When you hear “WordPress” you probably think of blogs. That’s not unusual: WordPress is the most popular blogging platform out there. But it isn’t just for blogging anymore. Did you know WordPress is also the most popular CMS platform? Nowadays, WordPress can be used as a complete content management system for your association or institute. There’s practically no limit to the customizations that are possible with WordPress. If you can dream it up, it probably can be done.
A Brief History
In 2005, the WordPress developers introduced three new features: Pages, Themes and Post Types. These opened up vast new possibilities that allow WordPress users to break out of the blog mold. Since then, WordPress has been a full-fledged content management system able to deploy the kind of content that many associations and institutes need with advanced functionality.
By default, a WordPress blog by default displays content in reverse chronological order. Every time you make a new blog post, it appears on top. You have little control over where it is displayed in the hierarchy of your site. However, this format is great when your organization wants to display its latest news prominently. For one of our clients that publishes a daily online magazine, the Globalist, this was essential.
However, there’s some information that you always want your visitors to have immediate access to, such as your contact information, FAQs, case studies, and white papers. With pages, you can organize and display your content where you want it, with the ability to hierarchically organize content into pages and sub-pages, accessible from menus.
In fact, one of the best things about pages is that you can make one your homepage, rather than have your blog be the first thing a visitor sees. Instead, the blog can be displayed on a separate, less prominent page linked to from the homepage. You can even do away with having a blog altogether if it doesn’t meet your association’s objectives. One of our consultancy clients, Abile Group, simply uses WordPress as a content management system.
Themes allow you to customize the look and feel of your web site as well as introduce dynamic functionality wherever you need it. Themes from one site to the next can be so different that you won’t even realize that they were both built using WordPress.
Being able to customize the look and feel is important for the branding of your association or institute. Long associated with for-profit businesses, new research out of Harvard University suggests that branding is also important in the non-profit world, both internally within organizations and externally for advancing the mission of an organization and maximizing its impact. When we created a Web site for the new Citi Open Tennis tournament, we incorporated the traditional WTA branding elements along with a color scheme that matched the colors of the event sponsor, Citibank.
Themes also allow you to deploy widgets to different parts of your site. Widgets are areas on pages that contain static or dynamic content or fillable forms. Widgets can be deployed in the footer, header and sidebars of a WordPress site. We customized the advocacy “take action” plugin for the NPCA to let users contact their congressional representatives about legislation of interest to them.
Custom Post Types
Post types, although introduced in 2005, did not become easy to customize until 2010. Custom post types increase the power of WordPress beyond a simple CMS. WordPress can be a fully customized web environment now. For example, we created a custom post type to accommodate job advertisements for former Peace Corps volunteers.
The sites we built that you have been introduced to above all have very different purposes, appearance and content. What they have in common is that they all were custom crafted using the powerful flexibility of WordPress.
Contact us or leave a comment below if you are interested in learning more about how we can put the power of WordPress to work for your institute or association.