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There are many plugins available that allow WordPress users to add customized lists of posts in WordPress, however its really easy to do this with a few simple lines of code. Doing this eliminates the excessive use of WordPress plugins.

Some WordPress plugins I belive are essential, for example Akismet, but some plugins you can really do without. It is good practise to de-activate un-used plugins and delete their files on your server and their entries in your DB.

If a plugin only consists of a few lines of code, then you can do without it, saving you unnecessary script and css file includes.

A simple example is customizing and adding additional lists of posts in your blog, this can be done using the built in WordPress function get_posts:

[php]<?php get_posts( $args ); ?>[/php]

This function allows you to create multiple loops separate from the main Loop and pass a variety of paremters to the funcion, allwoing you to a highly customizable post list.

Display Random Posts

To display a list of random posts on your WordPress blog we can use the get_posts function like so:

[php] <ul>
<?php
$args = array( ‘numberposts’ => 5, ‘orderby’ => ‘rand’, ‘post_status’ => ‘publish’, ‘offset’ => 1);
$rand_posts = get_posts( $args );
foreach( $rand_posts as $post ) : ?>
<li><h2><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2><p><?php the_excerpt(); ?>
</p></li>
<?php endforeach; ?>
</ul>[/php]

Parameters In Use

Lets take a look at what parameters we have passed to get_posts, controlling what is displayed is vital, you do not want readers seeing un-published posts, or posts already displayed on the index page.

‘numberposts’ => 5

This limits the amount of posts that will be displayed.

‘orderby’ => ‘rand’

The most important part of displaying a set of random posts, using the MySQL RAND() function will produce a random generated list of posts.

‘post_status’ => ‘publish’

To ensure that posts that are either draft, deleted or pending review from being displayed it is good practise to specify that only posts that are published be displayed!

‘offset’ => 1

I added this parameter to offset the first post from being included in the list.

Using this method you be able to display a random list of WordPress posts without the use of a plugin, just like the right hand list on the DW index page.

Posted by David Martin

David Martin is a WordPress developer & entrepreneur from the UK. He owns DesignWoop, CardDsgn and WhoDesignToday. Catch up with David on Twitter.