WordPress began as a simple blogging platform, but over time it has exploded into a powerful content management system that is responsible for a large chunk of websites existing today. Part of the reason for this success is because WordPress implemented custom post types (CPT), allowing developers to create more complex websites while maintaining organization and easy to navigate structures. This makes data entry easier for editors and web administrators.

So what exactly are custom post types?

WordPress uses post types to divide different types of content. For instance, every WordPress site usually has a standard blog called “Posts” which is a post type, along with “Pages” and “Attachments” and a few others. For a site that has more content and needs more complex structures, you can create custom post types (CPT). 

To put it simply, custom post types are just like regular post types, only with a different value set in the database which you can customize to your specifications. 

To create a CPT as a developer, you could go the more complex coding route (there are many tutorials online) and make changes in the file structure and database, or with plugins like CPT UI, they can be made quick and easy with no in-depth coding required. Once a CPT is added, it creates a new item on the back-end menu, with the name, icon, and even the menu position you created for it.

Custom Post Types as they appear in the back end menu.
An “Awards” CPT as it appears in the back-end on a site.

Why are CPTs useful and how do we use them?

CPTs are useful for organizing and categorizing repetitive content. For example, if you had a site that recommends books, movies, and tv shows – each of these categories could be a new custom post type. You could also use custom post types to categorize anything else such as team members, products/services, partners, or case studies, and implement these post types in a variety of ways. 

Depending on the needs of your site, you can create a custom template to change the look and feel of your CPTs. Each CPT could potentially have a completely different look and function on the front-end of your site. 

By default your CPT, could be accessed by going to a url like: websitename.com/cpt-name where it will display an archive of all your custom post content, just like a regular blog post archive. Alternatively, you could customize that archive template to function the way you need it to, or implement CPTs on different sections of your site. For example, on your “About Us” page, you could have a carousel that displays the content from a Partners CPT (such as logo, name, website link)

Awards CPT
“Awards” CPT as it appears in the front-end.

Custom Post Type organization with taxonomies.

Just like regular posts, within these custom post types, you can also create custom taxonomies. By default, WordPress has two taxonomies: “Categories” and “Tags”. These taxonomies make it easier to connect related content within your posts using common groups, making organization for your users (and yourself) easier. 

Your “Books” CPT could have taxonomies like “Genre” or “Author”. Alternatively, if you created a more general CPT like “Products”, you could categorize it by adding taxonomies like “Product type”, “Brand”, or “Uses”. 

Within each of those taxonomies, you can separate content into groups called “Terms” (think of them like sub-categories, within the taxonomy category). Using our “Book” CPT example, under the “Genre” taxonomy, you can have the terms like “Horror”, “Sci-fi”, “Biography”,”History” etc, and select which category each of your books falls into. In this case, you could use this categorization to create an incredibly user-friendly navigation system on the front end of your site. If your user wants to find all the horror sci-fi books, created by *insert-author-name-here*, they could easily narrow things down and find what they’re looking for.

You can create as many taxonomies as you feel your CPT needs. A single content post could use many taxonomies relating to many terms, therefore, making your organization and possible search function much more advanced.

On a more complex custom site, you could also extend the functionality of a taxonomy by creating a taxonomy specific template. For example, books under the “Biography” category, might need a section on its page that recommends movies based on the biography, whereas a “Self Help” category probably wouldn’t need that function.


In conclusion, custom post types and taxonomies can be as simple or complicated as you need them to be. Creating and utilizing Custom Post Types and taxonomies can help organize and bring your website to an advanced level and are necessary for content-heavy and complex sites. This was a short introduction into custom post types and what you can do with them, but the possibilities are endless.

Does your website need CPT? At GMD, we have a skilled team of specialists that can help your website structure become more efficient and easy to manage. Click here to get in touch with one of our experts when you’re ready to get more done.