The Complete WordPress-as-a-CMS Guide: Benefits, Tips, Common Questions and Inspiration

Categories Articles, Web Design, Wordpress
wp

This is a guest post by Timothy Lupo of Fresh Tilled Soil – a leading Boston web design firm that specializes in custom WordPress CMS websites and UI web applications.

WordPress started as a simple blogging platform back in 2003. Since its introduction only a few short years ago, WordPress (WP) has blossomed into a winning content management system (CMS). So what are your actions once you create a website?

The functions of WordPress seem to be endless, as more and more people are harnessing its power for template designs, blogging, corporate websites/blogs and so much more. You’d be crazy to side against its ballooning online audience and argue that WordPress isn’t here to stay.

If you’ve ever looked for a CMS platform you understand the complexity of finding a simple CMS that actually works and isn’t full of bugs or fatal error messages. Finding a CMS platform system capable of adapting to your growing needs is also a must. This is exactly why so many individuals have chosen to use WordPress as their CMS.

Benefits of Using WordPress as a CMS

Simple Interface:

The WordPress platform offers a simple user interface when it comes to other content management systems. After logging into WP you’ll arrive at the dashboard. The WordPress dashboard allows you to change many elements of your website without having to know a line of code. You can change/edit images, pages, posts, content and a variety of other features fairly quickly. Check out the logged in WP dashboard below:

wordpress dashboard image(WordPress dashboard)

User Friendly:

WordPress is extremely user friendly. Other content management systems boast about their endless list of features, but more often than not, they are extremely complicated to use. WordPress however, is easy to adapt to without any needed support. To add a new post to your blog/website you’ll need to create a new post, customize the URL, upload/edit content and “update” the page, which will push it live on your site. Check out this process below:

wordpress edit post image

(WordPress Dashboard – Editing & Posting Content)

Web Library:

WordPress has an extensive web library of templates and plugins. Templates are used to change the look and feel of your WP website. Often times you can download a variety of free templates online that can meet a variety of your needs. Plugins are another great feature that allow you to add specific elements to your WP platform. If you do a search for either WordPress templates/plugins you’ll be able to peruse the extensive list of templates/plugins.

Online Community:

Even if you do run into problems when you’re setting up the WordPress platform, don’t worry. WordPress has a very strong and tight-knit community ready to help you out. All you have to do is run a simple search to find answers to all of your questions.

It’s Free:

You don’t have to pay for the WordPress platform. The only time you will ever have to pay for anything is if you decide to create a custom WP template. Typically you can hire a third party web design firm that specializes in WordPress, with you want a unique/customized template.

It’s Evolving:

WordPress is a CMS that’s going to change with your business. WP has one of the largest online communities that’s dedicated to making this platform work for you. These individuals are constantly striving to push the limits of WordPress, provide users with a platform that’s capable of evolving to meet future expectations and needs.

WordPress Installation

WordPress is famous for it’s “5-minute install.” Of course, if you’re migrating content from an existing CMS to WordPress or creating a customized theme, it’s going to take much longer. But if you’re starting fresh and are ready to install WP right out of the box, without any customization, it doesn’t take long at all.

Here are the detailed instructions: Install WordPress

Things to Think About Before Switching to a WordPress CMS

Even though the WordPress platform is very solid from a performance stand-point, like any technical system, you can run into problems along the way. Typically, problems can arise when you try to change the WordPress platform too much. If you are able to maintain a lot of the original features and integrity of WordPress you shouldn’t run into too many problems. Make sure if you do many extensive changes you hire professional who specifically deals with WordPress, as they will be able to maintain and update your system without any issues.

Often times problems can arise when too many changes or too many active plugins modify the original WordPress code. It’s important to note that many of the plugins created for WordPress are from third-party developers and when you update to a newer version of WordPress, the existing plugins may not always work. That’s why it’s important to hire someone knowledgable in WordPress if you want to make

Common Questions about WordPress, Answered

If I’m migrating my current site to WordPress, will I lose any of the search rankings I’ve worked so hard to establish in Google?

No. Almost 100% of the time, you will be able to maintain your search rankings. Whenever you migrate an existing site you should follow best practices. This means establishing the proper 301 redirects and creating a similar site structure on the new site. This way you can property redirect old pages to new pages of the site.

If I migrate my website to WordPress, will search engines and search robots be able to easily index my site?

Yes. When you properly set-up the WordPress CMS and install the necessary plugins, it can be a powerful tool when it comes to search engine indexation. WordPress gives you the ability to easily manage, customize the individual page URL’s and create unique meta data that’s great for your SEO and search engine efforts.

Is WordPress just for bloggers?

No. WordPress isn’t just for bloggers anymore. When WordPress was originally founded it was a blogging platform, however, since then it’s grown-up and become a full-fledged content management system. Many corporate websites are now running on WordPress and love it’s sleek and simple to use interface.

What features are hard to support when you migrate to WordPress?

On average WordPress is a great system, but there are some instances when it might be difficult to migrate certain elements to the new platform. These may include user driven content, membership setup, online payment processing, large sites (over 10,000 database entries). You should talk with a professional that’s familiar with WordPress to discuss each individual concern you have and they will be able to lend insight into a possible solution.

Top 10 WordPress Plugins

When you log into the WP dashboard be sure to navigate to the “plugins” category and search for these popular plugins that will help make your WordPress blog/website that much better.

All in One SEO Pack:

In it’s simplest form, this plugin optimizes your WordPress blog for search engines. It allows you to create unique title/description and other important meta data for each page of your site. It will automatically populate fields right out of the box. There is very little you have to do once you set it up. Learn more here.

Google XML Sitemaps:

This plugin in will generate a special XML sitemap for your website, that will help the Google search engine more easily index and priorities your website/blog. Learn more here.

WP Super Cache:

Sometimes WordPress sites that have a lot of content or have a lot of visitors can run a little slow. This plugins speeds up the load time of your site by creating static versions of webpages, requiring less CPU processing. Learn more here.

AddToAny:

This plugins helps people easily share/bookmark your content on their favorite sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Digg and many more. Which from a social media standpoint is very good. Learn more here.

Broken Link Checker:

This plugin is extremely helpful for websites that have a lot of pages and link to a variety of outside sources. This plugin notifies you will links are broken on your website, giving you the ability to easily monitor and update these broken links. Learn more here.

Google Analytics for WordPress:

If you want a way to monitor your on-site traffic easily then this plugin will be a sure winner in your book. Once you sign-up for a Google Analytics account, this plugin will automatically add the analytics code to all pages of your website. Learn more here.

Gravity Forms:

Creating custom forms on your website is no longer a hassle. This plugin allows you to create and manage several forms on your website right within the admin panel of WordPress. Learn more here.

Simple 301 Redirects:

Whenever you change existing URL’s you’ll want to be sure to set-up a 301 redirect. This plugin gives you the ability to set-up 301 redirects from existing pages to new pages of the site with no downtime. Learn more here.

WordPress Database Backup:

If you are worried you might lose valuable data, then it’s important to be able to easily and frequently back that data up. When you use this plugins it automatically sends a backup copy of WordPress database to your email so you never have to fear lost data. Learn more here.

Autoptimization:

This plugin optimizes your site by pulling all the CSS and JavaScript code together and compressing it. This allows for a quicker page loading and makes your pages more lightweight without being weigh down by endless code. Learn more here.

WP to PSD:

WPfromPSD is the leading US based PSD to WordPress coding service.

WordPress Inspiration

If you’re still questioning the power of WP you might be inspired by these businesses that have successfully integrated WordPress into their blogs and corporate websites.

Blogs:

Ebay

ebay blog image(click here to visit: ebay blog)

Sony

sony blog image(click here to visit: Sony Blog)

Ford

the ford story blog image(click here to visit: Ford blog)

CNN

cnn blog image(click here to visit: CNN blog)

 

Corporate Websites:

Network Solutions

network solutions homepage image(click here to visit: Network Solutions)

 

Spotify

spotify homepage image(click here to visit: Spotify)

 

Fresh Tilled Soil

fresh tilled soil homepage image(click here to visit: Fresh Tilled Soil)

Eye-Fi

eye-fi homepage image

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.
  • WordPress is an amazing platform. It is flexable, customisable and easy to use. I love building sites with it, and my clients love using it!

    Go WordPress!

    http://www.thewebtaylor.co.uk

  • jone

    this article is awesome! It literally touches on all the questions I’d like to know relating to using the WordPress CMS from a business stand point, web design stand point, and PRACTICAL, in terms of the FAQS addressed about transferring sites and the best plug in descriptions. thanks so much!

  • Very nice tips tanks for sharing

  • This is a great article for sharing with new clients who have perhaps heard of WP as a blogging platform and dont comprehend just how much it can do. I’ll be bookmarking this article for future reference!

  • Steve

    The links for the last four blogs (text and screenshots) are all going to the network solutions page

  • Hey guys, thanks a lot for checking it up, glad you like the writeup!

    @Steve Updated the last four links, thx for the heads up!

  • Great article, I’m a huge WordPress fan myself so I enjoy seeing articles that do the CMS some justice :)

  • Tim

    Just linked to this post from a previous post and tweeted it as well – too good not to! You hit the nail on the head with this one!

  • I had to explain the points mentioned in the article to customers over and over again. Now I can send them to this article.

    Mentioning that famous sites like WIRED and the L.A. Times are running some WordPress installations usually cuts straight to the point and moves WordPress out of it’s blogging past.

    Referring to the official ShowCase on WordPress.org (http://wordpress.org/showcase/) also helps.

    Check out my RichCORP WordPress Business theme (http://richwp.com/themes/child-themes/richcorp-theme/) as an easy to customize solution for DIY and shoestring businesses

  • WordPress as a CMS… Great Article. I use Word press for years and its work fine.

    The Website http://www.top-weihnachtsgeschenke.info is a CMS by WordPress

  • Just love it when others notice the true power of WordPress.
    My clients love working with it! Sooo easy to use!

  • Great guide, almost ALL of my clients ask for WordPress, and those that don’t, I offer to integrate it with their site for free. It’s actually quicker for me to code a WP site than it is a static site now, lol.

  • I’m just discovering the full power of wordpress 3.0 and loving it!

  • It’s a good post, but I think the top 10 plugin post is a different post.

    I like the examples you posted of companies using wordpress. It will definitely give trust to other companies.
    Now if there only was a plugin to style the admin pages as easy as the front of the site.

  • Eileen lonergan

    I too love WordPress! This article is very thoughtful, thank you. http://expand2web.com has an awesome blog and YpuTube channel with lots of tips and tutorials on using WordPress. They also have six really nice themes that are getting my clients great seo results.

  • 0rion

    WordPress is great but once you build on drupal you wouldn’t go back.

  • I have a post on how to quickly set up WP as a CMS from a vanilla install http://bit.ly/boVerA plus a Photoshop version of the Twenty Ten theme for those who are interested.

    @SiteOptimo The Admin Menu Editor plugin doesn’t let you style the admin, but does let you customise the structure of the admin toolbar, which is kind of useful.

  • Great article Timothy, I definitely agree that WordPress shines when it comes to a robust and trouble-free admin dashboard!

    The Harvard Gazette (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/) runs entirely on WordPress. As a CMS, WordPress provides a solid workflow that allows an entire team of photographers, editors, and writers to produce visually captivating stories and galleries.

    WordPress allows for custom templates based on a category. For example, there is a special section for photography lovers: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/section/multimedia/photo-journal/

    Another perk of WordPress is being able to switch themes based on mobile devices. Take a look at the Gazette on an iPhone or Android and you will have a mobile based presentation that keeps all the URLs intact without needing redirects.

    Developers love WordPress’s PHP powered structure, as it is very straightforward to work as a CMS framework.

    Thanks again, enjoyed the read.

    • SAM

      What template did harvard use? is it the gazette theme?

  • art

    wow

  • Excellent Article given by you, thanks a lot. Keep posting more.

  • A very detailed article on word press I can find newer points in this I believe wordpress is covered in detail like nowhere

  • the article you have posted awesome which supports wordpress i would believe in it thanks!!!!! for such article

    …………….

  • Great analysis for small businesses evaluating WP as a CMS tool.

  • This is a very insightful article! Keep up the great work!

  • C

    great article…

  • Owesome post, i <3 WP, great recopilation of plugins, thanks!!

  • Hi, I quickly read your posts and i can see that your website has potential however no matter how good your content is you NEED traffic and exposure to the huge wide web. I really think you will find something to help you on this site, it has really helped me with my blog and i am now making $10,000 + per month blogging.
    http://movie.adult.jkr30.com/ – mein blog

  • Ron

    Actually, WordPress began life a few years earlier, when it was known as cafelog/b2. WordPress became the authorized fork from among several, when the original author stopped having time to work on b2.

  • WP stinks

    WordPress is the dumptruck at a dump. Clearly the author has never written a WP plugin before. As soon as you start writing plugins for WP, you realize how shoddy the engineering of WP is and wonder how in the world it can even function. I am not alone in this opinion. WP is crap and barely functions. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything better or people would be using that instead of WP.

  • Vikas Arora

    Nice to see your blog its really and almost all of developers are aware that word installation and using is really easy in compare of other CMS.

  • Prabhav

    Hey!

    I’ve been greatly impressed by WordPress lately, and am eager to use it.

    But, I want to use WordPress only as a CMS. I want to design my website myself, and just want WordPress to manage the content.

    Kindly help.

  • carl

    Thank you for your article, you can also find information on this subject here http://www.wikilinks.fr

  • Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no data backup.

    Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?