"Pages vs Posts" is really "Taxonomy vs Heirarchy"
Posted on Sep 19, 2013 by Rob Schwartz Latest activity: Jan 7, 2014
So I've been digging deep into this whole issue and trying to understand things... Thought I'd share what I've learned.
In wordpress, there's really no difference between posts and pages on the technical level. As a matter of fact, Posts, Pages, Menus, Attachments/media, and your revisions/drafts of pages and posts are all the same as far as wordpress is concerned... just info put into a box.
In all actuality, everything is a post. The new additions we have in wordpress today (menus, attachments, pages, etc..) are all just built in CPT's (Custom Post Types).
The missions we create with the Game On plugin are also custom post types that the plugin makes.
The only real difference between post types is how they are displayed and used.
Heirarchy- Why I used to use pages:
I used to use pages and preferred pages because it was familiar. It was linear. I could direct the kids in an order, things were always found the exact same way. It gave me control and the familiar analogy of pages and a book worked for me (Wordpress pages use heirarchy to create "chapters" and sections in the book). This was familiar- especially coming from a traditional website- and it made sense.
The files on our computers are the exact same way... in folders on the hard drive.
However, I found an article from the creators of wordpress that explained that pages (heirarchical post types) are not the best thing to use because of what wordpress must do- Every time you load the admin area of your site, wordpress has to load and figure out the entire heirarchy to display it all to you. (Because the pages can be easily reordered and arranged under each other, wordpress puts things in order again every time you load the dashboard). Apparently, this will become a problem when you start getting into a lot of pages.
Taxonomy- Why I'm moving to posts:
On researching this all more- I'm discovering that posts use a taxonomy (which was the strength of my former CMS, Drupal), which is MUCH more powerful. This is true especially when you want the user to freely navigate your information in the way THEY want to, versus the way YOU think they will or should. It presents the content with MANY ways to get to each piece, versus just one. It's a much more user-centric and content-centric way of doing things rather than a presentation centric way. The content is not organized in a specific heirarchy that the content creator (site designer) decides, but is presented in a way that the user needs/wants.
The Downside of Heirarchy:
The difference is much like the difference between a grocery store and a restaurant. In the grocery store, I will always find the peas and the milk and the chicken the same way... by TYPE of food, based on the "Aisle" heirarchy... The AISLE is never what I want... but it's what the whole system is based around. In the restauraunt, I order what I want... and they bring it all to me. I ask for and recieve exactly what I want without having to run around for all the different elements. It's customized for me... what I want at that particular time.
Another example... At Home Depot, I always find screws on the same aisle, and sinks in the same place, and lumber in the same area. It's a heirarchy based on type of material. I can easily find everything I want, but I never get everything I need at the same place... I have to run around to all those different areas to grab what I need. It's the only way to do it because Home Depot doesn't know what I need, and they have a lot of stuff. So they organize it by the stuff, not the needs.
Heirarchy works for organizing things by the kinds of things there are... but NOT by how anyone would use them.
The Beauty of Taxonomy:
HOWEVER... what if I want to create an outside wooden bench with a sink myself? I could go to a specialty store for "outdoor patios and kitches." THEN I'd get everything I needed organized in a way that I would want for that particular job. That's taxonomy... a predefined taxononomy search... a "Specialty store."
With taxonomy, I enter search terms, and it REORGANIZES the whole site so "outdoor garden sink" is it's own section that has the proper screws, sinks, materials, and lumber all in one place! I might even bump into things I hadn't thought of and improve my idea or figure out a better way to build it with tools or materials I didn't even know about. So the pressure treated lumber I find in that area is perfect for outdoor sinks, and the screws are the proper rust-free type, and the sinks and fixtures are the ones that will withstand being outside.
So taxonomy gives you a hundred ways to find something... I think of http://www.unprofound.com/ when I think about this.. It's another free image site on the internet, but the ONLY ONE I've ever found that organizes the image content by color. DUH! What a great way to organize a site of images!!!
Our Uses of Data
We often need images that work with our design. So if I need a car, I can search for car- but then I can SORT or even SEARCH by the color red as well! I can find red 2 door convertibles that have been in an accident easily on the internet... but how the heck would I find an image of one in the library or newspaper? Web searches are strictly based on taxonomy and tags, not structure... doesn't matter where the site is because the search will make me one click away from every item... even if one is on the same server as me, and the next is 500 servers away.
Pages are great for static sites and content that you want to be found and is easily categorizable and everyone will find them the same way. GREAT for classes that are forcing kids into a specific path...You have to learn about computers before you learn to program. Gotta learn basic math before calculus. Gotta learn to draw with crayons before you learn vectors. Gotta learn to type before you can format that type...
But in our classes- I might have a tutorial lesson plan on creating a logo in Illustrator for a letterhead for a nursery... With pages I can only put it in one place, probably based on just one of those parameters- maybe through Illustrator, to business design, then logos. I'd also have to move to letterhead as a separate thing to think about how letterhead design might require special considerations for my design...
However- with taxonomy, I enter my terms and the project comes up. It's findable from at least 3 or 4 paths vs one. AND as an added bonus, I often stumble into other things that interest me on the way.
Don't we want that for our students?
Consider taxonomies with your student web site! It's MUCH more flexible than the old school "pages" way of doing things!!!
PS- One last thing to consider. Databases always store information in the order it was received. So technically, your "Heirarchical" pages in your CMS are stored chronologically anyway... they're just displayed to you in heirarchy whenever they're requested. You can create a "fake" heirarchy of posts by using categories or arranging the content into menus.... But using posts with categories and keywords allows the content to be found any way you wish because they can have MORE THAN ONE category and keyword at a time- rather than just one heirarchical location!!!