I was recently trying to put together a website using wordpress and wanted to be able to change the link names using wp_list_pages. I hadn’t realised before that you can’t have a different page heading to your link name, so for example if on my front page I wanted the title to be ‘Welcome to my website” the link in my navigation using wp_list_pages would also say “welcome to my website” when I really just wanted it to say home. I knew I could just hand code it but I wanted my client to be able to easily add pages without messing about, so I searched for a plugin.
After a big search I still hadn’t found one and had little response from the WordPress forum so I tried the forum over at blogging tips where help was much more forthcoming. Sarah from Stuff by Sarah kindly created a plugin called Page Menu Editor which did exactly what I needed and I am sure will be useful to many people. Sarah’s website also has a lot of other plugins and advice which are well worth a look.
I have been intending writing a bit about using WordPress as a CMS for a while now. This post is made up of several parts –
- Website examples of WordPress being used as a CMS
- My endeavours as a beginner to use WordPress as a CMS
- A series of tips for using WordPress as a CMS by graphic and web designer Jennifer Farley from Laughing Lion Design
- A series of links about using WordPress as a content management system and useful WordPress Plugins that I have found when trying to research the subject.
If you are looking to set up your own WordPress website you can download my FREE GUIDE HERE (no sign up or email required)
1. Website examples of word of WordPress being used as a CMS
As many of you probably know as well as being used as a blog WordPress can also be used as a CMS or if you didn’t know here are a few examples of sites that use it. (Found via www.codex.wordpress.org). Click on any example to go to the sites.
2. My endeavours as a beginner to use WordPress as a CMS
I have been experimenting with WordPress as a content management system myself, all be it by adapting an existing template as my coding skills are still not very strong (so please be gentle with me).
My experiments have been on a site I wanted to create for my characters designs The Weather Pops. I was looking to create a simple website fairly quickly as I am attending the brand licensing show in October.
After searching for a suitable theme to start with I settled on the Blixed WordPress Theme for its simplicity and the fact that the pages did not have a side bar, as I only wanted header navigation on my main pages. I tweaked the CSS on the pages so that the width of the content was the same width as the header.
The newer versions of WordPress give you the ability to create a Static home page, ideal if you want to use WordPress as a CMS. You can set this in your admin panel under OPTIONS – READING
What I was really looking for though was something that would allow me to specify both a static front page and a blog page as I wanted my website to function as a website first, with a secondary blog. I found a plugin which allowed me to do this called Filosofo Home-Page Control which allowed me to set both a home page and a “virtual” location for my blog. If you look at www.theweatherpops.com/blog it appears that the blog aspect of the site is in a blog folder, when in fact it isn’t, it is just part of the rest of the site.
The website is very basic but it gave me a taste of what could be done with WordPress.
3. Using WordPress as a CMS by Jennifer Farley from Laughing Lion Design
Jennifer is an experienced web and graphic designer and also a design instructor. Make sure you take a look at her blog for loads of photoshop tutorials. Jennifer’s Laughing Lion Design website also uses WordPress as a CMS
I took my first tentative steps from using Blogger to WordPress (WP) as my blogging platform about 8 or 9 months ago. Initially my plans were to use WP solely for blogging. I had read quite a bit about it and lots of the blogs I was visiting seemed to be using it so I decided to give it a go. Within a very short period of using WP I realised that it offered so much more than just making it easy to publish a blog.
So what else can you do with this baby?
It is possible to use WP as a complete Content Management System (CMS). Not only can you write and edit posts easily, you can also write, edit and add PAGES easily and for me that’s what makes it so great. This means that you can set up the design or look and feel of your site and continue to add as many web pages to your site as you need, when you need them. No more pleading with clients to REALLY think about each section they need before you start designing, if they forget something you can add it in later with little or no problems. Many people believe that they must have the blog posts on the front of their website if using WP but the fact is you can set any static page as your home page and have your blog “inside” the main site.
Another factor which makes WP a joy to work with is the number of superb plugins that are available. WP is an Open Source application which means it has been developed by a community of people who are genuinely interested in creating good quality, FREE applications. Plugins could be considered smaller, “helper” applications that plug in to WP and give extra functionality to your site. To find out more about the type of plugins available check out – www.codex.wordpress.org/plugins
So let’s take a look at a couple of examples of where you could use WP to manage different types of website.
a. News or Magazine Site
WP lends itself very well to this type of site. Feature articles can be kept on the front page with latest news listed chronologically on another part of the page. You could also set up different category pages such as Fashion or Sport. To see a WP theme using this style, check out Gridlock at www.hyalineskies.com
b. Gallery Site
As well as displaying images, gallery sites sometimes allow commenting (no problem for WP) and rating of individual items or lists of top rated items. This sort of application can be put together using WP with the WPG2 plugin – www.wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wpg2/ which allows random, recent, daily, weekly, popular images, and albums to be displayed as image blocks in the WordPress Sidebar.
c. Portfolio Site
Very similar to a gallery site, the portfolio site usually consists of one or more pages of thumbnails which when clicked allow the visitor to see a larger version of the work. You could of course include the WPG2 plugin to allow rating, but if you’d rather just show your work without them, a wonderful plugin that you can use is NextGen. This is a plugin I have used for many of my clients and I cannot tell you what a time saver it is compared to the old method of individually resizing thumbs and then linking them up. Great stuff.
d. E-Commerce Site
These days, it’s very important to be able to add some sort of E-commerce functionality to a site. Everyone has something to sell, don’t they? This type of site is generally made up of product page with descriptions and thumbnails. Also required is integration with some type of payment service. I use Paypal as the payment service for my clients because it really is simple to setup. But what about the E-commerce functionality? How does that tie in with WP? Well needless to say there is a plugin available …
The imaginatively titled “WP E-commerce” plugin is available for download from www.instinct.co.nz It’s one I’ve used on two client sites without too many hassles. The main problem I came across with this was the particular themes I had designed didn’t quite sit right with some of the product pages, but that was my fault rather than the plugin.
So that’s a short round up of just some of the ways you can take your WP blog and turn it into a fully fledged CMS with tons of functionality. You’ll find there are plugins for all kinds of things, the ones I listed above are some that I like and use for my own and my client sites, there are many more out there to play with.
4. A series of links about using WordPress as a content management system and useful WordPress Plugins
Semiologic is a WordPress theme that has been designed so it can be used to build a website rather than just a blog – ie. act as a content management system. I downloaded it put it on a test site to experiment. It basically contains a series of wizards and set up features that you can activate without any coding knowledge. There are a lot of layout variations you can choose from – 1 column, 2 column, 3 column and you can choose the width of your website as well, there are a few skins build in too. What I though looked pretty good was how easily you could duplicate the skin and create/amend it to adapt to your own liking if you had a bit of CSS knowledge. Using widgets you can drag and drop what you have in the sidebar too. (if you choose to have a sidebar)
Five WordPress Enabling Plugins
This article from Blaze Media talks you through 5 WordPress Plugins which make it easier to use WordPress as a Content Management system
Creating Custom Templates for WordPress
Charity at Design adaptations gives a step by step guide to creating template pages in WordPress –
“One of the ways I use WordPress as a CMS is by way of custom templates. The kind of pages which can be added using template files that you define are virtually limitless. Say you want to showcase your Portfolio. You might need a layout vastly different from your default pages.” Charity has several other articles about using WordPress including Configure WordPress as a CMS.
5 Reasons to use WordPress as a CMS
David Peralty at Blogging Pro shares his 5 reasons that WordPress should be used as a CMS.
WordPress Ecommerce Plugin
A plugin from Instinct.co.nz which brings ecommerce to WordPress. (as mentioned above by Jennifer)
How to Install WordPress Locally on Windows
J David Macor gives a step by step guide on how to get WordPress running locally on a PC, ideal if you want to test your WordPress website before releasing it publicly.
How to Install WordPress Locally on a Mac
Michael Doig gives a step by step guide on how to get WordPress running locally on a Mac, again ideal if you want to test your WordPress website before releasing it publicly.
Using WordPress as a CMS
Blog helper has several different articles about using WordPress as a CMS including how to use WordPress to create a portfolio site
The Revolution CMS Theme
Brian Gardner has created a premium WordPress theme called Revolution – a magazine style CMS theme.
Another to Adaptations to WordPress to Use it as a CMS
This article from pqdb.com gives more information about working with categories, adding a FAQ page, a contact form and making sure the whole WordPress website is searchable.
WordPress Sandbox Theme
The Sandbox theme at Plaintxt.org is a very minimalistic theme ready to be styled in any way you wish. If you are looking for a fairly blank canvas to start your WordPress CMS website and know a bit about CSS it could be a place to start.
Customise your WordPress Login
David at David Airey has an article on how to customise your WordPress Login page. This could be useful if you are using WordPress to build a CMS website for one of your clients and want the login page to fit in with their corporate look.
How to hide pages and rearrange your menu in WordPress
Randa at Randa Clay Design discusses how she worked out how to rearrange wordpress navigation and hide elements she did not want to appear.
Using WordPress as a CMS
Char at Essential Keystrokes talks you through how she made a website using WordPress as a Content Management System.
From Weblog to Cms
This article by John McCreesh at Onlamp.com can show you how to create a static home page if you are using an older version of WordPress.
How to Create a WordPress Theme
An article by Jonathan on how to put together a WordPress Theme from scratch.
If any body else knows of any useful articles/plugins for using WordPress as a CMS please let me know and I will add them to the list.
David Airey is celebrating his one year blog anniversary with a bumper giveaway from himself and fellow bloggers including Graphic Design Blog.
A small selection of prizes up for grabs include:
To see the full list of prizes and how to enter see David Airey’s Blog
Brian Gardner, WordPress theme creator has tagged me as well as Randa, Charity, David and Char to start his new meme.
What is something that would surprise people about you and design?
I never really intended becoming a designer, to be honest when I went and did a 2 year General Art and Design course when I was 18 I thought I would be a fine artist. At the end of the 2 years I was quite enjoying illustration but still was not sure whether to go in this direction or fine art. One of my tutors said why not consider graphic design, so after taking a look at the graphic design course that’s what I decided to do. What I found really difficult at first was working with type, I was used to working with images, but typography was something new.
If you could design one blogger’s site for free, who would it be?
To be honest at the moment I don’t think I would dare offer to design another blogger’s site (even for free) because I am still learning CSS and wouldn’t want to make something that didn’t work in all browsers 🙂 . However I have been incredibly inspired by Brian Gardner who revealed that in only a year he learned how to code and design beautiful WordPress templates and am determined that I soon will be more confident.
What blog platform do you prefer, and why?
Definitely WordPress, which I only discovered about 6 months ago. I am amazed at its general ease of use and how search engine friendly it is. I did once try blogger.com which I found quite inflexible. I have also dabbled with Drupal and Joomla, both of which I found incredibly complicated to use.
Aside from your own, what is your favorite blog theme/template?
I really like Grid Focus which I think Johno at Redsil has used to great effect. I also like the incredibly popular Vertigo theme by Brian Gardner and Copyblogger theme, which is nice and simple and I think could be easily adapted to great effect.
Do you have a blog-reading guilty pleasure?
I don’t really have a blog reading guilty pleasure, but every now and again I like to read invention websites and blogs (is that bad?).
I am tagging James Dempsey – Creative Guy, Lauren – Creative Curio, Joe Drinker – Four Bux, Kat – Katize and Nate at Nate Creates
Like many bloggers I try and keep an eye on what is going on by various methods – google news, technorati, digg, del.icio.us etc. A couple of days ago I was doing a bit of research for a design topic I was intending writing a post about and searching for suitable links and information. I used del.icio.us to search for the design subject and in doing so inadvertently came across a fellow bloggers tags for the subject. Knowing that blogger also blogs in a design niche out of curiosity and took a look at their tags. I had never really thought about it before but I saw all the tags they had made in research for a subject that they had very recently blogged about. Now I rarely use del.icio.us for keeping track of my blogging research, purely because I prefer the usability of Google Notebook (recommended by Johno) but it got me thinking –
Would I really want other people knowing what I am going to blog about?
- Would I want other people to use my research to potentially write a blog post before I do?
Maybe I am being a little paranoid, but take the following scenario:
You are researching the area of direct mail design and your del.icio.us tags feature 5 or 6 websites you intend to feature, a blogger who also blogs in the design niche sees your tags and writes an article about direct mail design using many of the sites you have referenced before you have had chance to write a post yourself.
So while I will occasionally use del.icio.us to tag a reference design site I like, I think I will stick with Google Note Book for my blogging reference and research.
What are your thoughts? Do you use del.icio.us to tag websites in your blog research?
Ever wanted to create your own social networking (a la MySpace) site to bring fellow creatives or designers together?
Elgg is an Open Source (free) program to do just that, I have been reading a little about it in .Net Magazine and hope to have a dabble with it when I can. Elgg can be downloaded and run from your own server and then looks like it has a lot of the features of community sites such as MySpace, Facebook etc. I was looking into scripts like this a few months ago but then they were costing a few hundred dollars (and I didn’t know if they worked), but Elgg is free.
Features of Elgg
- Social networking
- File repositories for individuals and communities
- Podcast support
- Full access controls
- Supports tagging
- User profiles
- Full RSS support
- Create communities
Collaborative community blogs
- Create ‘friends’ networks
- Import content
- Publish to blog
OpenID support – coming soon
Elgg requires requires an Apache web server with mod_rewrite installed and the ability to send emails, plus PHP 4.3+ and MySQL 4.1+ (Postgres can also be used).
There are a limited number of themes currently available but these are editable with CSS and I am sure as Elgg grows in popularity the number of themes will increase.
If any one tries it let us know how you get on.