Using WordPress as a CMS

WordPress is the most widely used content management system (CMS) as of 2011. It originally started out as a tool to easily get a blog up and running. As it evolved, there was a higher demand for additional functionality and more all purpose goals were established.  Since then WordPress has been able to accommodate a great deal of user requests through built in features and additional plugins created by third party developers.

The goal of this article is to clarify whether or not you should be using WordPress as a CMS.  We will first focus on projects that should probably not use wordpress as a CMS to.

WordPress should probably not be used if you plan on:

1) Developing a full scale eCommerce site – While WordPress does have a few very popular shopping cart plugins, they pale in comparison to a full fledge shopping cart like Magento. One option is to use both WordPress and Magento in parallel via a bridge. If you just have a couple products you want to sell, you can use a variety of WordPress plugins to help achieve this. Be forewarned though, a lot of these plugins lack the flexibility and will require some decent modifications to get working to your specifications.

2) Building a social networking site – Again, you will find a variety of plugins for WordPress that will all you to have members sign up and use some functionality similar to other social networking sites but if you want the ability to customize any aspect of it, it will require a good amount of work.

3) Custom Developed Software – We have had a lot of requests to try and bend WordPress in order to fit a custom application that someone is trying to develop. In the long run it’s best to build something custom from the ground up as trying to make it fit around a pre built solution could lead to chaos down the road. Also, when you try to upgrade WordPress versions you have to make sure all of your customizations are compatible.

Now that we have some of the major uses of what WordPress should not be used for, we will now focus on what WordPress excels at.

1) Blogging – WordPress is synonymous blogging and as mentioned was one of the first applications built with blogging in mind. They have had a few years to perfect the blogging aspect of the software so getting your blog up and running can be done without much expense or headache.

2) Updating Content/Pages – A majority of our clients use WordPress to update pages outside of the blog which saves a lot of time not having to worry about going through someone else to make updates. WordPress has a simple editor that makes changing content painless. For instance you can easily edit:

a. Information on your company/about/news/home/etc pages
b. Add a new member profile to your team
c. Update your portfolio – add images and video
d. Create new pages on the fly
e. Rearrange menu structure – a great new feature that is found in the later versions of WP

3) Search Engine Optimization – WordPress was made with search engine compliance in mind. It’s amazing how fast a designed WordPress page can move up in search engines, so long as the content is original and valuable.

Takeaway – Using WordPress as a CMS can save you a great deal of time and money. With the vast amount of plugins available, you can form fit it to work for you. However, if you require heavy modifications, too many plugins, a full eCommerce solutions, it’s best to use something else or use WordPress in parallel.