I’ve known for a while that you can use WordPress as a small-scale content management system, but I’ve not had the chance to put it into practice until last week, when I worked on a site for which it was an ideal fit: a client already using WordPress for blogging, a relatively small number of pages, an existing design which could be readily adapted.
All the same, there were a number of challenges. First there was an existing two-tier menu system. I felt this needed to be user-managed rather than hard-coded, so new pages could be added to the second level. I based my solution on the Fold Page List plugin, but with a couple of minor additions to make the menus more customisable: per-item CSS styling and menu-specific text.
The site required a contact form, for which I used the excellent cforms plugin, which is a model of what a plugin should be: flexible, easy to get to grips with – and it works.
I also installed SEO Title Tag, Add Meta Tags and Spam Karma. Something like SEO Title Tag is vital if you have any desire to optimise your pages for search engines (and why would you not?). A good meta description is also important, not so much for achieving a high position in result lists but in getting users to click on your listing.
Once I’d migrated all the existing content to wordpress pages, the site was more or less finished. Quite a painless exercise, on the whole.
One caveat, though about WordPress as a CMS: if you have a page hierarchy, page permalinks will reflect that, so for example if you have an ‘about me’ section under which there is a ‘my hobbies’ page, the permalink will be something like ‘/about-me/my-hobbies/’. If at some future date you decide to move your ‘my hobbies’ page to a different section or to the top level of the hierarchy, its so-called permalink will change. This is a major drawback, but one for which I’m considering a solution: watch this space.
Consider me won over to the idea of WordPress as a CMS, though. This very site is currently at the workshop being rebuilt along those lines…