WordPress has two built-in content types: posts and pages.
At first glance, WordPress posts and pages can look nearly identical, but there are a few major distinctions between these two types of content. It’s the combination of posts and pages that makes WordPress so flexible–and the only platform I use to build websites. Understanding the differences between them and the appropriate uses for each is key to successfully managing your WordPress website.
Posts are the OG of WordPress content types. WordPress was originally made for blogging, and that’s exactly what posts are used for.
A post is an individual blog entry. They are displayed on your website’s blog page in reverse chronological order. Because they’re displayed this way, posts are intended to be timely. Usually, a website’s blog page will show 5-10 of its most recent blog posts. As new posts are published, older posts are pushed off the main blog page (onto page 2, 3, 4, etc.).
Posts are always associated with a date. Posts get archived based on the month and year that they were published. You can use a blog’s archives to see every post that was published in, say, May of 2008. Often, the date is also included in a post’s permalink (URL). WordPress lets you customize the permalink structure on your website, so everyone’s permalinks look a little different, but two common permalinks structures for posts are:
- Organized by year/month/day — www.example.com/2016/2/9/post-name
- Organized by year/month — www.example.com/2016/2/post-name
Posts can be organized by categories and tags. Categories and tags let you group posts by topic, allowing readers to filter posts to see only the posts they’re interested in.
Posts are shareable. They are automatically published to your website’s RSS feed, which lets your readers subscribe to your content (using services like Bloglovin’) and get updates whenever a new post is published. RSS feeds also make it easy to deliver your content through email newsletters. Posts are also ideal for sharing via social media. Lots of blogs include social sharing buttons on their posts so that readers can easily share them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. (You can add this functionality with a plugin.) There are also plugins that will automatically share new posts to your own social profiles.
Posts invite conversation. WordPress has a built-in commenting feature that lets readers comment on your posts.
Key features of posts
- Posts are for timely information
- Posts are displayed in reverse chronological order
- Posts can be organized with categories and tags
- Posts are published in your RSS feed
- Posts are not hierarchical
- Posts allow commenting
- Posts (often) have the date in the URL
Pages are not date-specific. Yes, WordPress saves the date and time that you created a page, but this information doesn’t get posted on your website. Pages do not get archived and they never include the date in the URL. Typically, page URLs will look more like this:
Pages don’t get organized by categories and tags the way that posts do. Instead, pages can be organized in a hierarchy. In WordPress, you can nest pages by defining parent and child pages. This personal injury firm has a parent page titled “Practice Areas,” with child pages titled, “Workplace Injuries,” “Product Liability,” and “Auto and Truck Accidents.”
Pages don’t usually include shareable content, so they do not get sent to your RSS feed. They also don’t (or shouldn’t) have social sharing buttons. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t seen this before, but it just doesn’t make much sense. Are you going to pin my contact page or tweet my about page? Probably not.
For the same reason, pages don’t usually allow commenting. Again, I have seen this before. For some reason WordPress allows you to turn on commenting on your pages, but it’s unconventional.
Key features of pages
- Pages are for timeless information
- Pages cannot be organized with categories and tags
- Pages are not published in your RSS feed
- Pages are hierarchical (you can define parent/child pages)
- Pages are not intended for commenting*
- Pages do not have the date in the URL
*Technically you CAN turn on commenting for pages in WordPress, but it’s unconventional and not a practice I would suggest using.
When to use WordPress posts and pages
Tl;dr? Here’s the abbreviated guide of when to use posts and when to use pages.
Use posts if:
- You’re writing a blog post
- Your content is timely
- Your content is shareable
- Your content is best organized in a category
Use pages if:
- You’re writing an about, services, contact, etc.
- Your content is timeless
- Your content isn’t shareable
- Your content is best organized in your navigation