Philip Northeast's Web Design Tips

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WordPress Navigation Using Pages and Categories

WordPress has two main methods for navigation and post presentation available for  theme designers.  They can use custom pages or categories to organise posts for readers.

In WordPress pages are for an overview of topics while categories organise collections of related posts. Using categories as the primary navigation method displays posts in order of  their creation, with the latest shown first, revealing WordPress’s blogging heritage.

Choosing WordPress pages as the main navigation method is the WordPress  strategy  for creating a Content Management system (CMS). In this strategy posts are not as time related as the simpler category method, and each post is equally important. A WordPress page uses categories for  lower level navigation to posts for a topic.

A WordPress page is part of the theme design, while categories are created and posts assigned in the content creation phase. There is interaction between  the two stages  as the WordPress page template in the theme needs to know category details.

This procedure is not as flexible and simple as using categories for navigation and requires careful planing of the category architecture. However, for larger sites it gives readers access to lists of post titles for a category in the one place, rather than scrolling through posts.

For simpler structures it is possible to use categories. A category template displays web pages listing the excerpts for that category and any sub categories.

All the excerpts for a category are displayed, with the limit per page set in the admin area. When the number of  posts  in a category exceeds this limit, the reader is given the option of going to the next page  by clicking on an  “older entries” arrow. They can also go back with a “newer entries” arrow.

For simple WordPress based web sites it is easier to using categories as a basis for navigation. If your WordPress site outgrows the simple category based navigation it is easy to move to a WordPress page based system. The WordPress page navigation sits on top of the category system meaning little, if any, changes are required to posts and their category structure.

It is easy to add categories as your site grows, but for either system it still needs careful consideration  to avoid creating  a complex monster.