The Vocabulary and Structure of the WordPress Content Management System(CMS)
Our first presentation of the 2017 Austin WordPress Beginner “Back To WordPress Basics” series was devoted to learning the vocabulary and structure of WordPress Content Management System, with a short review of how WordPress works. The goal of this class was to help our community of WordPress Beginners really understand how WordPress CMS handles content and displays it in a web browser. Our discussion about how the WordPress Content Management System functions was a reminder that content is more than text on a screen — WordPress site content also includes images, audio, and video files. During the presentation, we reviewed the Best Practices for developing a content strategy that works for both desktop and mobile.
A Quick Review of Our October 2016, ‘How WordPress Works’ Presentation
The WordPress Content Management System (CMS) is an open-source computer application that supports the creation and modification of digital content in the form of web-based publishing. The main purpose of the WordPress Content Management System is to provide the capability for multiple users with different permission levels to manage a website or a section of the site’s content, without needing to know HTML or other coding languages. Managing content refers to creating, editing, archiving, publishing, collaborating on, reporting, distributing website content, data, and information.
In short, the WordPress CMS gives non-technical users the ability to publish their content on the Web. When a user clicks the PUBLISH BUTTON on the WordPress Dashboard, they aren’t JUST changing the Post to Page content from private to public. That activated PUBLISH BUTTON is transferring that content, which can include images, audio, and video in addition to text, into one or more “boxes” of organizational structure within the WordPress database.
A Review of Some Content Management System Basics
Your WordPress theme retrieves the content from the database and displays it through your browser. A WordPress theme is a collection of templates. Each template contains the programming code to get specific content from the database, An example we are all familiar with is a Blog Archive page that, based on the themes instructions, will display five or more of the most recent posts.
Content vs. Appearance
WordPress separates the site’s content from the database from how it appears based on the theme. The key to understanding how the WordPress CMS works is remembering that WordPress holds ALL Content in the Database, and how that information is presented on the web by the browser is the job of the theme. With WordPress, you can change the Theme without affecting the content.
The WordPress Theme
Benefits of the WordPress CMS
The primary benefits for the WordPress CMS for a new user is quick and easy page management. The CMS ‘Roles & Responsibilities’ function allows any approved user can quickly and easily publish online without complicated software or programming. As we learned when we reviewed how WordPress themes work, your site’s design is separate from content. The WordPress CMS allows you to manipulate content without fear of accidentally changing the design. Another benefit of the WordPress CMS structure is that your WordPress theme’s design templates provide a consistent branding and standard navigation across your websites.
Because the WordPress CMS is database-driven, the user only needs to change data once for it to be updated throughout the WordPress site. Through the WordPress CMS, site managers/owners have access to shared resources, such as modules, images, audio and video files, etc. This feature makes it easy to track content revisions to see who has made changes to page content. The CMS also has archive capabilities and can display a list of historic or related content. The user approval system (roles and Responsibilities) can give different levels of access to different users, and the CMS has mechanisms to ensure content is approved before going live. Additionally, the WordPress CMS helps to scale your site’s content to fit tablets, mobile devices, and smaller browser windows. How the WordPress CMS structures content helps to optimize your website so that search engine users can easily find your information.
Some Content Management System Basics
Understanding the WordPress “Dashboard”
Your WordPress Site’s Dashboard is how you control the Words and Media (Content) that are part of your site. There are Two Parts To WordPress: The Public Part, and The Private Part. This is similar to the public area and back office of any business The front end of the site is what the site visitor sees in their Browser the private part is your Dashboard.
Who Gets To Do What— CMS Roles and Responsibilities
The CMS allows users of various skill levels to be involved in managing a WordPress website. How you use the CMS will depend on your role ContributorsContributors can create, post and update content, including Text and images. Contributors can only add or update their own content, but can’t publish the results. Multiple people in the organization can be designated Contributors, allowing subject matter experts to create and update content in their own areas within the organization.
Editors have the ability to create, post and update content, including text and images. Editors also can approve content to be published on WordPress sites they are assigned to manage. As Editors have the ability and the authority to review and publish content―making it visible to the public―this role should be limited to individual responsible for the site’s content.
Site Administrators are most closely aligned with the traditional role of webmaster. In addition to the ability to create, approve and publish content, they are responsible for the overall design and functionality of the site. Site Administrators can build and integrate modules, modify administrative features, authorize and set up user profiles for Contributors, Editors and peer Site Administrators.
WordPress CMS Structure
WordPress pages are called ‘Static Pages’ but does NOT mean the Page can never change…just that they are less time- dependent than Posts. Pages usually display content that is not likely to have frequent changes to their content, The most common use for Pages on a WordPress site are the Home, About Us, Services pages. These type of pages populate the site navigation (Menu) bar. Pages do not normally allow comments and can be organized in a hierarchical fashion— arranged in order of rank Hierarchical Pages can act as a “Parent” to “Child” pages. If your theme supports drop-down menus then the “Child” page will appear under the “Parent” page in the navigation bar Pages can also be used to present a selected archive collection of blog posts Page Templates apply only to pages to change their look and feel A page template can be applied to a single page, a page section, or a class of page Think of Parent pages and Child pages as a site’s Tables of Contents. Many WordPress sites skip the blogging option and chose to have only static pages.
WordPress was originally created for blogging, the writing and publishing chronological “Posts” Posts are time-sensitive articles normally listed on your Blog page Posts usually appear in reverse chronological order. Sticky Posts – sometimes called Featured Posts — override the reverse chronological order of the blog page and stay at the top of the blog. Posts allow you to close or disable comments on individual posts.
Posts have categories. You setup your post categories in the Posts > Categories menu If you create a post — but don’t assign a category, it automatically gets assigned to the ― “Uncategorized” category Post categories can show up on your sidebar.
Categories tend to be pre-defined and broad ranging Like pages, categories are hierarchical. A post can be added to more than one category. Try to keep categories “big picture” and to not have a category with less than 3 posts in it (unless your blog is brand new of course).
Tags are similar to Categories in that they’re also a “Taxonomy” — a system of classification — a way to group things together (https://codex.wordpress.org/Taxonomies) Tags are non-hierarchical — like posts, there are no parent and child tags, and you can have as many as is appropriate for your subject matter.
WordPress CMS Structure Review
Understanding the difference between Pages and Posts — When you’re writing a regular blog entry, you are writing a “POST.” In the default WordPress set-up, a POST will appear in reverse chronological order on your blog’s home page.
“PAGES” are used outside of the blog chronological structure to organize and manage any content such as “About,” “Contact,” etc., to present information about your site that is applicable to longer periods of time.
Other Ways to Extend Content — Custom Post Types
A Custom Post Type (CPT) can be page-like or post-like in its usage and can be used solely for bundling content in a theme or plugin that is not actually displayed individually on the front-end(public) side of the site. You can use Custom Post Types to separate types of content, such as product listings, real estate listings, movie/music database, testimonials, or portfolio items. Custom Post Type Plugins are another way to extend content. There are several CPT creator/manager Plugins that help you efficiently many-to-many connections between posts, pages, custom post types — A slider plugin may create its own post type; A directory or classifieds plugin will most likely create its own post type, and WordPress themes can include their own custom post types.
Custom Taxonomies are another way to extend content. Taxonomies are a way to group things together and Custom Taxonomies are effective for organizing custom post types, which are a very effective for publishing similar items.
Custom Fields are neither Post Types nor Taxonomies. Custom Fields contain data about a Post, which is why they’re called “post meta” or “metadata” (i.e. data about data). A Custom Field for a WordPress / WooCommerce site post could be a serial number, price, or warranty length. Unlike custom post types and custom taxonomies, WordPress, by default, provides a way to add custom fields and insert values for existing fields.
Widgets appear under the ‘Appearance’ tab in the admin sidebar. The Developer writes the code to create the widget areas so the user can drag and drop widgets.
Dynamically Created Pages
WordPress displays similar posts together in dynamically-generated pages, called Archive Pages or Archive Indexes. Author pages are actually archives just like category and tag archives. Dynamically generating pages with like-kind content is one of the main benefits of using any content management system. WordPress has a lot of ways to display content dynamically. Some WordPress themes have distinct styling for every scenario, like category archives looking substantially different from tag archives, for whatever reason The archive for categories and tags would look the same but display different content.
Looking Under The Hood of a WordPress
What Exactly is a MySQL Database?
MySQL is the database that powers the WordPress CMS. Functionally, a database is a way to organize information so you can find it when you need it. The MySQL database connects related information such as images with captions, Images with their Posts or Pages, related Posts or Pages and people with activities. The MySQL database can gather and parse stored data and format this information into reports. and is the foundation of the WordPress CMS.
I hope these class notes helped. I have included a link to my Slidedeck below. I’m sorry if the transfer from Keynote to PowerPoint format sometimes does odd things to the headers and some images. We look forward to seeing you at an Austin WordPress Meetup soon. Drop by https://www.meetup.com/austinwordpress/ for the class schedule.
Follow me @sandi_batik / @WPATX / Contact me at: handsonwp.com / LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/hsandrachevalierbatik