Moving from static pages to a cms…
I had a conversation with someone today about WordPress. They said “Why are you building a web site with a blogging package?” I must admit, at first it got me thinking. After I came to my senses, I explained to them how its more than a blog.
I was staring at my screen just over a year ago. I wanted to rebuild CanisHosting.com, and had drawn out several wire frames, and jotted down several page titles. I even pondered the thought of having a new logo built. Finally, I built a prototype page, and tossed the link into an IM window at a friend.
His first reaction? “It looks like a 12 yr old drew it with crayons.”
He was right. I knew it was sub-par, and that’s the main reason I sent him the link. My inner me wanted to hear it so I didn’t continue. I was wasting my time trying to build pages and be something I wasn’t — a graphic designer. At that point he turned me to WordPress.
WordPress is more than a blog. It is a complete Content Management System with thousands of plugins, and themes. You can customize it any way you want with its Codex (API), or you can grab a theme and drop in plugins and widgets, tailoring the way you want it.
“Why would I want my front page to be a blog?”
That was the question I was asked today. The answer: You don’t, and you don’t have to. WordPress defaults the front page as a “Page of Posts”. This option is settable inside the Settings. You simply go to Settings > Reading, and change what the front page displays to anything you want. A page, a post, or a Page of Posts.
After getting WordPress setup, I then turned my attention to a nice theme. My friend recommended one from Graph Paper Press. Its mostly an artist or photography theme, but I saw the layout, and realized it was what I was picturing in my mind.
I began going thru the code stripping out lines that displayed comments, back and forth links, and rewording hard-coded artist terms. I then built out my front page, and the rest is history. I had a fully functional web site up and running. After integrating my billing system, the site was launched, and the compliments rolled in.
Another good theme I’ve started using for all my projects is Suffusion. Suffusion has support for multiple sidebars. Upper, right, left, middle, lower. You can easily drag widgets into them for anything you need. You can change all the colors, the header images, the menus, etc. It’s a free theme, with the option to buy the author a cup of coffee if you like it.
I also have a set of plugins that I tell people are a must. They are:
- Ad Codes Widget
- Code Markup (For highlight code on posts)
- Fast Secure Contact Form
- Google Analytics for WordPress
- Google XML Sitemaps with qTranslate Support
Others I’m testing right now are Headspace2, an SEO plugin. I was using the All In One SEO Package, but I was advised that Headspace2 was much nicer. WPTouch is also a nice plugin for quickly deploying a mobile version of your web site. There is a free and pro version.
Plugins are very easy to install also. Simply go to the Plugins area of the admin section, and search for them. You can click the install links, and then go activate them.
The next time you build a site, keep WordPress in mind. Its simple to use, has tons of support, and there are themes for any project available. You’ll be able to easily manage, and configure your site in any situation. It’s a great alternative to static pages, or other complex frameworks.
Dan Joseph is the CEO and head of Software Engineering of Familiaris Games. Aside from my personal flash game projects, I am collaborating with Ben Davis on multiple future projects, and writing the story and script for an upcoming AAA level RPG, modelled after the same type of game play you see in Lost Odyssey, Final Fantasy, and other Japanese-based RPGs. When I'm not developing games, I'm working as a Web Developer on various major brand web sites. You can follow me on twitter @iamdanjoseph. If you wish to contact me, please click the contact page, and fill out the form. I will get back to you as soon as I can.