Organizing your Site Content and Navigation

Starting to think about your new WordPress Site?  Good!  A little planning pays big returns in usability.

If you haven’t already done so, take a few minutes to consider how you’re going to organize your site content.

Typically, the categories by which you organize content will determine both your navigation scheme and your site structure.  For example, if you want to create multiple pages for each course you teach, then you probably want to organize content around each course.  It would also make sense for each course to be an item in your navigation menu.

You will also want to create top-level page for each course, to list and link to the various pages for that course.  WordPress refers to such hierarchical relationships as Parent pages and Child pages. By creating Parent pages, and associating Child pages with each, you organize your site content and establish a hierarchical structure that helps users find content.

Your navigation toolbar, then, should be customized accordingly, with links for each category of content (or “course,” in our sample scenario).  In WordPress, that means adding Parent pages (one for each category), to your primary navigation toolbar.  You can even organize your navigation menus with Child pages below Parent pages; this automatically creates dynamic drop-menus for each content category — providing one-click access to every page in your site!

This planning of site structure and navigation to assist your visitors is what web professionals call “Information Architecture.”

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Blog vs. Static Site

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.

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