WordPress Basics – Site Organization

Even before you start adding content to your WordPress blog, you need to sit down and think about exactly what you want to communicate to the world and how your reader will be able to find what they are looking for on your site. WordPress has several built in features to help you keep your content organized. They are Posts, Pages, Categories, Tags, and Menus. Let’s talk about each of these in basic form to help you wrap your mind around how you can best present the content on your theme.

Posts & Pages

Most people use WordPress because they want to be able to constantly add new material to the web in the form of posts or articles, but they also like to have some static information included on their site as well. The first thing you need to decide on is what content of your site do you want to be static (in the form of a page) and what content you want to be dynamic (updated on a regular basis with new content). This will be determined by whether you are using WordPress as more of a website feel or a standard blog feel. Remember that pages do not have the date listed and are not associated with categories or tags, while posts have the dynamic element of the date, category, tag, post author, featured images, etc. One thing to remember about static pages. They should be something necessary to your site, in an easy to find place that will help our reader learn more about you, your site, or the services you provide.

Categories & Tags
Once you’ve decided on which pages you want to be static and created those, you will have to determine how you want to organize your posts. This is done through post categories and tags. It’s a good idea to go ahead and create categories and subcategories before posting as it will be much easier to keep things organized right from the start. Think of Categories like file folders for your blog, and think of Tags as post-it-notes within the files of those folders. The Categories make it easy for people to find all of the posts relating to a specific topic on your site. You can narrow their search further by making subcategories. So, for example, if your site is about crafts. You could have a Category of Gift Cards, and a Sub Category of Christmas Cards. If you think of your Categories as file folders, it will help you not to have too many, too few, or vague titles. Just think about how hard it is to find the right document in a filing cabinet if you have a ton of folders that have unrelated names or content that doesn’t match the title. Also remember, that just like a filing cabinet, you need to add every post to a category that it belongs to when posting. If you have too many categories to choose from, it will be easy to miss the appropriate category, and again, your readers will suffer from your disorganization.

You can add as many tags as desired, as these are more helpful for SEO. Still make sure that your tags clearly apply to the content of your posts. This is another way that your readers can find more content about the subject they are looking for, so make it nice for them.

Categories can be added within the Categories Panel found under the Posts Tab in your WordPress Dashboard. There you can easily add and organize all of your categories and subcategories. When you write a new post, all of your categories will appear with a check box beside them on the right hand side of the page. Just select each category that your posts fits into. You can create a new category right there as well if you are starting a new topic or forgot to add it.

Tags can be added in the exact same way by either clicking on the Post Tags option under the Posts Tab or by adding them when you write a new post. When adding a post, you can select the link to “Choose from the most used tags” so you don’t forget which tags have already been used in other posts. This really helps with consistency. You will notice that the more posts that you write, the larger certain tags appear within those tag options. The larger tags are those that you have used the most often, while smaller tags have been selected the least.

Once you have all of your categories and tags established, and you’ve also got some static pages created; you’ll then want to have them listed appropriately in menus so your information can be found easily. You’ll definitely want to make use of the Menu’s Panel located under Appearance on your Dashboard.

Within the WordPress Menu Panel, you’ll want to first create a main menu. I’d recommend having separate menus for your main pages and your categories. In other words, make it easy for people to find the static information about you and your site as well as the posts they are looking for regarding a particular topic.

  • Give your menu a name.
  • Select the desired pages, categories, or create custom links from the left hand side of the page.
  • Drag and drop your menu items into the order that you’d like them to appear. If you have a horizontal menu on your site, the top menu items in your custom menu will be first in order with the bottom menu items last (depending upon how you have your alignment set up, it’s usually starting from the left and going to the right as first to last.)
  • Now, you can also choose which items you want to be subpages, or subitems by placing them directly under the main menu item you’d like them display under than dragging them slightly to the right. You can subitems underneath subitems, but dragging those items even further to the right.
  • Once you have your menu as desired, click save, and then make sure to add it to your Primary Menu in the top left hand side and click save there as well.
  • You can create as many menus as you like, and either display them through use of the Custom Menu Widget, through a secondary widget area if your theme supports it, or to a Vertical Menu Widget if you are using an Artisteer generated theme. Note: If you are using an Artisteer generated theme, you’ll want to always select the Vertical Menu Widget for additional Widget menus rather than the Custom Menu Widget in order to keep all of your styling the same.

For more advanced users, see my post on how to create a styled Secondary Menu holder from an Artisteer 3 generated template.

I hope that has helped to give you a basic understanding of where to start when beginning a site or blog. Once you’ve got the ideas of your site organized, than you can begin adding content. We’ll talk about that in the next post.

© 2011, reflectingthedesigner.com. All rights reserved.

March 23rd, 2011 at 2:38 am

Hi, I read your really good tutorial on how to setup pages. I was wondering how to EXACTLY setup the vertical menu navigation with the widgets? – I am in widgets , drag the “vertical menu” widget. I select one of the custom menues (created via Ctrl panel – appearance -menu, and adding the name of the Menu and what will it contain (subpages) from the pages category. Say: Services (main menu) contains “burgers”, “pizza” pages as sub pages. Once I install this in WP I don´t see the vertical menu item. I´ve read you can only have either one vertical and one horizontal. But even If I pickup one of either I still don´t get SUBITEM displayed pages on “vertical menu”. Please help.

March 23rd, 2011 at 2:47 am

Hello Pierre,

First of all, I think it was a typo where I said you could only use one or the other. You can use both the vertical and horizontal simultaneously, or one or the other depending upon how you created your design in Artisteer. One thing to be sure of when in the Widgets panel is that you are not selecting “custom menu” from your widget options, but you are selecting the “Vertical Menu” widget to use for this. Also, subitems will only appear after you click on the main category or menu item. An easy addition of code to make these appear on hover can be found on the following Artisteer forum thread.

August 24th, 2011 at 4:32 am

Hi Sarah, thanks for this post. First time I have visited your blog and I like your work. Nice designs and good advice. I’m setting up a web directory using WordPress and finding the issue of too many categories a bit of a challenge. At the moment I’m using a generic theme (Clearline), but have downloaded the trial version of Artisteer, which I will buy as soon as I can and start making my own themes. It is a fun program to use and I can’t wait to get my own themes together. You’ve obviously got great skills and I hope someday to have even a fraction of your ability. Anyway, thanks again for the useful post and good luck with all your future work.

August 24th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Thanks for the kind remarks Michael. It’s easy to get into too many categories quickly. It’s just like having to many file folders and having a hard time figuring out where you actually put things. Creating subcategories is helpful for that. Best of luck.

December 9th, 2011 at 4:11 pm


Your menu tutorial is stratightforward enough, as is your more advanced horizontal menu tutorial. My question is this:

I have created my theme in Artisteer and deployed on WordPress 3.3. Within this theme I would like 3 menus: 2 Horizontal and 1 Vertical. Further compounding this, I would like menu 1 to have dependent items in menu 2, which then have further dependent items in menu 3.

So if Landmarks were set, one would then in menu 2 get a choice of available landmarks to research, and then upon selecting that choice, in the vertical menu everything about that unique landmark would be displayed.


How would I go about doing something like this?

Thank you

December 9th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

You certainly could do this. You’ll need to wrap some conditional code around your menu code you insert into the header. So, you’ll need an “if/then” statement such as if is a certain page or category then this menu should display, and if is another page, category, (whatever your parameters are) than this should menu should display. The vertical menu is a widget found on your widgets page. You can simply use a plugin such as Widget Logic which adds a field to insert conditional code within every widget space. This will allow you to again choose which page, category, user, etc. that the widget will appear in.

I did a basic post on incorporating conditional code that you can use for a quick reference. That post relates to adding conditional code based on user role, but the same principle applies and it should get you started in the right direction.

Hope that helps.

January 13th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I want to create online news paper .But how can i organize my all news ?And then it will easily found in archive section .

January 15th, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If I’m understanding your question right, it’s just a job of organizing your content within suitable categories and subcategories. You’d then want to create a nice menu that lists the categories out with the subcategories beneath each for easy access to information.

August 17th, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I had a developer set up my first site and wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted. Now that I have used WP for awhile, I have fooled myself into believing I know what I am doing. Installed a new theme and the drama begins. When I use Chrome, I get a bar across the top of my screen with my site name and some other info. I did not put it there and cannot determine what did. when using IE 9, there is nothing visible to me or anyone that would them to login, register, etc. My old site theme had all of this. So the first thing I am trying to determine is what the page is…I sense it may be FRONT PAGE but I can’t find it anywhere in the dashboard. It actually displays some of the info I want it to but I cannot edit it. I created a couple of other pages to see if it would help me determine what was what but no luck there. I never had a problem editing my content or adding widgets on the old theme but this one has me lost.

Bottom line the new theme evidently picked the content of my (main/front) from the old theme but I cannot get any login or register content on it because I cannot identify it to add or edit. Any suggestions besides give up…. LOL

August 26th, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Are you referring to your WordPress Admin bar at the top? That is displayed when you are logged into your site. If it’s not that, I would really have no way to know without a link or more details.

September 18th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Thank you for your article. Very helpful. I was wondering if you could help me out with something. I wanted to organize my blog for it to be by published date order, not the most recently posted post being the first one showing up. Is that possible? I am using the latest version of wordpress 3.4.2.


October 9th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

In your Dashboard, look under Settings/Reading and you can make changes there as desired.

February 8th, 2013 at 5:14 am

Thanks for the article. very useful one.


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