Powerful Data Structuring in WordPress Website
Bruce Newburger, Dynamics Online's President
The design benefits of WordPress are well known:
off-the-shelf design templates (themes), blogging, easy page
building and content editing that's as simple as editing
your Facebook profile. But a very powerful and mostly
unknown data structuring tool lurks just beneath the
surface, and unleashing its power can be the key to
effective structuring of a WordPress website.
This tool is custom post types (CPT).
What is a Custom Post Type?
CPT is an abstraction of the familiar structure behind
blogging. A blog is a series of posts that include a title,
publication date, and article content. Posts are also
assigned to an author and one or more categories and tags
that further describe the blog post, like how adjectives
color a noun.
If you generalize the blog post concept, consider that a
"post" can simply be any data record with fields that match
whatever real-world component you want your website to
represent. If your business is a medical group and you want
your website to list doctors' bios, then you can define a
custom post type called Doctor, and then define custom
fields for "date joined the practice," "medical school
attended," and "biography." Think of these elements as part
of the noun—they are parts of the "thing" that make it what
The next step is to better describe your custom posts
with categorization that can also apply to other posts.
Using the doctor example, categories can include Medical
Specialty or Offices Staffed. Each category set, called a
taxonomy in WordPress, can then be applied to other posts in
the same type. In other words, you can apply the specialty
of Pediatrics to three of the eight doctors in the practice.
A post can be categorized with more than one value, for
example, if one doctor has multiple specialties and works in
two or three different office locations. You can see now
that such a structure would easily support a website feature
that would allow a site visitor to narrow down the available
doctors to those who practice pediatrics in the nearest
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