The WP_Query is one of the most powerful tools in your hands when building a WordPress website. The easiest way to describe what is WP_Query to a complete beginner is that it allows you to do practically anything you want with WordPress content – in terms of fetching the exact post or page that you want to display. However, you first have to master how WP_Query works.

It also essentially gives web developers 👨‍💻 the power to access everything on the website. The WP_Query lets you display sneak peeks of your latest blog posts, configure how many posts are shown, set up a slider-style portfolio website, showcase random quotes, and much more.

Understanding WP_Query

We’ve given examples of what WP_Query can do. However, we still haven’t really answered the question of what is WP_Query?

It is a PHP class used in WordPress. PHP is a popular open-source scripting language that runs WordPress under the hood. WP_Query is generally used for making custom and direct queries to the WordPress database.

WP_Query allows developers to construct complex searches without the need to write separate SQL (Structured Query Language) queries. It’s basically a shortcut for a lot of customized queries, particularly for WordPress Loop.

Many developers use the WP_Query class to customize plugins and themes and to configure how posts are displayed on the website, as well as the general appearance of the webpages.

How to use WP_Query

Using the WP_Query requires its basic syntax to call on the query and invoke a new class instance.

new WP_Query();

In order to manipulate any result or data pulled up using the WP_Query, you need to assign it to a variable first. If you want to use the syntax to customize something related to posts, you use:

$posts = new WP_Query();

Additionally, you need to provide arguments to the WP_Query class in order to pull content from the WordPress database. Wrapping the parameters inside arrays makes it possible to assign multiple arguments to a WP_Query to further refine the search.

All these are used when customizing the WordPress Loop. A basic loop structure generally looks like this:

<?php
if ( have_posts() ) :
while ( have_posts() ) : the_post();
// Display post content
endwhile;
endif;
?>

Meanwhile, a custom Loop using the WP_Query class would look like this:

<?php
$args = array(
    'category_name' => 'news',
    'posts_per_page' => 3
);
$my_query = new WP_Query( $args );
if ( $my_query->have_posts() ) {
    while ( $my_query->have_posts() ) {
        $my_query->the_post();
    }
}
wp_reset_postdata();
?>

Custom Loops using the WP_Query can be used to display only specific posts based on certain WordPress taxonomy, category, date, tags, and other parameters.

WP_Query examples

Even when armed only with a basic understanding of WP_Query, there is already a lot that you can do to customize the appearance of a website. Below are some popular examples of how WP_Query can be used.

Latest published posts

The WP_Query can be used to recommend or showcase only the latest content. This way, site visitors can quickly see any time-sensitive posts and curate their reading experience on the website. This will require setting the parameters based on the article or post date.

<?php  
   $args = array(
      "date_query" => array(
         array(
           "year" => date( "Y" ),
           "week" => date( "W" ),
         )
      )
   );
   $posts = new WP_Query($args);
?>

The query can also be used to promote trending posts or those with high engagement. To do this, the argument setup will need to look at the count or number of comments.

<?php
   $args = array(
     "category_name" => "something",
     "orderby" => "comment_count"
   );
   $posts = new WP_Query($args);
?>

Conclusion 🧐

The answer to the question of what is WP_Query is simple – it is one of the best ways to fetch your site’s content in a custom manner.

WP_Query makes it possible to create new experiences for site visitors, as well as curate their experiences according to their preferences. It is an effective and efficient way to construct custom and highly refined searches.

More importantly, WP_Query allows you to build on and improve WordPress themes. Instead of the themes looking exactly like how others use them, WP_Query lets you customize them according to your needs and content.

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