Blog Tip: Adding Pages to Enhance your Blog – Part 2


In Blog Tip: Adding Pages to Enhance your Blog – Part 1 I talked about adding pages like “About Me” or “Our Location” (or whatever you want) to your blog. Now let’s look at adding sub-pages and a few widgets to enhance your WordPress.org (self-hosted wordpress) blog.

But before that, Christopher was kind enough to leave a comment on Part 1 explaining how to simulate multiple link list widgets in WordPress. I knew that there was only 1 link list widget (blogroll) in wordpress, but what I didn’t know was that if you give the links you add different categories, it will break the list down by that category so it functions as different groups of links. You can see this in action on this blog. I have a list of links called Blogroll and another list of links called Life. You cannot separate the lists, they appear one after the other, but you can get different groups of links. So if you were a company, you could have one group called “Our Locations” and another called “Our Distributors” (as examples). The heading of each group is based on the name you used for the category.

As Chris points out: Just go to the blogroll in the admin and select categories. Add a category for whatever topic you want like ‘books’ and add the new links to that category. They will show up as their own list. These instructions are actually for a wordpress.com hosted wordpress blog, but it is very similar if you have a self-hosted wordpress.org blog. Go to Admin—>Blogroll and add or edit a link. When you are on the page to set up the link, pick (or add) the category for the link from the list at the right and when you save it, it will show up with that category as the name of the list it is under. You can also do this if you have a wordpress.com blog, but only if you have already added the category previously. If not, you have to add the category through admin—>Blogroll—>Categories first. I don’t know why wordpress.com makes you do that extra step, but it does.

Anyway… On to sub-pages!

A sub-page is a page that has another page as its parent other than the main page. This is used to relate a set of pages to a particular page other than your main blog. As an example, you can see how I have set up an “Our Travel” page that appears in the list at the top of my blog. All pages that are sub-pages of other pages do not appear in the main heading of the blog. That lets my “Our Travel” be a completely different section of my blog and is similar to a website. In fact, this lets you almost use your blog as a website with more information than just your blog. You can keep lots more on your blog than just posts.

In Google Blogger, you cannot create pages, so obviously, you can’t create sub-pages either. But there are still things you can do to simulate sub-pages and/or use your blog for more than just a blog. One thing you can do is to create a back-dated post (see Part 1) as say, your “Locations” page that you put in your “Pages” link list in your sidebar. Then you can create several more posts with your different locations and then add links in the text of that post to each of your locations posts. You can get an idea of that by looking at my “Our Travel” page. I have added links on it to my sub-pages for 1996 and 1997. And on my 1996 sub-page, I added links to additional sub-pages for each of our travels in 1996. You can do the same thing in Blogger, by just substituting back-dated posts for sub-pages.

Another thing you could do is create a link list called “Locations” and then add links to each of the back-dated posts you have created for each location. Then you could add another link list for say, “Distributors” and add links to a post about each distributor (or a link to their site). Anyway, you get the idea. Pretty much the only thing you don’t get is the list of pages across the top of your blog like you do in WordPress.

On to WordPress: In WordPress, you can create actual sub-pages that are attached to a page and that won’t show up in the tabs across the top of your blog (only pages that have the main page as a parent show up on the top). What this means is that you have to have a “Pages” widget in your sidebar in order to access these sub-pages (unless you link to them from within the text of your page, which I have also done in my Our Travels pages).

In most WordPress themes (both wordpress.com and self-hosted wordpress), in the pages widget, it will show all your pages, with the sub-pages indented below each page they belong to. Unfortunately, this particular theme Prosumer 1.4 that I am using does not do that. All pages show at the same level in my Pages list. That really isn’t very nice and it is much nicer when they are appropriately indented. Hopefully they will fix it at some point. If you go to my All Things Web 2.0 wordpress.com blog, you can see how it looks indented. And here is a clip of the Pages sidebar widget from my wordpress.com blog.

subpages-list.png

Doesn’t that look a lot nicer than the one in this theme? I do like this theme though so I put up with some idiosyncrasies.

And for self-hosted WordPress blogs, there are several plugins that you can use in place of your standard “Pages” widget. It is a little tricky to install a plugin on your self-hosted blog because you have to get the widget files from their site and then upload it to your own site where your blog is. If you aren’t familiar or comfortable with doing that, you can just use the regular “Pages” widget.

My favorite is the Flexi Pages widget by Srini G. It has several option for displaying that the regular Pages widget doesn’t have.

flexipages.png

You can name the list whatever you want. And have a lot of different sort options such as by Page Title, Menu Order, Date Created, etc. You can also pick certain pages that you don’t want to show up in the list. You can have an entry on your page list to the home page (main blog) and call it whatever you like. The rest is pretty self-explanatory (except that the theme I’m using doesn’t indent the pages regardless of whether or not it is chosen).

The custom depth level means how many sub-pages of sub-pages down you want to show. Blank means all of them. You can see that I have entered -3. That is a little trick that is not really explained or mentioned that I found buried in the widget information. You can see how it works by clicking on my Flexipage widget to go to other pages. Here is what it does (from the info):

“Have the child pages, parent pages, sibling pages and top level pages displayed on a page while still leaving out the siblings of parent pages. This is not possible with older versions. Version 1.2 doesn’t include this as an ‘option’ though. You have to specify the ‘Custom depth’ as -3 to achieve this.”

Another Pages widget is the MultiPages Widget by Jerome LeCoq. It is more difficult to use because you have to know the ID of each page (which you can find by going to Admin–>Manage–>Pages and the ID is the number on the left of the title. It doesn’t really give you any extras over the flexipage widget either, except that you can have up to 9 of the multipage widgets. So unless you need more than 1 page list, the FlexiPage widget is the best and easiest of these two. Here is what the setup looks like for the MultiPage plugin:

multipages-1.png

And if you look at the very bottom of the Admin–>Presentation–>Widgets page, that is where you choose how many instances of the widget you want. NOTE: This is also where you choose how many of various other widgets you want also. I always forget where it is when I need to increase the number of a widget, like if I need more text widgets.

multipages-2.png

You can see how these different widgets/plugins work by looking at my left sidebar of my blog.

So try out some pages and increase the power of your blog!

~Susan Mellott

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