I was recently at a seminar where the gentleman next to be insisted that WordPress was limited. He admitted that WordPress could be used to build simple websites, but felt that WordPress was limited to blog posts and pages. As a result he couldn’t do what he wanted with WordPress – it simply wasn’t good at organizing large amounts of data. This is no longer the case! There are three basic ways that WordPress can be customized:
1.) Themes. Themes are basically WordPress templates or skins. Thousands of free themes are available and make a good starting point for creating a customized theme. Themes can actually include functionality as well. I recommend using the “Weaver 2010 theme”, which is extremely flexible. You may need a web developer to create a theme, but once you have a theme built, it is a simple matter for a business owner to maintain their own website.
2.) Plug-ins. WordPress functionality can be extended with add-ons known as plug-ins. There are over 10,000 plug-ins available for WordPress, most of them for free. This actually creates a problem – how do you know which plug-in is the best for your purpose? If you are looking to extend WordPress with a plug-in for displaying video content on your site, add a shopping cart, or build email forms, how do you select the best one from the hundreds that are available? And then, once you find the right one, how can I modify it if it isn’t exactly what I want? Again, the answer to this may involve a WordPress web developer who knows PHP programming, but once the plug-ins are properly installed and configured, they are easy for a business owner to use (in fact, many are seamless and require no interaction at all).
3.) Custom Post Types. The misconception that my friend had about the limitations of WordPress is that “real content management systems” would allow for different data types, not just pages and posts. WordPress uses five major types by default: posts, pages, attachments, revisions, and nav menus. For more complex websites, you may need a custom post type, such as a library document, a product for sale, or a rotating ad. When WordPress 3.0 was released in May of 2010, WordPress began accommodating custom post types, allowing a web developer with database skills and PHP programming to do anything that any other content management system can do.
WordPress might have begun as a blogging software, but it is now the best choice for a content management system for most business owners. I’ve been developing websites for years and have used about every technology available for creating them. About a year ago I started messing around with WordPress and have been deploying WordPress based sites ever since — because they are simply better, here’s why:
- WordPress is solid – it has quickly become the most popular website platform and is now responsible for over 50 million websites. As an open-source platform, it has a community of developers that continually update it.
- WordPress is easy to use – you may need a web developer to set it up or a PHP programmer to add functionality, but any business owner can easily add pages and keep their site up to date.
- Unbeatable Feature Set – With thousands of plug-ins available, WordPress is the most comprehensive content management system there is. Period.
- Powerful SEO – Google and other search engines love WordPress. If you are concerned about search engine optimization, you can’t do any better than a WordPress website.
- WordPress is Easier to Maintain – because of the huge community of web developers supporting WordPress, your website will not become obsolete. Updates happen almost automatically. Even if you decide to change your theme in a couple of years, you won’t have to start over.