Help Solve My WordPress Archive Conundrum

During the past few days, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of WordPress plugins that specifically deal with the archiving of posts. Most allow archives to be generated via short code on a page while others are simply widgets with different configuration options. Some of the plugins I tested displayed every post ever published which not only inundated visitors, but was a bad use of resources on the server. I eventually found a plugin that had what I was looking for but since installing it, I’ve been faced with a conundrum.

A Simple Way To Display Archives With Compact Archives Plugin

I initially wanted to create an archive page so that all of our previous content would be easy to find. To me, WPTavern is a continuously updated archive of WordPress information. Making it easy to find all of the previous knowledge that’s been published within the past six years is important, especially since it’s all tied to one specific subject. For displaying the archive, I settled on the Compact Archives plugin by Syed Balkhi and Noumaan Yaqoob. I like this plugin because it provides a few different ways via shortcode to display the entire archive of posts. The display is not pretty and doesn’t include images but then again, the main goal is to make it easy to browse the history of WordPress Tavern.

Compact Archive Plugin On WPTavern

Search Box or Dedicated Archive Page

Once I completed the archive page, I questioned whether or not the work was all for nothing. If you think about it, the search function of WordPress should be able to handle finding previously published content. As long as the search functionality provided relevant results, it would be the only form of archive retrieval needed. I decided to browse around to see how other large WordPress centric sites are archiving their content. Most of them don’t contain a dedicated archive page and handle everything through their search box.

What Would You Do?

So this is the conundrum I’m in, whether to create a dedicated archive page or just have visitors use the search box. I could use both methods but then they become a another page and plugin that needs to be maintained. There are two questions I have. The first is what would you do? The second, how do you archive a WordPress powered site with years of posts?

Would you like to write for WP Tavern? We are always accepting guest posts from the community and are looking for new contributors. Get in touch with us and let's discuss your ideas.


  1. Check yer stats :)

    I had the same question and I decided to look at what, if ANY, archive pages were trafficked and how much. The answer was a surprising number. It was just me.


    1. I bet that’s about the same number of people that browse our archive. A lot of people come from google searches so that in effect is like a powerful search engine for our archive.


  2. In my opinion, date-based archives have little to no value. People need context and a date doesn’t provide any other than to indicate something isn’t current. I’m never going to go to a site and see what they published in August 2012 — why would I?

    A nice tag or category list would be far more useful. Of course, tags and categories can also be overused making them overwhelming. An author-based archive could also be useful if different authors have different areas of focus.


  3. Hello Jeff, Compact Archives is so ugly and plain txt, boring, lack of life, that makes me feel sick. Looks like a component from the 90’s when some weirdoes coded with Word.

    One good solution I’ve found are these two plugins:

    One is the Archives Calendar Widget, which will showcase the post count (and only your posts) in a beautiful, easy to setup, jquery based, yearly calendar, which you can use in a widget or using the shortcode in any page.

    And the other one is the PS Auto Sitemap, which will allow you to build a complete and detailed sitemap, with all your posts and pages, effortless and without hogging your server resources.

    I have these two in my personal website with nearly 500 posts since 2008 and both them work nice and with no problems.

    Just as aside: I bet almost nobody in the world navigate to an archive page. From my own experience: my website receive nearly 250K monthly visits, and only 22 individuals have reviewed the archive page (0,0088%? is the math ok?). I’m considering to erase that page.

    Happy holidays to all of you guys!


    1. lol, you’re not the first person to tell me the Archive page was boring. After talking with a number of people and looking at Google Analytics, I think I’ll ditch the idea of a dedicated archive page and let Google search as well as the search engine on the Tavern website handle the load of pointing people to past content.


  4. If I understand what you mean by “Archive” correctly, I faced a similar problem when setting up my site. I write and publish one new article (on any topic under the sun that tickles my fancy) per night, 24/7, 365. At the moment, total post count is just over 500, but eventually the tally will be much higher than that–and I needed visitors to the site to be able to find pretty much anything I’d ever written, preferably without popping a blood vessel.

    But I couldn’t find a plugin that would even come close to doing what I wanted. There may be one, but I’d never worked with WordPress before, so…what to do?

    In the end, what I did was simply set up a bunch of different topic category pages, calling them Indexes, so that the menu (at the top of the page, under the Featured Image) shows as follows: “…Critter Index…Employment Index…Fiction Index…etc….”

    Some of the Indexes are actually Tables of Contents (or hybrid Index/Table combos), but when those pages are clicked, they start off with a bit of explanation.

    Each new entry (post) is numbered sequentially in alphabetical order. At the end of each listing (post title), the word “LINK” is entered in all caps, bold, and hyperlinked to the post thus described.

    It’s clunky in the sense that each new post, inserted alphabetically in the appropriate Index page, does require me to manually renumber each and every post that comes after a new entry on a given page…but the end result is worth it, a dream to navigate for me and for my readers alike.

    It would be nice to see a plugin developer (which I am most definitely NOT) take my concept and produce a plugin that would do what I’ve done, but with an automatic renumbering feature to eliminate the manual renumbering drudgery. Other than that, it’s all good. In the meantime, I don’t see why a similar system couldn’t be used to Archive the WP Tavern posts: One page each for, “…2013 Archive…2012 Archive…etc….” It could be done without the renumbering hassle I frequently face, too; simply list the oldest post first in each year (with title so someone browsing the Archive would have a clue what each post was about).


    1. Whoa, Lester! You have a big amount of tags, does your plugin list the content live or does it use a cache to avoid overloading the server?

      BTW, your PageNavi plugin is one of the greatest. I dont know how come It wasn’t still embedded to the core of WP ;)


  5. Wouldn’t a good caching solution reduce the server load?

    One nice thing about a comprehensive functional archive is that it makes it easy to show folks how much great content is on the site.

    But really when it comes to locating specific information most folks are going to go for the search box first. Unfortunately the WordPress search function is still so notoriously weak that when I want to find something I kinda-sorta remember from a site I’ll do a Google site: search instead because it usually gets me the content faster than the WP search box.

    Oh, and I really like Lester’s archives. They look great, but I’d be curious to know how much they are used normally.


  6. Thank you for mentioning Compact Archives. I personally think a dedicated archives page is always nice. It can be a place where you can showcase some proud moments from WPTavern’s history. Posts that triggered passionate response from the community, posts that brought some change, all things that make you feel proud as the tavern keeper. I would definitely like to see a timeline of Tavern’s history from Tavern Keeper’s point of view.


  7. Jeffro, thanks for writing about this subject, something I’ve been thinking a lot about in the last few days as I work to redesign my site. I’m glad to hear in the comments that you’ve decided to abandon the idea of an archiver page, I think that’s a good decision.

    I think as writers and the site’s developers, were use our own site much differently than our audience. I’ve had the default calendar widget on my sidebar for years, but I believe that I’m now ready to abandon it, as Google Analytics has proven to me that only I use it. If you design for your audience, you’ll do better at serving their needs. Maybe keep the archive page live, but not linked anywhere, for your own needs.


  8. This is something I’ve battled with this for a decade. There was a beautiful Plugin that did it right years ago. Created a list sortable by author, category, and date, selectable by the user. It was brilliant but lost developement interest.

    I’ve long requested this most basic and standard of functions to be added to core to complement post archive functuions. Hey, I can dream.


  9. I think I’m with Ipstenu on this (Mika Epstein). If your stats show that archives are being used, then maybe they are important. If not, it is not necessarily a reflection on the user interface, it may be that they aren’t important.

    The usefulness of date-based archives is probably inversely proportional to how technical your content topics are. For someone writing about WordPress, SEO, etc. having a date-based archive which allows readers to look 3 or 4 years into the past has very little value (at least to me.)

    Fundamentally, I would say we need to serve two kinds of people: 1) hunters (people who know what they want) and 2) browsers (people who enjoy wandering around and munching on whatever strikes their fancy.) I’m in “hunter” mode about 90+% of the time, and in “browser” mode 10% or less of the time.

    I’m not sure what mode archive pages serve — “historical researcher” mode? I have yet to meet one of those folks — at least in any domain that is evolving as fast as WordPress technology, SEO, etc.


Comments are closed.