This is my presentation from WordCamp Montreal 2010: WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System).
The slides themselves are a little scanty since the talk was for the audience first, and the “after crowd” second. Still, I’m sure you will get some useful info from the slides. I have added some additional information below to accompany the slides.
One of the major revelations that I point during the talk is that a blog IS a website. The difference is arbitrary and decided by the user and the purpose of the site. A second important point that I discuss refers to what is being managed. In fact, you are managing content and communications.
A Powerful Solution
The first part discusses the leap from what constitutes a basic CMS to why WordPress is a such a powerful solution. The reasons being:
1. It’s free
2. It’s very easy and user-friendly
3. It’s flexible, versatile, adaptable, adjustable, and extensible
4. It ha a large theme directory (free or reasonably priced)
5. Its plugin potential that takes WordPress as a platform to the next level
6. It is backed by strong community support, programmers, developers, plugin creators and so on. The fact that WordCamps are being held around the world is a testament to that.
7. Mobility. There are WordPress apps for Android, Blackberry, and the iPhone
8. It’s modular by nature, meaning that you can make a change in one area (design, programming, or content) and not have an impact on the others. This allows for growth (change templates, add features, expand…) and it means that non-computer savvy/noobs can easily make changes. Since designand content are separate, you can upgrade the design but not worry about changing content. Templates are easily modified.
The next part discusses how to convert WordPress into a CMS. Followed by tips on how to refine your CMS for business websites.
I mention a few of the pitfalls of using WordPress as a business CMS which you should be aware of. WordPress is a fantastic product and that’s why we celebrated it with this conference. That said, here are some poitns to consider:
Upgrading is easy and often require only one click but it may cause problems that are time consuming and costly to fix. The more customized the site is, the harder it is to upgrade to the new version so blogs usually have simpler themes whereas WP as a CMS can be much more complicated or at least more complex. New versions of WP means that some plugins become redundant (which is typically a good thing). If you customize the site a lot, it may be difficult to upgrade later on and an interruption in service might annoy clients. Finally, upgrading to ecommerce is much more difficult than you might think.
Rely on Programmers
Out of the box, it’s easy to use but requires a professional to really understand what you are trying to do (marketing, SEO, fancy features, CRM, social media integration, etc). Keep in mind that if you’re a business owner, someone has to choose your plugins and make sure they work the way you want them to. Next, while the API is easily modified, technical understanding is required.
You May Need a Web Designer
When it comes to design, you can get a custom design (recommended in most cases) or you can use a free or purchased templates. Note that clients often request updates and adjsutments (such as adding an X-mas banner) so one has to consider the on-going versus one-time costs (set up). If you have a web designer who understands WP, all the better. You may even want your designer to modify free templates but again there is a (fully justified) cost associated with that.
You May Want to Un-Plugin
There are several issues surrounding plugins that you should be aware of.
1. Plugins are frequently discontinued or no longer supported.
2. Some are overhyped like the e-commerce plugins which are full of issues. Do you want to trust your store to a plugin that is buggy?
3. Noobs tend to overdo the Plugins (so don’t get caught up in the gadgets. Focus on what’s useful to website visitors).
4. There’s an added security risk with a handful of plugins. For example, if your plugin is for “file uploads” someone can upload a file that overwrites the WP standard with a viral exe file.
5. In some cases, pages versus posts can become an issue because some plugins are designed for one or the other.
Staff Training Issues
Training for staff may be necessary. It’s easy to learn the basics, but clients will break the site from time to time, especially if it’s complex such as adding photo galleries, etc. In some cases, simply adding text may be an issue for some companies.
WordPress still has some issues with more than one language. There are major plugin considerations and implications such as the fact that a multilingual plugin may break other plugins since they weren’t meant for more than one language. There is also an ongoing issue with SEO.
WordPress CMS Possibilities
I do point out that you can use WordPress as a CMS to stand for your business website. However, there’s another way to look at it. You can think of using the software to develop a completely different type of website from the “traditional” use of WordPress which is to blog. These variations include:
- Job Boards
- Personal Site
- Classified Ads
- Real Estate Listings
- Social Media Network
- Event Registration
- Membership Website
- Review Websites
- Radio Station (RSS Station)
- Online Store
- Subscription-only Website
- Product Gallery
- Video Sharing
- Word Processing Cloud
- Web Directory
- The List Goes On…
Towards the end, there’s a one page list of questions that businesses should ask before using the system, and it concludes with some screenshots of companies that are using WordPress as a CMS.
My talk was very well received and I thank everyone for all of the great feedback. Feel free to leave comments on the talk itself, the slides or anything related to WordPress as a CMS.