Advise On How to Change the Category Order in WordPress

By default WordPress orders categories alphabetically. For some, this is ideal, as alphabetical order is pretty intuitive for sorting through. But, often, people find it necessary to change the category order in WordPress for easier use. In this article, we are going to cover the basic ways in which to alter category order in WP. Furthermore, we will elaborate a bit about WP categories and tags in general and how to best use them.

How to change the category order in WordPress

The easiest way to alter the category order in WordPress is through plugins. Our recommendation is to use the Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order plugin, as it is the most straightforward one. If you have a different one that you feel more comfortable using, feel free to opt for it. But, for this article, we are going to stick to the aforementioned one.

The plugin installation itself is pretty straightforward. You head on to the link we shared and follow the outlined steps. As always, we do recommend that you make a backup of your website before installing the plugin. While it is a relatively small plugin, it can have unforeseen interactions with other plugins that you are using. Especially if they are related to WordPress core functionality. As it is better to be safe than sorry, make a backup and only then proceed to install.

A girl frustraed while trying to change the category order in WordPress.
Avoid unnecessary frustration, especially when doing something simple like trying to change the category order in WordPress.

After installing the plugin

Once you’ve installed the plugin, you only need to take a few extra steps to put your categories in the desired order. You simply need to head to the WordPress backend -> Post section. There you will find Taxonomy Order. Here you can change the order of categories by using the drag and drop method. Keep in mind though that the categories that are empty will not show. So, if you want to put them in order, you will need to associate certain posts with them. Once you get used to it, you’ll be able to organize and reorganize your categories with relative ease.

A thing to note about categories in WP

While organizing categories can be a great step forward in making your WP website easier to use, there are other practices regarding categories that you should be aware of. Some of these will help your guest writers orient themselves more quickly. While others serve to help your readers navigate your website and find the desired content. When tackled properly, categories go a long way in helping your website feel more intuitive and maintain the reader’s attention, especially when you combine them with good tagging. This increased attention usually translates to increased conversion rates and retention rates, which is something that every website manager strives for. So, all in all, categories are something that is definitely worth investing time and energy into.

Different posts connected with various colored lines.
Categories and tags serve to connect your posts in an intuitive way.

With this in mind, there are certain practices that you should use when tackling categories. While the precise use of categories can differ from site to site, these practices are more open which allows them to cover a wider range of website types. So, whether you run an eCommerce website or an informative blog, try to use the following practices when handling categories.

Map categories while setting up your website

While it is possible to add and remove categories, especially with the plugin we mentioned, you should refrain from doing so. Categories are a vital part of your website and they should be considered while it is in its infancy. The smart thing to do is to create a map of your website by using categories. This will allow you to clearly see what your website will be about and how it will be structured. Ideally, your categories should cover any and all subjects that you or your writers will write about.

A person mapping out a website on a piece of paper.
Taking the time to map out your post is always a good idea.

Once you create your map, make sure to run it by someone who had nothing to do with creating your website (in game design this is called beta testing). Doing so serves to test the intuitiveness of your map and makes sure that it is easy to navigate. If you do need to add a category after a while, it certainly won’t be the end of the world. But, the sooner you set up your categories so that they need no more alterations, the better.

Use subcategories

A common mistake that people make is to list all their categories at the same level. Know that, if you strive for intuitiveness, you need to add subcategories to your website. Doing so provides an easy way to navigate them and gives your posts the necessary structure.

Now, you definitely can go overboard with subcategories. Having too many categories and subcategories is just as bad as having too few. And, unfortunately, we cannot give you a clear number to how many categories your website should have. This is something that is different from website to website and is something that you need to figure out on your own. Our advice is to check out websites similar to the ones you want to make and see how they use categories. An intuitive, well-organized category map is easy to spot, and you shouldn’t shy away from copying it if need be.

Use clear names and capitalize them

When designing your categories it is important to differentiate them from tags. Categories serve to give your posts a structural place within your website, while tags serve to navigate from one to another. With this in mind, it is a standard online practice to use capital letters for categories and lowercase for tags. Doing so helps differentiate between the two, and gives your website the feeling that it is done by someone who understands online practices.

Finally, remember to use clear names for categories. While you can change the category order in WordPress, doing so won’t do much good if the category names are unclear and obscure. The easier it is for a random reader to understand your categories, the better.

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