Most of us consider our posts to be the fundamental elements of our blog’s content. In their never-ending path towards our growing archive, they receive the vast majority of our energy, and most of our readers’ attention.
If we think of our posts as a renewable, fresh stream of content, pages, on the other hand, are often treated as no more than stagnant puddles of old information. (Not sure about the difference between pages and posts? Here are some pointers.) In today’s post, we invite you to reconsider the role of pages in your blog. Used well and updated regularly, they can enhance and complement your blog’s main content.
Why use pages?
Pages allow us to keep older, important content visible and accessible. Any information that would be missed if it were pushed farther down your blog might be a better fit for a page than for a post, especially if it isn’t time-sensitive. (If you do need to highlight particular content for a limited period, consider using a sticky post, which remains at the top of your homepage for as long as you need.)
Adding a new page is just as simple as writing a post: from the dashboard, go to Pages –> Add New, and you’ll see the ever-familiar editor.
Pages are a great way to give your visitors general information about you and your site, and to help them navigate through your content. Once in place, they require minimal time investment beyond the occasional brief update. What kinds of pages can you add to your blog? The options are limitless, but let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
Say a reader lands in one of your posts about pasta-making, likes it, but wonders if she should follow your blog. How can she know if the rest of your blog is also about yummy dough, or if this was just a detour from your usual musings on Japanese anime?
An About Page will answer that question. It’s the space where you introduce yourself and your blog to the world, letting everyone know what your blog’s all about, and what kind of content your audience can expect. It can be as short as a sentence or as elaborate as a photo essay, but the idea is the same: it’s your calling-card-cum-display-window, so make it as engaging and appealing as you can.
For some of us, showing our contact info requires very little blog real estate: drop the Contact Info Widget into your sidebar, and you’re good to go.
For many bloggers, though, having a dedicated space where visitors can easily contact us makes sense. For example, if you’ve disabled comments on your posts, but still want to keep a channel open for interaction with your audience. Or if you use your site for your small business and want to make communication streamlined and easy.
A Contact Page is a great idea for those situations where you want to have all the information in one place, without cluttering your posts. Simply create a new page, and type in whatever contact information you wish to include. You can also click the Add Contact Form button in the editor, to allow readers to write you a message without disclosing your email address or any other personal information.
You might be able to save some time creating specific pages by using pre-made Page Templates. Many themes come with a selection of templates, like the Archive Page or Sitemap templates, which you can activate from the Page Attributes module. Note that different themes offer a different mix of page templates.
Suppose you enjoy blogging about your travels, kids, or cooking, but you also use your blog for some other major activity — for example, you’re writing a book, leading tours of haunted houses, or offering your services as a yoga instructor.
Adding a page focusing on that particular niche will let your visitors discover it more quickly and easily, without having to dig for information through a multitude of blog posts. Think of it as a more specific About Page.
You can nest any page you like (or several pages) under the broader umbrella of your About Page, by creating a hierarchy of pages. When adding your new page, go to the Page Attributes module, click on “Parent,” and choose the page with which the new one will be associated.
A great way to make topic-specific content easy to find on your blog is to create an archives page. Some themes can create an archives page for you just by choosing “Archives” from the template menu in the Page Attribute module. But there are other options to aggregate content into a page even if your theme doesn’t include an archives page template.
One easy way to build a targeted-content page is creating a Category Page: as long as you’ve been using categories consistently, it will pull out all relevant posts and drop them into a designated page. Another option is to use the Display Posts Shortcode, which allows you to herd all the posts sharing the same tag(s) or cateogries into one page.
Static Front Page
Have you considered switching the order of things, building a static front page to welcome your visitors, instead of directing them to your latest posts? For some of you, especially those who use their WordPress.com site for their business or other professional activities, this might be an attractive option.
Creating a static front page is quick and easy. First, add two new pages. You can name them “Home” and “Blog,” for example, though any name will do. Then, in your dashboard, go to Settings –> Reading, and select “A static page.” Finally, in the drop-menus, pick “Home” as the front page, and “Blog” as your posts page (or whatever name you’ve given these pages), and you’re done.
With a static front page you decide what content your visitors see first, and achieve a more traditional “website” feel. If you’re still interested in maintaining a blog, have no fear: the blog section of your site, where your posts will be shown, as always, in reverse chronological order, would still be easily accessible from the site’s primary menu.
Pages for the People
Looking for other creative page ideas? Depending on your blog’s focus, some of these might be of interest:
- A “Best of” page: How about choosing your strongest posts and showcasing them in a designated page? This way, new readers can quickly find some of your past standouts, which is especially useful if you’ve been blogging for a while.
- Awards or press page: Have you won any blogging awards? Do you have any media clippings to show off to the world? Build your own virtual trophy case with a page that displays all your accomplishments.
- Disclaimer or policy page: Are you a photographer who wishes to explain your copyright policy in detail, or a blogger who writes about sensitive issues and wants to clarify your comments policy? A dedicated policy page can come handy in making things clear to your visitors.
What pages do you have on your blog? How often do you update them, and what goals do they help you achieve? We’d love to hear your input!