When To Use Custom Post Types In WordPress

Am I Going To Use Custom Post Types?

This is a question you might be asking yourself. I don’t blame you. Custom Post Types are hard to wrap your brain around. In fact, WordPress already contains a couple of post types that you use all the time. These are pages and posts.

Have you every wondered what is the difference between a page and a post? Well, pages allow you to enter free-formatted content such as text, images and video, and also to provide a title and a parent page if required. Whereas a post allows for the same content and title, but adds in publication dates, categories and tags. Ie. the posts are a post type that allows for (optional) date-stamping and taxonomisation (systematic classification).

These are the two main pre-defined post types that come with WordPress. Custom Post Types are just post types that you build for yourself – hence “custom”.

Custom Post Types Examples

Here’s an example. Your WordPress site might not only contain ordinary posts and pages. Your blog might also also contain one or more of the following as well

  • recipes
  • events
  • book reviews
  • product reviews
  • services
  • team members
  • trip reports
  • house listings
  • business listings

or any other kind of information that might have certain expected, fixed characteristics, or end up being categorised very differently to everyday blog posts.

For example a blog post comprises a title, and the content. And if your blog is about your European travel experiences, you might have a blog with categories such as

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • France
  • Portugal
  • Germany
  • Swizterland
  • Ireland

But maybe your angle on European travel is that you concentrate on experience and learning rather than which hotel you stayed in or which restaurant you ate at. So you wrtite blog posts about who you met and how you felt and what ytou saw. You then categorise these into countries. All sounds fair enough right? So if you suddenly went to say, Scotland, you’d simply add a new category and put your Scottish blog posts in there. Nothing is sticking out as awkward, it all works.

But now you’ve become interested in reading a novel set in the country you are in, while traveling in that country. And further you have an idea to write a book review about each book, informed by your experiences in that same country. How does that sit in the system of categories you have already set up. It kind of doesn’t. You’d have to create more categories called Spain Book Reviews, France Book Reviews and so on.

Whereas a book review would have a pre-determined list of items such as a

  • book review title
  • book title
  • author
  • book publication year
  • short summary of the story,
  • your review
  • photo of the book cover
  • genre of book
  • location, country where set

and so on. A book review, due to its rigid structure (so many must-haves to complete it), and in this case, lack of good fit within existing category system, would be an ideal candidate for a custom post type.