Though WordPress is by far the leader when it comes to blogging software, it has made significant strides in the last two years towards becoming a quality Content Management System as well. This means that those who love WordPress can now easily bridge the gap between blogging and a website designed for news by setting up their blog as a CMS.
What is a CMS? I would define a CMS using WordPress to create a website that does not display your posts in reverse chronological order. In other words, a CMS is using WordPress for something other than blogging.
Some examples of WordPress as a CMS:
- News or Magazine-Style WordPress Site/Theme
- Building a Portfolio Site
- eCommerce Site
- Picture Gallery
- Video Blog
Even in looking at the early days of WordPress, you could see the potential there for using it as a Content Management System. In the years since, that potential continued to grow until it eventually became a reality, and now a significant portion of WordPress users are using it as a CMS. By far the most common WordPress CMS method is using a news or magazine style WordPress theme to create a more dynamic and informational homepage.
Usually all other pages hold to a traditional blog setup with a header, sidebar, and footer, while the homepage will display the most recent post in several different categories. The true advantage of this method is that you can easily integrate other forms of media, most commonly by adding podcasts or doing video blogging.
How do I build my CMS?
If you are uncomfortable with coding, there are a number of WordPress themes you can get that are setup as content management systems. You can find lots of free themes on the net, or go to a premium WordPress sites (these themes require you to purchase them in order to use).
There are also a number of WordPress plugins you can use to help give you the CMS functionality that you are looking for. Here are a few that I have either used or has been recommended for CMS blogs:
- CForms II – More than a contact form. You can pretty much build any type of form you’d like with this form.
- WP eCommerce – Gives you an easy to manage storefront and shopping cart! Integrates with PayPal and allows you to sell digital downloads.
- Subscribe 2 – Most Content Management Systems include a newsletter. This plugin allows you to easily integrate a newsletter into your website and manage it from the WordPress dashboard.
- Page Links To – The menu at the top of the website plays a HUGE role in a CMS. This plugin lets you control your WordPress menu without messing with the WordPress code. Want to link externally? What about linking to a portion of a post instead of the entire post?
- Search Everything – By default WordPress only searches blog posts. With a CMS, you’ll
probably have a number of static pages that you use, making this plugin essential.
- Role Manager - Many CMS’s include multiple authors. This plugin allows you to go above and
beyond the normal 5 roles that WordPress comes with by default, so authors have the
permissions you want them to have
Should I use a Content Management System?
This is probably a question most of us have asked ourselves at one point or another. When should you use a CMS? Unfortunately, that is not something I can answer as there are too many variables. Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself if you are considering a CMS for your website/blog:
- Do I have several categories I want to prominently feature?
- Do I plan to have multiple authors?
- Do I use a lot of pictures with my posts?
- Do I plan to have more than just blogging? (Video blogging, podcasting, photos, etc.)
Obviously if the answer is yes to each of the above questions, your website is probably a good candidate for a CMS. You’ll also want to keep in mind that many CMS-Style blogs create a different type of expectation than standard blogs. Often people expect more news and less opinion from these types of websites.