Creating Custom Category Pages

Now that you’ve picked a theme, created a custom post type, and added a bit of
sample content, you’re ready to start reengineering your site. Your goal is to remove
the “bloggish” details that don’t really fit, and make your site feel like a fine-tuned
custom creation.
The first challenge is to give your visitors a decent way to browse Distinct Furnishing’s
products. Right now, WordPress sorts the products the same way that it sorts
posts—in reverse-chronological order, based on the date you published the post.
While that makes sense for a blog, a news website, and many other types of sites, it
isn’t terribly useful in a product catalog. Visitors who arrive at Distinct Furnishings
probably won’t want to see every item crowded into a somewhat disordered single
page of tiles . Instead, they’ll want to focus on the type of furniture they
need—like a sofa, chair, or table.

This is clearly a job for the WordPress category system. As you already know, you can
browse posts by category by putting the category name in the web address, like this:
http://distinctfurnishings.net/sofas
Of course, you won’t expect your visitors to type this address on their own. Instead,
you’ll supply the links in a post or page, in the Categories widget, or in a menu. Menus
are the most common way that visitors navigate sites.

The menu approach is probably the best browsing experience you can create without
editing your theme. However, it’s not perfect. It has several shortcomings:

• You can’t display different categories of products in different ways. For example,
you might want the sofa-browsing page to look different from the
tables-browsing page.

• You can’t display additional information about a category.

• You can’t control the order of products within a category—WordPress still puts
them in reverse-chronological order by publication date.

However, you can control all these options by customizing the category page template
(also known as a category archive page), which creates the page . For example, when you visit a web address like http://distinctfurnishings.net/
sofas, the category page grabs the products in the Sofas category and displays them.
The stock category page does a decent enough job, but you can do better by editing
your theme.

Creating Custom Category Pages