There are some specific differences between pages and posts, which we will visit shortly, but here is the conceptual difference.
Note: There is also a video further down this posts that you can watch as well.
These are your static pages. Those that don’t change unless they are edited. Examples of your pages would be: About, Services, Contact, etc.
Posts typically appear in a blog. They are written on a regular schedule and one of their key purposes is to keep your site fresh with new content. Posts can also be post types. For example, if you are running an event plugin, the event pages you create are post types and therefore are technically considered posts.
The other thing to remember about posts, is that it’s not just all about blogging. Any kind of fresh content will work however you decide to deliver it. More on this at the end of the post.
But remember, there are ways to use the blogging function without having a blog. Check out this post titled Do You Need a Blog for more insight.
Posts vs. Pages
If you look at creating a page or post side-by-side, you will notice some differences that I have highlighted. Note that your site may have additional fields added due to plugins or the theme you are using. This is showing you only what comes with WordPress itself. (Page on left, post on right.)
Page Attribute Options on Pages
When it comes to layout, this is the only visible difference and option you have with pages. As you can see with the default WordPress theme, I have two options.
Parent – This is where you can set pages as a child page of another page, which basically means a sub-page. You will only see the effect of this option when viewing all pages in your dashboard. It will not affect the navigation as you need to set that up in your Appearance > Menus.
Order – This is how you can order your pages. Again, this has no effect on your navigation menus. Like the Parent option, you will only see this on your All Pages dashboard view. By default, on that page they are listed in alphabetical order. You can, of course, list them in any order you would like.
But if I had another theme activated, I might also find Template.
Most themes have two basic templates: Archive and Blog. You might choose the blog template if you want an inside page to be your blog posts, rather than your homepage. For example, if you want the page to be the blog, you simply add a title, assign it to the blog template and that’s it. Blog posts will feed into that page as a list that you will send on the frontend of your site.
You may see more templates as in this example there is a landing page. A landing page template would likely remove the header and the navigation to create a simple landing page. Or you might find one called portfolio, or a number of other types of templates. I would recommend reading the themes documentation, then testing and viewing the templates available with your theme.
There are a few options that are specifically for posts only.
Categories and Tags
Posts will use categories and tags, but pages don’t. There are plugins that do allow you to use categories with pages, but likely you will just need them for your posts.
If you are not clear on the function of categories and tags, think of it this way. A category is a chapter in a book. Tags are the index. There are tons of ways to use both to organize your content that I am not going to touch on in this post. But to be blunt, categories are one of the most powerful features in WordPress.
The excerpt option lets you create a brief description of your post. It can be very useful. How it displays will depend on your theme.
Here is an example that might help. Often you will find on your blog archive page that the full post isn’t listed. It might instead be a photo, the title and a short blurb that encourages people to click through to read the rest of the post. This is much better for your readers because they scan blog posts on your archive page without scrolling.
By default, most themes will pull in the first few lines of the post. But if you add an excerpt, it often replaces those first few lines. Readers like it because it gives them a short synopsis of your post’s topic.
Other ways are that your theme might have widgets or features that pull in the choice of part of your content or the excerpt to display. Genesis child theme featured post widget is a good example of this if you have ever used one of them.
Leveraging the Power of Categories on Your Blog (and Even Your Website)
Back to categories. So why do we use categories, then? To make it easy to organize our posts for our readers.
They can quickly and simply click on a category and find all the posts you have assigned to it, so they don’t have to hunt all over to find the content they are most interested in. Categories can be found in the navigation bar, in the sidebar or even scattered in posts.
As I mentioned, often themes are built on widgets. For example if you look at a typical magazine style theme, you will see the home page filled with boxes. Each of those boxes is generally a widgetized area that pulls in content assigned to a specific category. It’s a great way of continually changing content on the home page.
Categories are a great way to organize your blog content. But the real beauty of it is that, as a blogger, you can take this same simple system and apply it to your website to make it more user-friendly for your site’s visitors.
And if you don’t have a blog yet, playing around with categories and tags in a static website setting will put you one step ahead when you do take the plunge into the blogging waters.
Four Simple Ways of Using Categories
Power up your posts by using categories for organizing:
Even if you don’t have a blog, you can create articles, white papers, etc on your site and organize and present them in a way that makes it easy for your readers to find what they are looking for.
2. Events, workshops or classes.
Here on this site you will see examples of this. Again, a great way to separate and classify your different events and workshops.
Not only will you find this an exceptional way to organize recipes, but you can also use tags for specific ingredients or regional cooking.
This one is endless. Think of it. Restaurants, parks, technology, books, music, etc.
Categories will help you organize the fresh content on your site that pops pop regularly.
Of course this is only touches a bit of how you can use categories. But the fact that they are so useful, and play into the differences between posts and pages, might give you a good idea of how to utilize the power of a blog on your WordPress site.
What About That Featured Image?
People ask this a lot. Simply because it doesn’t always show on the page. The short answer, it depends on your theme.
For example, some themes will automatically add the feature image:
- Inside of the post
- In a special header on the post page
Other times, you will use widgets to pull in the featured posts on your archive page. Some themes have it built in and some allow you to toggle it off and on and control the site of the feature image.
The best advice I can give is to test it out and see how your theme uses it.
Learn More About the WordPress Basics
Over the years, we have taught thousands of users the basics. As we evolved over time, many of these posts became outdated. But thanks to our good friend Shawn over at WP101, he has an excellent series of video tutorials on the basics plus some excellent videos on Jetpack, Yoast SEO and many others. All at a very affordable price here.
And here are a few videos to give you a taste of what you will get.
What is WordPress?
The WordPress Dashboard
WordPress Posts vs. WordPress Pages
WordPress.org or WordPress.com
The WordPress Block Editor
What is Gutenberg?