Over the past several years WordPress became a hugely popular engine for making blogs and variants of blogs. As more people came to appreciate the ease of use and number of features available to them in WordPress an equal number wanted to use WordPress to manage all of their web content. While WP might not be up to every web publishing task that you can think of, it is an extremely capable CMS (Content Management System) when some of its less widely known features are enabled. Static content is handled magnificently through the ‘Pages’ feature that is built in and there a number of other steps you might take if you wanted to manage a lot of content involving a lot of users. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the features built into WordPress that are useful for this purpose and some plugins that add features equally useful for this pursuit.
1. Page order control. Did you know that you can control the order of pages directly in WordPress. Look in the administration dashboard under Options and then reading. You can set the front page of your URL to be whatever html or php file you’d like and have it managed by WordPress. You can use this in conjunction with the static Pages function in WP to produce an entirely static site if you’d like. You can style an entire site by working from your own starting page and controlling the flow of links from one page to another.
2. Pages are the static pieces in the WP puzzle and they can be used to great advantage when employed WordPress as a management system for static content. One of the great advantages of using WordPress is that you can also use your theme on any of the pages you’d like by putting the templating system built into the system. The really powerful part about managing things with this method is that you can pick and choose the parts of a normal WP page that you would like included and customize the display of every page. Templating is not a simple task to wrap your head around at first but, lucky for us, there is a copious amount of WordPress documentation about the use of templates to get you pointed in the right direction.
3. Roles can delegate control. If you’ve ever looked at the different types of user accounts in the Users area of the administration interface then just consider content management and the ability to work on documents collaboratively by creatively using the various roles available for users within WordPress. You can assign the right to view, modify, and change articles based on these roles which gives you a head start when delegating responsibility to others without giving them too many privileges. You can also add plugins like User Permissions which allows the granting of specific permissions on a per page/post level and simplifies the permissions system drastically from an administrative point of view.
4. Copy the successes of others. There is a fantastic article that was written a little while ago about the conversion of a WordPress site into a full fledged CMS that is worth reading if only for the conceptual leaps the author made when creating the new site on the base of WordPress.
5. Sketch/Map/Plan your ideas out before you get started. An organizational map or flowchart is the basis of all large scale programming projects so don’t bypass the thought process because you’re working with the web. Figure out what you need your site to do, the logical order in which pages should be assembled, who should be able to see which parts of the site, and a map should emerge eventually from this process.
This, of course, is only a starting point to get you thinking about the ways you might use WordPress to manage your needs. Don’t forget that a large part of this process is also thinking a little differently about the tools that you already use day in and day out. Think about the plugins you already put to use, how you’ve sectioned off WP for your own use, and any other special adaptations you’ve already made to WP. Adapt those things to new uses and your brain is already a number of steps of ahead of what needs to happen on your keyboard.