Tips for using Wordpress as a website manager

I'm working on a project that involves building a website to organize and present a bunch of content. We could do it in raw HTML, but it makes more sense to use a content management system. We could do it in Drupal, but my ability to make Drupal look good is somewhat lacking. So, I'm using a site on UCalgaryBlogs to take advantage of Wordpress' content management features. Here's the basic how-to:

Basic setup:

First, create a page. Creatively call it "Home" or something. Go to Settings > Reading and set it as the front page.

Next, create your content as pages. Take advantage of Wordpress' parent-page feature to nest the pages as deeply as you want. I disabled comments and trackbacks on all pages, to keep it cleaner (and nobody's likely to comment on the pages anyway - we'll provide a feedback system for that).

I am using (at least for now) the default twenty-ten theme. It's pretty complete, and looks great. Pages show up in the main navigation bar, and get full drop-down hierarchical menus built for them.

Enable the Pages widget under Appearance > Widgets. Makes it easier for people to scan to find a page, without having to hunt and seek through all drop-down menus. It's trivial to provide both ways of navigating.

Plugins that help:

  • Bunny's Print CSS - make it look good if people decide to print stuff.
  • Explanatory Dictionary - automatically provide definitions for words and phrases, using a central glossary.
  • Markdown for Wordpress and BBPress - minimize the use of angly brackets as much as humanly possible.
  • Next Page - provide next/previous/parent links to help people navigate through a bunch of content without hunting through menus.
  • Xavin's List Subpages - provide a list of subpages on a page, for handier navigation of sections of the site.

With that in place, Wordpress becomes a very robust content management system. Much easier to build a website with a team of people through Wordpress, than it is to collaborate over static HTML or some of the other options. Easy.

See Also