WordPress as a Platform

For the past 3.5 years I have been using WordPress to power this blog and also as a content management framework for a whole series of other websites that I develop and/or manage in some way.

Ironically I haven’t posted specifically on the WordPress publishing platform until now. One of my key activities to to assist brand owners with online marketing and fairly often we need to revisit their existing website to reposition their content in a more marketing friendly way.

Over the next few weeks I will post a series on the best use of WordPress for websites starting from today.

“WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.

If you visit the main wordpress.org site which is the home to self-hosted version you can view the full range of options and extensions. The first point that most people notice is the 5 minute install.

Adam Purcell from Newcastle, NSW, released a how to video last week on the 5 minute WordPress install including an installation of New Zealand’s very own WP -eCommerce Plugin. It’s a demo not a tutorial though but it does give a fast summary.

I wrote a comment along these lines. This is the kind of background I often use to explain some of the WordPress process for new users.

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Thanks for this Adam. Of course in a real life scenario there is a bit of finishing off to do on the site. WP-eCommerce has a whole range of configurations and extras that can be added. Best point for me is that it already has pre-built code for most of the popular payment gateways.

Another big plus is for music you can link back to iTunes store but still direct traffic through your own branded website.

Most users would set-up a few more plug-ins to add various functions. For example SEO and maybe navigation , bookmarking, contact form, Twitter and backup plugins. best way to think of a plugin is like a mini application. They are similar to those used on iPods or Facebook but can also be very simple widget style add ons.

Choosing the right plugin can take longer as many of them overlap and some are better than others. Still you can see how many downloads there and been and the big ones are into the 100,000+ level. Always useful to check the stats and user feedback.

WP-eCommerce for example is showing 169,109 downloads (now 174,262! another 5,000 in a few days.)

On the design side very few users would keep the theme “as is”. At the very least most users would want to add logos, change colours and shades to match their own branding. Almost certainly you would want to change font sizes and styles. Changing this is done via CSS (stylesheet)which is like a design filter or interpreter that you view the underlying website data through.

Some themes have options to say – swap out the header panel or icon sets. You can also commission a designer to build a theme to match existing brand assets. Besides design skills they need to be able to work with CSS and PHP to build the theme set.

In the early days choosing a theme that is closest to your existing design is a way to save time and speed up the roll-out of a WordPress based site.

WordPress is now 6 years old now and there are still many website users who are surprised to find out that it can replace most of the content managed system around and it’s very simple to use.

The video had over 5000 views in 36 hrs.

Tune in over the next few weeks as I summarize thoughts about Themes and Plugins and provide examples of new ways to use WordPress.