WordPress is seemingly simple but can become quite complex too. There are lots of ways in doing the same thing. When setting up a site, I try to stick to my own guidelines so that my structures stay as clean as possible.
Pages vs posts vs categories
3 main concepts in WordPress and I keep strict in their usage …
When to use a page?
A page is a static loner like a Homepage and Contact page. It might show some collections of smaller pieces of content, like the brands in a brand collection or the team members of a team but it’s not the real parent of that collection.
When to use a post?
When the content is part of a collection, like some info about a brand that belongs to a collection of brands.
When to use a category?
When the content is a collection of smaller pieces of content, like the brand collection with its different brands (posts). I never create custom post types, my categories make my posts custom.
Nothing surprising here but I do miss some basic features in WordPress to make all this (the use of categories mainly) fully SEO friendly and to have full design freedom.
Content should have a logical URL that reflects the structure of the site, content should have a (short and long) title, a short (alt) and large description and a thumbnail.
What to configure?
Set a custom structure like /%category%/%postname%/ as permalink structure.
What to fix?
A post has an excerpt field and a page does not by default. I enable the excerpt field on pages as described in this post of wpbeginner.
Posts have all necessary SEO fields.
A category doesn’t have an excerpt field like a post/page and doesn’t have a featured image. I use ACF to add the excerpt and featured image. ACF is a plugin with authority so a lot of other plugins and tools integrate well. And ACF serves well to add even more specific fields to specific categories. A lot of themes offer custom taxonomies but I think it just clutters your site and makes it overly complicated. Just create different categories, that’s way simpler and more powerful if there is some kind of relationship between these taxonomies. The things I miss though is a hiërarchical/tree view of the categories admin page and the possibility to exclude posts from child categories in a lot of plugins. (To fix the strange behaviour of the Categories tree in the post edit screen, I use the Category Checklist Tree plugin.)
How to fully control the looks of these types of content?
Pages and posts
At first some kind of page builder was a must, now that’s not really necessary anymore with the Gutenberg block editor.
When I first started using WP, I chose a theme of course. To create the static pages with a little more freedom, I tested some page builders … But besides the freedom to create the individual pages, I also wanted more freedom over the creation of the content collections, the categories and that’s where I stumbled upon CVP. Great plugin … so freedom (meaning no coding) over the looks of the static pages and category pages … I was still not satisfied because the theme decides what pieces of content are shown where and of course there is always something you want slightly different … finally, I got it all with Beaver Themer (and so I also stick with the Beaver Page Builder and Beaver Theme).
My thoughts on all this …
It’s not straightforward to create custom category pages. A while ago I created a page for every category. It makes creating these pages easier but it has a downside … you need to redirect the categories to their corresponding page and a redirect isn’t great for SEO. (I did it by stripping the category base with the Yoast or Bavoko plugin.) You need to keep the meta data in sync and it creates duplicate content.
When a piece of content starts as post but evolves into a category, there’s some work to do.
What if some ‘piece of content’ would have all necessary SEO fields by default, would have the same Gutenberg editor to alter it’s content and would be able to have children and multiple parents? It would be a post, page and category at the same time! It would make WP a lot simpler!