I was recently introduced into using WordPress not only as a blogging engine, but as a full CMS to manage all the content of a site. It seems like the general perception of WordPress is that it’s only a blogging engine, but it really is much more than that if you take the time to look at it.
The latest major version of WordPress, v2.5, has really made it much easier to use WordPress as a content management system with new features like setting a “page” to be the home page of a site, rather than a list of blog entries. I’ve been amazed at how easy it has been to convert my entire website to run on WordPress.
How to Set it Up
It’s really quite simple to start using WordPress as a CMS. First, you will probably want to create your own design/theme for WordPress. With its simple theming system, it’s very easy to integrate an existing, static design or template into the WordPress theming engine.
Next, you’re going to have to create your content pages. This is easily done in WordPress by writing “Pages” (rather than “Posts”).
The last major step in using WordPress as a CMS is to tweak the settings a bit. In the settings, you’re going to need to have the front page display a “static” page. You can then choose which page (of the ones you created in the previous step) you want displayed as the home page, then you can choose another page which you want to be replaced with the “Loop” (list of recent WordPress posts), which is typically displayed on the homepage of a blog.
Of course, using WordPress as a CMS is not without a few, minor downfalls. There’s no built in support for using PHP, which would put off some people from using a CMS right away. In fact, I almost didn’t use it because of this reason… but fear not! You can easily add PHP to your pages a few ways… the first method is to create a new template page with the PHP in it, then create a content page and have it use the new template file rather than the default page template. This method is kind of hack-ish because you’re using templates in a way they weren’t really intended (or were they?). The second method to add PHP to your pages is to install this little, handy WordPress plugin (plugins make nearly everything possible with WordPress!) called Exec-PHP. With this plugin installed and enabled, you can add PHP code using the standard PHP tags (<?php…) to add PHP to your content pages. Easy!
WordPress offers a comparatively light-weight solution to replace existing, bulky CMSs and upgrade currently static websites to easily-managed dynamic websites. With it’s powerful plugin and templating engines, its really easy to customize WordPress to make it work for your website. I’m beginning to use WordPress when developing new sites because it makes it so much more easier to update pages in the future and make small changes without having to search for the page’s file, edit it, and re-FTP it to the website. And with WordPress, you don’t have to worry about templating and making header and footer files as the templating is built in, and it works very well!