How Great Is WordPress?

Mark at Search-This writes about how much he loves WordPress, not just as a blogging platform but as a CMS (Content Management System) in general. (His post also lists some ways to trick out your WordPress installation.) It’s arguably one of the most accessible yet powerful blogging platforms out there, and it’s free, as are many hundreds of themes and plugins. What’s more, anyone that does not want a blog can use it to manage a regular website. In my post the dangers of too many sites, I talked about converting a blog to a regular website as an option to reduce your blogging commitment.

Some CMS History

Compare free to the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars that “corporate” CMS packages can cost. For my clients and/or employers, I’ve used, evaluated and even written (rudimentary) CMSes. The commercial packages I’ve evaluated or used have cost anywhere from $200,000 to over a million.

There’s an enormous market for web content management, with many millions of dollars at stake. But then along comes a whole slew of free Open Source CMS packages for blogging, including WordPress – which is one of the more robust platforms. [The irony that I’m posting this article on a Drupal platform is not lost on me. I love the power of Drupal, but cannot use it for any of my own blogs as the host does not provide the necessary database privileges. It’s also a rather complex install process compared to WordPress. WordPress is thus a far more accessible platform to the average blogger or small business.]

WordPress As General CMS

The fact is, WordPress can be used as a near industrial strength CMS for regular websites, and there are a couple of ways to give the semblance of a regular website.

  1. Undated URLs.
    Look at the URL of the average WordPress blog and you’ll usually see the year, month and day as part of the (virtual) directory structure. It is also possible, in the “Permalinks” section of the WordPress control panel, to use URLs that leave out the date. This way, you can still display the freshest content upfront, without the site appearing to be a blog.

  2. Posts vs pages.
    Wordpress has two types of content: posts and pages. Posts are displayed reverse chronologically. Pages are only accessible through the navigation bar. Pages can thus be used instead of posts to produce a regular website. For such use, the home page could have static content, with excerpts of pages and the necessary links. There would be no “post of the day”, or any posts for that matter.

  3. Contact forms.
    While many blogs don’t have one, the Contact page is an important of a business website. A variety of contact form plugins exist for WordPress. Just install the plugin, and activate and configure it. Now create a page, then embed the necessary code in the page. Voila, visitors can communicate with you without seeing your email address.

  4. About Us page.
    An About Us page is a suitable complement to a Contact form. Of course, you could combine the two. Or this page can also double as a sitemap for the rest of your content

While a free package cannot compete with a corporate-level CMS, WordPress is a fine platform for blogging, as well as a satisfactory basic CMS for a small business. The beauty of it is that if you decide to start a weblog, all you have to do is start publishing “posts” in addition to “pages”. Add a web feed link, and visitors can subscribe in their favorite feed reader.

5 thoughts on “How Great Is WordPress?

  1. Use Textpattern! It is a great CMS and Blog system. It is faster then WP and the template system is super easy and tag based. Of course you can still inject PHP code if you need to.

    I will never understand why people use WP as a CMS. Never ever. Drupal is great if you want to offer community features but for a lightweight free CMS/Blog system nothing comes close to textpattern.

    It has to be said (again) …

  2. Too true, Marcel. I actually like Drupal a great deal. The only two negatives I have about Drupal is (1) my host’s inability to give me the right database privileges and (2) more complex installation than WordPress. I have the technical background but not the time to configure Drupal for every one of my sites. And now that numerous hosts are offering easy install WordPress, it’s hard to say I’d switch to Drupal.

  3. The latest version of Drupal (5.0) has a impoved. It’s web based installation procedure only require database information and that the correct file and directory rights to be assigned.

    Writing your own CMS has it own share of headaches… Imagine the man hours just to maintain it. Extending a reliable CMS with components and modules is much less consuming.

  4. Thanks for the links, Geof. That would be bad news if they went commercial AND sold to someone else. Maybe it’s time for me to write my CMS after all

  5. WordPress has recently been getting abandoned by some of the original developers and designers that helped to get it to where it is today. They believe that has become more of a priority than – rightly so, in many regards – and I don’t know how or if this will end up hurting WordPress in the future.

    Not everything about WordPress is shiny happy after all. Read more at BrokenKode and Chris J Davis.

    I can’t think of many open source products/organizations that go commercial and don’t manage to tick off their contributors in the process. I wonder if it’s even a smart business model to start with? Perhaps commercial and then open source is the better alternative.

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