Making WordPress behave like a conventional web site (instead of a blog)

Although WordPress was created originally as a blogging platform, users quickly discovered it could be used to create and manage conventional, non-blog web sites.

What’s the difference?

A blog is simply a series of chronological posts — think of it as an online Journal or Diary — a list of entries, with latest entry always at the top of the list. You assign tags and categories to your posts, to facilitate searching, sorting and browsing entries on specific keywords or concepts. Because these lists of entries are assembled on the fly in response to user queries, blogs are a type of “dynamic” web application.

A conventional web site, in contrast, is often described as static. The home page, information structure, and navigation are all carefully designed and presented in a fixed format that is the same for all users. Think of a conventional, non-blog web site as something like a brochure or booklet crafted to impart specific information and create a specific impression.

The ACPS Compass, for example, is a WordPress blog. The Tutorial site you’re reading now, on the other hand, is a static WordPress site.

WordPress makes it easy to create either type of site, or to mix the two. So if a blog doesn’t meet your needs effectively, you can force WordPress to behave like a conventional static web site by:

  1. changing your front page to display a static page (rather than blog posts);
  2. creating a custom navigation menu.
  3. adding secondary (or “parent”) pages;

Changing your front page to display a static page

By default, WordPress uses the front page of your site to list your latest blog entries. Changing the front page to a static page is easy. You can even retain a “blog” page in your site, separate from your home page.

  1. First, create two new blank pages: name one “Home,” and the other “Blog” or “Posts.”

    Pages > Add New

  2. From your Dashboard, go to the Settings menu in the left sidebar and select “Reading”

    Settings > Reading

  3. At the top of the “Reading Settings” page, in the section labeled “Front page displays,” click the button for “A static page”

    Set Front Page to "static" and choose pages for Home and Blog

  4. Use the “Front page” drop menu to select the blank page named “Home” that you created in step #1; Use the “Posts page” drop menu to select the blank page named “Posts” that you created in step #1
  5. Save changes

Now you have a static home page, and a separate blog page for posts.  View your site, however, and you will notice that your primary navigation menu still has the default links for “Home” and “Sample Page.”  To add your new Blog page to the navigation toolbar, you’ll need to replace it with a custom navigation menu.

You will also very likely want to add more pages.  If you plan to have more than 3 or 4 pages, then you should take some time to plan your site structure, to organize content into categories and provide navigation menus that help users find what they want.