Most web developers/designers are extremely familiar with the WordPress blogging platform. It is a highly supported, open source, plugin diverse piece of software, and it would be a shame if we couldn’t easily turn it into a viable CMS for non blogging sites. Luckily we can!
1. Home Page
Obviously in most cases we don’t want our home page to be the latest news/posts, it should be an introduction to the page. Luckily we can use the Static Front Page plugin to fix this slight problem. Static front page is an easy to install plugin, that simply sets a page created with the title “Home” to be displayed first instead of your latest posts. Now you can have your introduction page first, and a separate link to news/updates.
Most of us coders would opt to use the code view than the WYSIWYG function of WordPress. However if you are installing the system as a CMS for clients that are not familiar with HTML, the WordPress WYSIWYG features leave a lot to be desired. There are a few WYSIWYG plugins for WordPress but none of them really had all the features I wanted (such as heading tags) or were a PITB to install. I came across a nice plugin called ChenPress that is packed full of features and tags. It is a bit of a hefty download, but it is worth it.
This way you can style all the text markup so it fit’s the sites design – all your clients have to do is insert headings, pictures, lists, etc…
3. Contact Form
If you are like me, you will do anything to save time and increase productivity (or are lazy, like in my case.) Contact forms are simple to make, but take way too much time. Luckily there is a quick and easy plugin called WP-ContactForm. Upload the plugin, configure the recipient address, and drop in one line of code to any post or page and you are ready to roll! It is pretty basic, so if you want different fields you will have to customize the plugin slightly – but it is pretty straight forward. Those who are used to creating forms will have no problem making these basic alterations.
4. Image Gallery
Who doesn’t want an image gallery of some sort on their site? Portfolio’s, Employee Pages, Member Page’s, etc – everyone tends to want a page that is primarily thumbnails and images. fGallery to the rescue! Quick and easy, and it integrates lightbox with in the plugin itself! Can it get any better? (probably, but let me be excited!)
Finally what is a quality site with out a site map? (and no snickering about my blog’s lack of site map.) WordPress already has a pretty robust search engine by default, but all sites could benefit from an up to date site map for usability and SEO reasons. Sitemaps are a pain to update yourself, and you certainly can’t expect clients to make them. Download and install Sitemap Generator for WordPress it does all the heavy listing for you.
You already know how to use WordPress, it is simple to learn, and it is open source. Why not use it for a CMS? While plenty of people have hacked WordPress to make it a usable CMS, there really is no need to go through that hassle anymore. Simply upload a handful of plugins and you are good to go. Need other features for your WordPress CMS? Check out the endless list of WordPress Plugins , chances are someone has thought of it and developed a plugin already.