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Wordpress as C.M.S. (Content Management System) - Pros and Cons

joel reinke - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Blog Popularity has led to an evolution for Wordpress:

If you don't know about Blogging: Wordpress has taken a lead in creating an easy to use platform for serving-up content.  So much so that their easy to use Dashboard/Control Panel can also be used as a way to keep the rest of your website up to date.  In addition, there is a simple way to adjust Wordpress so that the blog page doesn't come up first: your 'Home Page' does.  You can make a menu system so the whole blog-run website looks and feels like a website with a blog, not just a blog with some extra pages tacked on.

This means Wordpress can be your complete, C.M.S. (Content Management System)
(Not Client Management System - at one point this got me too)
If CMS still means nothing to you, this is a simple way to think of it: you can edit your own webpage easily with no coding needed (at least after it's initially set up)

Now I'm not going to go into how to set that up, there are many other blogs online about how that works.  What this blog will focus on is how I've implemented this for some of my clients and the PROs and CONs of using Wordpress as your CMS.


What are you looking for in a web authoring platform? AND How tech savvy are you?

 

First obvious thing: You want a Blog.  If you don't, there are some better options out there for CMS's
 
These questions can be a good start for helping determine if Wordpress will work for your website.  For example, there are a lot of free templates out there for Wordpress.  I think these would work fine for a casual blog but a blog for a serious business would want to customize the template (or theme) or start from scratch and build a completely new theme.  Skills required: CSS, php, graphic Design, etc.

Another positive: many hosting companies are offering Wordpress as an easy to install addition to your website.  So you don't need to worry about a complicated installation.  If your host does not provide this easy option, we can evaluate what it would take to install it on your host.

The next important thing is the content you plan to put into Blog Posts and Web Pages.   Aside from the nicely formatted header, footer, and (optional) sidebar, and cool backgrounds and designs that will be on your page: There is that content section of each page.  Like for this post, it is just the text and images for this 'article'.  Not the graphics up at the top for the menu, etc.  For just the posts or pages, will you need any special formatting?  If so, maybe Wordpress isn't right for you.  Most of the special formatting can be designed for the rest of the page, but the content section should be kept simple - text, images, movies, and whatever else you can add in - in a straight forward layout. 

WHY?  If you put special formatting into the Wordpress page using their editor, sometimes it can strip it out and you're left with a broken design until you fix it.  It especially can have problems with CSS added in (div's especially).  If you code in HTML directly you can avoid this, but if you switch back over to the graphic editor it often strips it out. 

But, you really shouldn't need special formatting in your post or page.  Design or hire someone to design the wordpress theme so it looks great with simple posts/pages and then when you're writing your posts you can go quickly and not worry about special formatting, just content.

A bit more on 'How tech savvy are you?'  - If you can use email and have ever uploaded a photo onto anything online, you can use Wordpress.  The only exceptions are if you want to customize the look and feel of your blog, you need skills in HTML, CSS, PHP, and graphic design skills or ready to use graphics.  Contact Us if you need assistance here.

There are exceptions to the 'rule' mentioned above about special formatting on pages.  See www.bodyspaonline.com for examples.  If you notice the background changes for each section and there are other formatting changes as well.  All of this was done with specialized design with PHP and CSS but the client doesn't need to worry about that.  She just makes changes or additions to pages - doesn't mess with any special formatting - and the formatting is handled behind the scenes.  The only thing that can throw a monkey wrench into it is if <div>'s get added in and/or tags don't get closed.  The point is: use the theme/design to do special formatting.


There is a lot more to it, but in summary:

Pros:

  • Free
  • Has a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get) = easy to use tool for anyone to edit web pages
  • Some hosting services provide easy install
  • Many Free Themes/Templates that can be a good starting point (Hire us to customize them or from scratch)
  • Can easily insert images, movies, links, and much more

Cons:

  • Customization requires technical skills
  • Special Formatting in content section can cause problems
  • Won't do everything for you (Online Store, E-mail Marketing, Social Networking, :) cook for you)

Thanks for checking in.  In a future post I'll talk more about other C.M.S. options that can provide some of the things Wordpress is limited on.

Still, Wordpress is great!  It's doing way more than it was originally intended for.

Contact Mountain Multimedia if you need a custom designed Wordpress Theme or Plug-in.