More Than Just Posts: How We Use WordPress to Extend Influence
WordPress started in the early 2000s as a platform for blogging. As the development of WordPress has matured over the years, features like themes and plugins now allow developers to use it for much more than just small websites and blogs.
Nevertheless, I still often hear questions like, “but isn’t WordPress just for blogging?” In this post, I’ll talk about a few of the custom feature options we at Forum One implement frequently for the policy-focused organizations that turn to us for web strategy and development.
Note: This post serves merely as an overview of some basic custom features for those less familiar with what WordPress offers. If you’re familiar with WordPress development, this will be very intro level for you.
Posts are the core of WordPress. A post gives you, very simply, the ability to publish content with a title, body text, featured image, tags, and categories. We often encounter a need for unique post types to account for content that isn’t easily accommodated by the default post type, or that needs to have its own “home” on the site. For example, a research organization might be interested in publishing the reports they produce. We can add these items as posts and utilize the category option in WordPress to differentiate them, but doing so only gives us a limited number of options for associating content and presenting them in ways other than the default reverse-chronological order.
In this case, we create a new post type for research articles. Doing this allows us to keep research articles separate from other post content as well as attribute unique fields and taxonomies that will only apply to research articles.
If you’re familiar with PHP, it’s very easy to add the code required to register a new custom post type in WordPress. I won’t go into too much detail on that in this post, but if you’re interested in learning more, a great place to start is at the source — the Post Types documentation of the WordPress Codex.
If you’re not familiar with PHP or WordPress development, another easy way to create custom posts is to use the Custom Post Types UI plugin.
Now that we have a new custom post for research articles, we can go even further. Creating a custom post basically duplicates the default post and assigns it a unique name — it still only has the default options that come with a normal WordPress post.
The research reports we want to display on the site might have any number of metadata by which they can be identified, searched, or filtered — things like topic, type, file download, publish date, and so on. Sure, we can add all these via the WYSIWYG, but the data there is not structured and will be useless to us if we want to use any of the metadata for categorization. By using custom fields, we can assign unique metadata to our new post that are attributed only to that post.
As you can see, utilizing custom post types and custom fields enables you to create a more content-rich experience in WordPress. Look out for future posts where, I’ll talk more about what is required to create custom templates to display the content from custom post types and custom fields.
In the meantime, if you have any immediate questions, feel free get in touch with me.