How to Use WordPress Categories Creatively

by Martin Malden

I came across an unusual question this week:  The questioner wanted to know how to assign blog posts to specific pages that would be displaid in the blog menu.

Their blog is a cookery blog and they wanted to be able to write a post that would be (for example) an Italian recipe, and allow searchers to see and navigate to it through a menu item entitled ‘Italian Recipes’.

Here’s the answer I offered:  

As a first guess, based on my understanding from your email, here’s what I’d do:

With some themes (Thesis is one) you can select Categories to include in the Navigation Bar.  I believe that would meet your need.

But if we assume, for the moment, that your theme does not accommodate that, here’s how I would approach it:

I’d create a category called ‘Recipes’ and then make that the parent category for a series of sub-categories, one for each type of recipe: e.g. – Italian Recipes, French Recipes, etc.

Then I’d assign each post to the relevant sub-category – but only that sub-category.  i.e. One sub-category per post.  For the way I use tags and categories see this post.

Then I’d activate the categories widget but I’d give it a different title.  Something like ‘Recipes and Other Things’.  That would cater for posts and categories than are not recipe related.

If you only have recipes on your blog you can just call your Categories widget ‘Recipes’ and there’d be no need for the parent/child hierarchy in your categories.

Then I’d place the Categories widget near the top of your sidebar – in fact at the top would be good.

If you look at my blog I’ve done something similar, except that I haven’t used sub-categories.  I’ve called my Categories widget ‘See Articles On:’  (I gave them a link to my blog here – but that’s a bit superfluous at this point!).

Check in the sidebar next to my picture.

As long as you’ve got your front page set to ‘Latest Posts’ then your most recent post would appear first, followed by the post before that and so on.

That’s one way of doing it.

Another way would be to use a magazine style theme.

These allow you to assign certain categories to appear on the first page and they’ll display your most recent post in each category.

This would give your readers the list of different nationalities for which you have recipes but, in my view, would not be as good as using the categories widget as I’ve described above.

That’s because by using the categories widget your readers could click (for example) on French recipes and see all the French recipes, neatly listed.

As it turned out, using the categories widget and re-naming it solved the problem. One happier camper!

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