Taking Your Category Landing Pages to the Next Level
WordPress’ archive pages have always been functional on the most basic level, presenting published content categorically and chronologically. We’ve always used these pages in conjunction with a well-structured recipe index to help users find exactly what they are looking for.
Nowadays, bloggers are taking advantage of the potential of category archive pages, turning them into mini-hubs, or landing pages, targeting a specific topic. This type of enhanced category landing page presents your best content first, offering the reader a taste of what they can expect to find by browsing further.
We have a few different ways to expand on the default archive pages, offering more options for you to highlight specific content and take advantage of the valuable SEO real estate these pages offer.
By default, we build out category archive pages pretty simply, with a title (which defaults to the name of the Category), description, subcategories (if there are any) and then a list of all posts in that category chronologically with the newest first.
Enhanced Custom Fields
Using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, we can add a few extra fields to further customize and feature specific content on your category pages.
Custom H1 Text
By default, the name of the category serves as the H1 or Title tag for a category landing page. For SEO-reasons, you may want something more keyword rich in this space (for example, “Healthy Breakfast Recipes” instead of just “Breakfast”). But changing the name of the category itself isn’t practical (since the category name also shows up in places like the breadcrumb and recipe index).
Instead, we can add a custom field for the landing page’s H1 tag, where you can enter something other than the default category name to show as the main title on the page. This field is always optional, if it’s blank it will simply show the name of the category by default.
While category pages have thumbnails for every post within them, you may want a larger featured image that represents the category as a whole (something that can also show in search results).
Posts on a category page are typically organized chronologically (with the newest first). If you want to highlight some older, more popular content front and center, we can add a space for category-specific Featured Posts, much like can choose featured posts to show on your homepage. So whether you want to show popular breakfast recipes, or the highest rated recipes, you can pick and choose a handful of posts to display at the top of the category page.
This section allows you to highlight a featured video on the category page (either a Youtube/Vimeo video or a video from your ad network). Can be just a plain video or include a caption/link as well.
Examples: Little Spice Jar, Baby Foode (note while these two examples were built using custom fields, they do have other sections as well; similar pages can also be built with the Block-based landing pages for more flexibility and expansion possibilities, so if you want something similar to these I’d probably push you towards the Block-based functionality.)
Block-Based Landing Pages
The newest trend for food blogs is to create dynamic, multi-sectional landing pages with more than just the most recent posts in a category, including featured posts, videos, visual links to subcategories, opt-ins, search fields and more. Essentially, you’re creating a series of mini-homepages for each main category or section on a site.
We worked with a developer to build out a Block-based landing page system that allows you to use custom Blocks to build content-rich category landing pages to help your users better browse your content. The recent posts are still there, just at the bottom of a more dynamic page.
The custom block-based landing page setup we have developed is fairly complex to design and configure. To determine the exact cost, you’ll need to decide exactly which Blocks you need. The more different types of blocks, the more costly the implementation as each different kind of block needs to be designed and configured separately. Multiple instances of the same type of block (for example, a Featured Posts block) does not increase the cost.
Block-based Landing Pages will have the same Block options as you do within a post to set background colors and so forth, so you can shade blocks with alternating background colors for better visual separation if you’d like (for more info on custom block styling please read our article Making the Most of Gutenberg Blocks).
If you opt for this functionality, we can also build your Recipe Index as a Landing Page, allowing you to use the same blocks there to add sections of featured content in addition to your recipe categories. This works with everything but the Filter-Style recipe index (we’d put the filters on a separate page if you want those too).
Types of Custom Blocks
Simple text blocks and other default Gutenberg blocks (like Paragraph, Image, or Video blocks) can be used on Landing pages too, but we’ve built a set of flexible custom Block types that will allow you to easily select posts, categories, videos without having to deal with excessive formatting. Additional types of blocks are possible as well, just let us know what you have in mind!
This type of block allows you to select a set of featured posts to display under a customizable heading. The Featured Posts block has an option to change the number of columns (see the video below showing a Featured Posts Block being added to a Landing Page) as well as optionally adding a description or ‘more’ button. If you use WPRM or Tasty we can also give you an option to show recipe ratings as well.
This same block can also be expanded to include different styles or formats, such as a basic grid (1 row of equally sized posts) and a mixed grid (1 big post on the left and 4 smaller ones on the right), or maybe a style with numbers to display popular posts. Extra styles beyond the defaults will increase the price.
A set of linked images with titles, often used to link to top categories or landing pages. You’ll be able to manually choose an image, set title text and the URL for the link. Like the Featured Posts block, you can also choose the number of columns.
Similar to the Image Blocks, but usually with smaller (sometimes round) photos or illustrated icons that link to popular categories. Like the Image Blocks, you’ll be able to manually choose an image, set title text and the URL for the link. This type of block sometimes includes a search field and/or a link to the recipe index page too.
On Landing pages, Image Blocks and Category Icon blocks are great for highlighting select subcategories!
If you don’t want a Category Icons block (or don’t want a search field within the Category Icons block), we can add a separate Block for a nice big search field, maybe with a button or link to the main recipe index or a recipe filter page.
Call to Action/Big Feature
A single larger image alongside a short blurb (title, text, button), similar to the default “Media & Text” block. This can be used to feature a variety of different things, from a big featured post to an ‘about me’ section to a call to purchase a product.
Whether you have a form for readers to subscribe to your newsletter, or want to direct them to a landing page to claim a free ebook, an opt-in section will let you direct readers to meet your specific goals. We generally include an email opt-in on the homepage, site footer, and site sidebar, but having a block that can be used in the middle of landing pages is also an option.
WordPress’ native Video block is a very easy option to add a video to a Landing page, but if you want something more robust, such as an embedded video from YouTube or your ad network alongside a short caption and ‘get the recipe’ link, we have a Block built for exactly that!
The above Blocks are designed for use on recipe index and category landing pages (although some, like the Featured Posts block, can be used within posts as well). For more info about customized Blocks and block styles for use within posts, see this post for more information and Block examples!
Which Option is Right for Me?
I know this is all a little overwhelming, and you’re probably wondering which kind of category landing page functionality you need. Hopefully this will help break it down a little bit more so you can better express what you’re wanting in your Quote Request form, and also to give you an idea of what you’re looking at in terms of cost.
At their most basic, category archive pages include support for a Title (the name of the category), text description area (optional), subcategories (where applicable), followed by chronological posts with thumbnails (newest first).
- Title/Category Name
- Chronological Posts
Additional Cost: $0
TLDR; This option is best for those just starting out with not much content, or for those who are wanting to keep the cost down and only need the basic category functionality for now (we can always expand on it later!)
Enhanced Custom Fields
The simplest way to add some featured content to your category archive pages is by adding custom fields to the Category edit page which you can populate for any/all categories as needed. Cost is determined by which fields/sections you need. All fields are optional (just leave the field blank if you don’t want it), but the layout is fixed and will be the same on all category archive pages.
- Custom H1 Title
- Featured Image
- Featured Posts
- Featured Video
Additional Cost: $150-$800
TLDR; This option is best for those who want to add a little bit of extra oomph to their category pages, but do not want to deal with the hassle of arranging/formatting/adding lots of different Blocks. This method provides you with a few simple fields which you can populate, and they’ll automatically output on your category pages with the appropriate formatting.
(For the above options, the homepage will be built using custom Widgets).
Flexible Block-based Landing Pages
In contrast to the custom field method where the quantity, order and style of the featured content is fixed, the Block-based method is much more flexible and expandable, meaning you can essentially have as many blocks, in any order, on any category that you want.
The same custom blocks can also be potentially used to build out other landing pages, such as a dynamic Recipe Index, About Me, or Start Here page (additional costs apply).
In order to determine the actual cost for this add-on, we’ll need to nail down exactly what kinds of blocks you need (see more about each block type above).
- Featured Posts
- Image Blocks
- Category Icons
- Big Feature
- Featured Video
- Email Optin
Using multiple instances of the same type of block (two blocks of Featured Posts, for instance), will not increase the cost. But multiple different types of blocks will add additional cost (since each different kind of block needs to be built out individually), as well as alternate styles/formats if that’s something you want or need.
Additional Cost: $1,500+
TLDR; If you want robust, content-rich Category pages with the flexibility to add lots of different sections and move them around as you see fit, the Block-based Landing Page functionality is for you!
Blocks vs Widgets
We’ve traditionally made use of WordPress’ Classic Widgets functionality to build out dynamic and flexible homepages that allow you to easily edit and customize the content that is shown there. We use a combination of Advanced Custom Fields and a plugin called ACF Widgets that allows us to build custom widgets unique to each site’s needs. These widgets make it extremely easy for you to edit your homepage sections, to feature different posts seasonally and whatnot.
With the release of WordPress 5.8 in 2021, Classic Widgets were replaced with new Block Widgets, which brings the Gutenberg Block editor and Block types to the widget area. We still find this new widget area rather clunky, and thus opt to use Classic Widgets in most cases (the Classic Widget functionality can be restored by installed the Classic Widgets plugin).
If you decide that you want the Block-based Landing Page functionality described in this post, we will use the same Block functionality on the homepage in lieu of the Classic Widgets. Ultimately the functionality and final appearance will be the same, the main difference is the appearance and functionality of the Widgets interface.
From a visual perspective, a Homepage built using Widgets vs Blocks can look exactly the same on the front end. The main difference will be found on the Category Landing pages, where the flexibility/scalability of the Block-based functionality really comes into play.
If you’re just wanting to display a single set of featured posts on your category pages, using a simple Custom Field is a much quicker and more cost-effective way to go. Likewise, if you just want some featured post sections on your recipe index page, that can be more easily achieved using widgets. In either case we’ll also build out your home and recipe index pages using Classic Widgets.
But if you want to trick out your category landing pages and have the flexibility to add lots of different sections and move them around as you see fit, the Block-based Landing Page functionality was made for you! In this case we’ll build your homepage (and recipe index page if applicable) using Blocks as well.
The same concepts can also be applied to the Recipe Index page, either with a Block-based content area or a Classic Widget area that mimics the sections of the homepage. Read more about the different kinds of recipe indexes here.
If you opt for the enhanced Block-based Landing Page functionality, we can also build your Recipe Index as a Landing Page, allowing you to use the same blocks there to add sections of featured content in addition to your recipe categories. This works with everything but the Filter-Style recipe index (we’d put the filters on a separate page if you want those too).
If you are an existing Purr client and want to add some enhancements to your category pages, we can definitely help you out! Adding custom fields is easy, if you want to add a section of featured posts for example. The cost will be similar to what is outlined above depending on how many fields/sections you need.
If you want to upgrade an existing Purr site to utilize the new Block-based Landing Pages, we’d also convert your existing widgets and homepage sections (which were likely built using Classic widgets) to Block widgets as well. Ultimately, everything that was a Widget or a Custom Field will now be a Block, and all custom Blocks will be available for you to use on the homepage, recipe index page, and category landing pages (and to a more limited extent, other posts and pages). This conversion is fairly time consuming (since we have to convert your homepage as well as add the new landing page functionality and Blocks). Cost will run around $1,500-$2,000 depending on how many blocks are needed. Get in touch with us to get started!