WordPress I used originally only only as a blogging tool, but I learned that it was indeed quite a powerful content management system (CMS). This especially became true in version 2.0+ as additions were made that made it more conducive to the average user (such as integrating TinyMCE).
The following steps are the introductory steps I use in setting up websites using WordPress. In fact, for me web design is no longer done apart from WordPress; for me WordPress = Web Design. I am assuming a general knowledge of installing WordPress, but if you need help in this you can consult the Codex.
Choosing A Theme
One of the strengths of WordPress is its development community. There is almost no shortage of resources to utilize in designing your website around WordPress. A well chosen theme is instrumental in how your application will not only look but function. I suggest the following tips when selecting a theme for a website that uses WordPress as a CMS.
- Choose a theme that looks less stereotypically “blog like” such as Kubrick.
- For the sake of the designer, choose a theme that uses widgets for easy updates.
- Choose a theme that has clear, not ambiguous, navigation.
- I suggest themes that have a fixed width, but I realize this is personal preference.
- Less is more in a theme; that is why Almost Spring is a better choice than Kiwi.
Here are a few plugins I’ve found absolutely necessary when designing a website with WordPress.
- Search Pages
- Google Sitemap
- WP-Contact Form
- FAlbum (if using a photo gallery)
- Sidebar Widgets
The great thing about the WordPress community is that if there is something your client wants done there is probably a WordPress plugin to help you do it!
Setting Up the Site
There are a few steps I go through when setting up my site with WordPress as a CMS. I first make sure that the splash page contains only one post. While you can create a static front page in WordPress, I just use one post so it is more easily editable. I then put all my actual content in pages.
I usually don’t use the link part of WordPress for my own blogs, but I use it on my sites because then my clients can easily update, delete, and categorize links. If you do this, I also suggest using the My Link Order plugin.
Next, be sure to set up Permalinks which give the impression of directories. Your client will be happier with domain/about/ then domain/?page_id=12. And lastly be sure to create your customer accounts with “Editor” privileges so they don’t break everything!
Here are sites that I have used WordPress as a content management system (*working).
And…? Did you forget to write about how you actually DO set it up as a CMS? ;-)
@Oyvind: What did I forget?
@Oyvind too: “I then put all my actual content in pages”
That’s the key to WordPress as a CMS.
Nice concise article Chris
This is a great resource. I’ve thought about using WordPress as a CMS before, but in my mind there were always a couple loose ends as to specific action steps and mods.
This is a great guide. It really helped me visualize how the process would work. thanks!