I fought long and hard to change the name “Pages” in WordPress jargon. After failing miserably, we’re now almost two years into spreading the word that the pseudo-static web pages on WordPress are called “Pages” and all other pages generated by WordPress are called “web pages” or “post views”. While most of the confusion seems to be cleared up, and I still haven’t gotten my wish to be in charge of naming things in WordPress as they haven’t done a very good job with Pages and Widgets ( ;-) ), let’s move on and dig into what these pseudo-static Pages on WordPress really are and help you understand what to do with them.
A Page in WordPress is similar to the old static HTML pages. It just sits there, separate from the rest of the content. But that’s not a good description either.
WordPress pulls content from its database to generate web pages, be it posts, Pages, comments, link lists, or other elements into content place holding template files that make up your WordPress Theme. The content from your posts and Pages are stored in the database, but they are treated differently depending upon how they are retrieved and used on your WordPress blog.
Posts, your blog content pages, are pulled in from the database using the PHP WordPress Loop which showcases the posts in chronological order on your front page, archives, search, and categories called multi-post view web pages, and showcases the post alone on single post views.
A Page is generated from the database only when requested. You will only see a list of links to your WordPress Pages in your sidebar or header. After clicking the link, you can only see a Page as a single Page view.
You will not see a chronological listing of all your Pages, as whole content or excerpts. Pages are not featured in your archives, categories, or other multi-post views. Until recently, Pages didn’t even show up in the built-in WordPress search function. There are now WordPress Plugins you can use that will also include Pages in the overall search. Pages do, however, show up in search engine search results, so your Pages are being found.
The only way to “see” if a Page exists on your blog is by using the wp_list_pages() template tag in your WordPress Theme template files which generates a links list of your WordPress blog Pages. All WordPress Themes feature the list pages template tag, usually found in the header or sidebar, and occasionally in the footer.
What Should I Put in a Page
WordPress Pages confuse many because they don’t know what to do with them. By default, many WordPress blogs come with the About Page enabled, but left with place holder information awaiting the user’s input.
The About Page is the most popular Page most people make, a Page that lets people know who you are and why you are blogging, setting a purpose for your blog.
Other Page types include:
Contact: A Contact Page hosts information on how to contact you. It can include a list of other blogs, email addresses, or even an email form for emailing directly to you from your blog. The Contact Form ][ for WordPress 2.0+ by Chip Cuccio, based upon the original by Ryan Duff, is a popular Plugin that allows easy integration of an email form on a Page.
Events and Schedule: If you travel, teach, or present programs, you may want to keep your upcoming schedule on your blog as a promotional device, or at least to help people find you.
Link List/Resources: If you have a technical, tips, or how-to blog, a link list or resource list Page is a good option, providing external related resources to your readers to help them find the information they are seeking. Or it could be a list of your favorite sites. A Link Link or Resource Page is a great way of listing sites you recommend to your readers.
Products/Services/Utilities/Tools: If you offer products or services, then a Page listing your products and services helps your readers learn more about these. If you offer WordPress Themes, Plugins, or any downloadable utilities, tools, or software, consider creating a directory Page that lists all the posts or Pages for these items. The Page can include links to download each item as well as version numbers and summary information. A one-stop Page resource for your readers.
Subscribe/Feeds: Many bloggers put their feed lists or subscription information on a Page, putting all the information on how to keep up-to-date with the blog in one spot.
Site Map: A site map is a table of contents listing of your blog posts, categories, or whatever information you want to use to help people navigate and find information on your blog. A site map should be required on all extensive and complex blogs and websites.
Authors: If your blog features more than one author, you may want one Page showcasing bios and information on all of your blog’s authors, or you might want one Page per author. WordPress automatically creates an author category page view, but you might want a customized author Page.
Credits: Many blogs use content, images, and information from various sources. Giving credit where credit is due should be a high priority for these types of blogs. A Credits Page helps to acknowledge and thank those who help create your blog. On my family history blog, I use a Credit Page to acknowledge the various contributors of content, images, documents, and historical stories and resources my family and others have contributed to the blog. Without their family records, documents, stories, and images, mine would be a boring genealogy blog.
Static Information: There is also a wide range of what I call “static information” that would be good to put on Pages, information necessary to your blog’s content but qualifies to be highlighted separately on a Page. For example, on my family history blog, I have Pages set for specific family trees such as the Nicholas Knapp Descendants from the 1600s. This is static information that needs to be featured in my blog’s sidebar as a Page since it is important to family members and those researching my family trees, working well outside of the chronological blog post information.
WordPress Pages can have subPages, creating a hierarchical Page structure for your blog.
For example, on Taking Your Camera on the Road I have nineteen different Pages. I certainly don’t want all 19 Pages listed in my sidebar. So I’ve grouped related Pages under a parent Page. Under my About Us Page, I have 10 subPages which relate to information about us, the blog, and its policies. The subPages include the Copyright Policy, Legal Policies, Accessibility, List of WordPress Plugins, and Feeds List.
On your WordPress Pages, you may want to feature the subPages for the parent Page you are viewing, especially if you have set your subPages to not show on your sidebar. This way, visitors can find them “under” the appropriate parent Page.
Inside of the Write Page panel editing window, where you want the list of subPages to appear, type in
<!–%subpages%–> after activating the WordPress Plugin. When the Page is generated, all subPages under that Page will be listed. If there aren’t any subPages, the link list will not appear.
In my footer, I want the Copyright Policy and Legal Policies subPages to be visible, but I don’t want all of the Pages and subPages listed, so I manually created a paragraph of links to those Pages in my WordPress Theme footer template file.
Creating a Customized WordPress Page
By hierarchical default, when generating a WordPress Page, WordPress looks for a template file in the WordPress Theme named
page.php. If that is not available, it looks for the
index.php template file and loads the information for that Page from the database into that template file.
There is, however, another method of designating which template file is used to generate the look of a WordPress Page. Unlike with posts, you can choose which template file to use with any specific Page. From the Page > Edit panel, there is a drop down menu that allows you to select from your various template files choices.
In general, a WordPress Page template file can be designed and setup just like any other WordPress template file, but it can use the default
page.php template file name or be a separate file name for different Pages.
The original Default WordPress Theme featured three Page template files. One was the basic
page.php which covered all Pages except those designated for use with the
archives.php Page for displaying your past posts, and the
links.php for displaying your link list from Links Manager, now known as the Blogroll.
You may want a totally different layout or look for your Page featuring biographical information or software or product information. So you can create different template file layouts for
bio.php. Just select the template file from the drop down menu list and you have your unique Page design applied to that specific Page.
Linking to Your WordPress Pages
You can list your WordPress Page links manually, or list subPages from within your parent Pages with the Subpage Listing WordPress Plugin, or you can use a template file you’ve designed especially for your Pages.
The wp_list_pages() WordPress template tag is used to generate a list of your WordPress Pages from within your WordPress Theme template files. Typically, this template file is used to list Pages in your header or sidebar template files.
wp_list_pages() displays all Pages sorted alphabetically by title in ascending order in a list without the open and closing UL tags. The latter is important because you can use the Pages template tag inside of a list of other links, adding to the template tag’s versatility. I’ll cover this more in a moment.
For our experimental list of WordPress Pages, the default Page list would look like:
- Legal Policies
- Link List
- Site Map
We can change the order and specify which Pages to include or exclude. In this example, let’s change the order from alphabetical to Page Order, which is set by the user on each Page’s edit page on the Page > Edit panel, designating in which order the Pages should appear.
<ul> <?php wp_list_pages('sort_column=menu_order'); ?> </ul>
The resulting list might be:
- Site Map
- Legal Policies
- Link List
Excluding Pages and SubPages from Your Page List
You may not want to feature all your Pages on the front page of your blog. Or you might want to list only a few of your Pages on your blog’s footer. To exclude Pages from your Page list, you will need to know the ID number of each of the Pages you wish to exclude and include them in an exclude argument inside of the
wp_list_pages() template tag.
In this example, I’ve decided to exclude the Itinerary and Link List Pages which are Page ID numbers 10 and 17. Listing these Page ID numbers in ascending order, the template tag looks like:
<ul> <?php wp_list_pages('exclude=10,17' ); ?> </ul>
To combine this with the Page Order, the template tag would look like:
<ul> <?php wp_list_pages('sort_column=menu_order&exclude=10,17'); ?> </ul>
The end result would be:
- Site Map
- Legal Policies
You might not want to see the subPages or children Pages on your blog’s front page. To exclude the children or subPages, you would use the
depth argument in the list pages template file. By setting the depth to
-1 no child pages are shown. Setting the depth to
1 shows only the top level pages.
<ul> <?php wp_list_pages('sort_column=menu_order&depth=1'); ?> </ul>
In our example, it would then list the following Pages in the link list:
- Site Map
- Link List
If we were to put all of the three elements together, showing our Page list in menu or Page order, with no child or subPages, and excluding Pages with ID numbers 10 and 17, the code would look like:
<ul> <?php wp_list_pages('sort_column=menu_order&depth=1&exclude=10,17'); ?> </ul>
And the Page list generated would look like:
- Site Map
Including Other Links in Your Page List
On Taking Your Camera on the Road, I call my Page list “Connect the Dots”. The list includes links to non-Page web pages as well as Pages. I wanted a link to the front page called “Home”, helping people navigating through more than 40 categories find their way back to the front page. I also wanted to highlight some specific Pages and categories, while excluding others, especially child/subPages.
Remember earlier when I said it was important that the default function of the Pages template tag did not automatically include the UL tags? This is when that feature really shines.
To include static links, simply start a list of links and then you can add the
wp_list_pages() template tag into the list without breaking the list up into too many nested lists.
Here is my sidebar Page list, which includes the “Connect the Dots” in a list, followed by the nested list of the Page and links list:
<li><?php _e('Connect the Dots'); ?>
<li><a href="/index.php" title="Home Page" accesskey="1">Home</a></li>
<li><a href="/index.php?cat=7" title="Blog" accesskey="a">Blog: Journal Thoughts</a></li>
<?php wp_list_pages('exclude=497, 595, 848&depth=1&use_desc_for_title=0&sort_column=menu_order&title_li='); ?>
<li><a title="Books and book recommendations" href="/index.php?cat=34">Recommended Books</a></li>
<li><a title="Links and Resources" href="/index.php?cat=33">Links</a></li>
<!-- ends pageslist -->
<!-- end startmenu list -->
The end results looks like the graphic here to the right, showcasing the home page link, my site blog, this blog, my genealogy blog, what’s new, and other Pages and categories on my blog. The Page link list now highlights what I want shown, not every Page on my blog.
There are many ways you can sort and control how your Page link list is displayed. On my main blog, I list only the Pages I want manually in a list on my footer, without using the Page list template file. Your Page list can be an unordered list, an ordered or numbered list, a horizontal list, or featured in a drop down menu. The design choices are up to you.
Have some fun and experiment with all the different methods of displaying your WordPress Pages.
- Who The Hell Are You?
- CSS Horizontal menus
- Styling Lists with CSS
- Dynamic Menu Highlighting
- Stepping Into Template Tags
- CSS and Web Page Design List of Resources
- Blogs That Stand Out
- When the Blog Breaks: Fixing Your Broken Blog
- CSS Tabs – The Ultimate Tab Menus
- Navigating Your WordPress Site
- WordPress Design Details
- Creating a Good Blog Archive
- Do You Update Posts or Post Updates?
- Help Visitors Navigate Your Site: Make a Site Index
- Designing Themes for WordPressMU – Fill In All The Details
- WordPress Theme Designers: Slapping You Upside the Head
- How Do You Choose a WordPress Theme?
- Editing the Edit This WordPress Template Tag
- Dissecting the WordPress Post Title Link
- Display Post Excerpts Only in WordPress
- Comment Live Preview Placement
- Problem Solving the WordPress Header
- Creating Multiple Single Posts for Different Categories
- Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog
- Show Just One Category in WordPress Categories
- WordPress Tips and Tricks for Template Files
- The Secret of Successful Editing of WordPress Themes
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