts table is where you indicate what type of post type it is:

  • Post (Post Type: ‘post’)
  • Page (Post Type: ‘page’)
  • Attachment (Post Type: ‘attachment’)
  • Revision (Post Type: ‘revision’)
  • Navigation Menu (Post Type: ‘nav_menu_item’)
  • Custom CSS (Post Type: ‘custom_css’)
  • Changesets (Post Type: ‘customize_changeset’)

Post

A Post is precisely what you are reading now. It is the content that is published in the blog and is characterized mainly by being content that has an author and a publication date.

For this reason, if you look at the database schema shown above, you will see that we not only store the text of what you are reading (post_content field), but also the creation and modification dates (in local time and GMT time), the author, the title, the extract, etc.

On your WordPress Dashboard, if you click All Posts, you can see the list of posts you’ve created in reverse order from the most recent to the oldest posts you’ve created.

List of posts
List of published posts

And of course, creating a new post is as easy as clicking Add New on your WordPress dashboard menu.

Page

A Page is, as its name suggests, any page of your website that a visitor can access through the options of a menu, or a button or a form. Pages are content that’s usually time-independent. And you can create, edit, and delete the pages of your website, from the Pages of your WordPress dashboard option.

For each of them, you can use a different page template. For example, on our website, you will see that the Nelio Content Features page uses a completely different template than the Nelio Content Pricing page.

Nelio Content Pricing Page
Screenshot of the Pricing page of Nelio Content

Depending on how sophisticated the theme of your WordPress is, you can turn your pages in something eye-catching.

Pages can also be organized hierarchically into pages and sub-pages.

Adding a new page is also as easy as clicking Pages » Add New in the Dashboard

Attachment

An Attachment is an image or file that is uploaded when you click the Add Media button in the editor of an post or page. When you create an Attachment that is an image, the WordPress database also stores the metadata of the image in the wp_postmeta table: the size of the image, the thumbnails generated for that image, the location of the file, and the Alt Text.

Don’t forget to fill in the attachment details of your images with useful content for both search engines and screen readers (used by visually impaired people).

Revision

A Revision is a copy of the different drafts that have been saved from a page or post. 

Revisions in WordPress
At any time you can see the number of revisions of any post you have stored in your WordPress.

This allows you to compare any two different versions of any post or page.

Compare revisions in WordPress
WordPress allows you to explore and compare content between different versions of any post

This type of content is created automatically with WordPress AutoSave and you can limit the maximum number of revisions that can be saved for a post.

Navigation Menu

A Navigation Menu stores information about the different navigation menus your theme may have. The first time you log into WordPress you may not know where to find them… but it’s quite intuitive actually:

Manage menus
On the WordPress dashboard, in the Appearance section, click Menu to create, modify, or delete a menu.

Once you are in the menu editor, you can create a primary and secondary menus (depending on your theme). And for each menu, you can define its structure, the titles of each menu option, and the link to the page you want the user to navigate to when they click on it.

Menu editor.
Menu editor.

In the WordPress Menu User Guide you’ll find more details on how to create and manage menus.

Custom CSS

If originally a website could only be written in HTML, which only included information about its text contents and images, with the appearance of Cascading Styles Sheets (CSS) it was possible to separate the contents (in HTML) from the presentation (CSS). In this way, it was possible to create “ugly” but correct web pages using only HTML. And by applying CSS, it was possible to create “beautiful” pages from the correct HTML pages.

Java Script - CSS - HTML
And then with the release of Javascript we were able to include application code (scripts) to create dynamic web pages.

In WordPress, the one in charge of the style of your website’s appearance is the theme you use. But what if you want to change something about the look of the theme you’re using? The last thing we recommend is that you edit the theme directly, as all subsequent updates to the theme would overwrite your changes.

A very simple option (if it’s a minor change) is to add your own CSS code using the Appearance » Customize » CSS option. An editor will open where you can modify the size of the H1, for example, or add color ranges of tones on a button, etc. Other options to create new CSS styles are to use the Custom CSS plugin or to create a child theme of the theme you have installed.

Changesets

Finally, the Changesets are similar to the auto-saving revisions but specifically for the Customizer. That is to say that everything you customize in your theme is also consistent and you do not lose it.

Custom Post Types

What if you want to create other types of content elements in your WordPress? For example, I need to create news, tutorials, podcasts, courses, recipes, support articles, or downloads to offer to visitors to my website.

WordPress custom post types
Example of custom post types in WordPress

To do this, WordPress allows you to create Custom Post Types (or CPTs). In fact, if your website is an e-commerce site and you are already familiar with WooCommerce, Products are nothing more than a Custom Post Type that WooCommerce adds to WordPress.

If you have to create a new CPT, the easiest way is to install a plugin, such as Custom Post Type UI, to help you create it. Once installed, you will see that with just a few clicks you can have your new type of CPT.

You should also know…

Before moving on to the last type of content, remember that Post Types are the content that will attract visitors to your website and will make your readers become your buyers or loyal readers for life.

Therefore, not only do you have to make sure that the content is of good quality, but you also have to make sure that it’s what your visitors like the most. For this reason, tools such as Nelio A/B Testing allow you to create any A/B test of the contents of your website. You can easily create two or more versions of any type of content and analyze what’s working best for you.

ab-testing
In its simplest form, A/B testing proposes to randomly split the traffic to the site in two groups so that 50% of the visitors see the A design while the other 50% sees the B design. By monitoring how users in each group react, we can calculate the conversion rate of each group and, in case there is a statistically significant difference between the two, declare a winner design.

Comments

And finally, to end the most important types of content, we have the Comments that visitors to your website write to your posts (or pages). Comments are always associated with a post type.

Once you have activated them in your WordPress in the Settings » Comments Settings section, on your dashboard will appear for your readers to add comments section. To easily moderate comments you can also indicate whether you want WordPress to send you an email every time someone writes a comment and that the comments are not published until you have approved them.

And well, I hope this post may have been useful for you to better master the basic content types of your WordPress. See you next time!

Featured image by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash.

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Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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