WordPress as a Content Management Tool

My company has over 20 URL's for various recreation facilities we manage.  I do all the design and maintenance of these myself, generally using a shared core design with some color and content changes.  Since this is just a side job for me, I often put it off and unfortunately things get dated fast.

For a while now I have been wanting to experiment with a content management system to ease the maintenance of multiple web sites.  So over the past couple of weeks, I have played around with various CMS's.  I was intrigued for a while by ExpressionEngine, but the fact it was not public domain (ie it charges per site licenses that would be prohibitive for me) finally killed the deal.  I also looked at Joomla and Drupal. 

Eventually, I settled on what many will consider an odd choice:  WordPress.  Yeah, I know, its a blogging engine.  I know quite well, because I am in the process of converting both my blogs from Typepad to WordPress.  I chose WordPress for a few reasons:

  • I understand the blogging paradigm, and so I have a good sense for how the content will be handled, and the limitations.
  • I am, having messed around with my blogs, comfortable with the WordPress templating system.  Though certainly more limited than ExpressionEngine, it does what I need to do. I am moderately facile in CSS and PHP, the two real requirements to make a good template.
  • Most of my sites are simple.  The only two API's I really need to plug in to are Google Maps and Flickr, and I have tested and am comfortable with the available WordPress plugins for these.
  • I want to begin, carefully, to let some of my employees be able to add and edit some content (e.g. changing store hours).  I think the wordpress interface is pretty accessible to some folks who may be new to online content and gives me the amount of control I need as an editor.  For a noob content contributor, WordPress is far more accessible than other CMS's.
  • With a static site, I have an advantage over a blog in that I can turn on full site caching to speed up the site (via WP-super-cache).  I also added an SEO plugin to make my permalinks and pages more SEO friendly, something I don't care that much about on my blog.

I think that the first site came out pretty well, and I don't think its obvious that it is built on a blogging engine (site here, for our Arizona snow play area).  The biggest internal debate I had was whether to go with fixed or variable widths.  I actually went the opposite way of most modern programmers, moving from variable to fixed rather than vice versa.  Most of my customers, as shown by my server logs, have slow and dated computers and monitors, so I think fixed width makes sense. 

Yeah, I know that no one will ever consider me a l33t h4x0r for using WordPress, or even for using a CMS at all, but I was absolutely thrilled how fast the second site is going up now that I have built all the templates and functions I need.  More reports to come  (and hopefully this site will soon be on WordPress, but I am not holding my breath.  Still having trouble with brinking over the permalinks so they all work right).


  1. Xmas:

    I'm parsing your site as Snow Playaz. I'm expecting to see pics of the Icy Hot Stuntaz and their pimped out snowboards.

  2. David Z:

    My father has a business building websites, he uses WP exclusively as CMS. Seems to be working out well for him, the benefits, as you noted above, are the economies gained once you've set up your basic templates, and learned everything there is to know about CSS. From that point, changing the look and feel only requires some minor tweaks in a few places.

  3. bill-tb:

    I have used wordpress as you are. It works surprisingly well. But -- What I find is that for complex larger sites, especially those that store lots of information in some organized manner, the blog paradigm breaks down and the site becomes confusing to a user. I don't have anyway to characterize when that will happen, because it depends on many site and objective specific goals of the site design.

    So I would say, yes, if you want bigger and bigger, then I would say caution.

    While wordpress is quite versatile, it is not a do everything.

  4. Bruce Hall:

    There are many "template" oriented packages that can be used by the DIYers for developing reasonably functional websites. I recently built an website plus an internal integrated email and document distribution system for about 50 retired volunteers who are helping other retirees with the morass of medical health insurance. This was all accomplished in about 3 days using Google Apps.

    Additionally, I had maintained one of the most extensive and highly rated RV rental sites in the U.S. using Macromedia Dreamweaver... a developers tool.

    Most small businesses can get by with fairly simple tools such as WordPress, but for e-commerce and a higher level of security, you really need a professionally developed site... by people who are competent. I have two sons in that business and when you need to integrate databases and flash and e-commerce and have a well-done visual layout, you had better know what you are doing.

    We can all build a hunting shack on a dirt floor; we might have a bigger problem with a 4-bedroom home.

  5. Jay:

    WordPress rocks for making a site that looks like regular pages but flows consistently, with a blog page not the main page or there at all. I almost totally customized Welcome to Help along those lines. It's not even an odd choice. Some of what Expression Engine has done so well is what WP has added, to the point of comparability.

  6. stuart:

    If you're making a lot of wordpress based websites then go for wordpress mu and get donnacha's domain mapping plugin. It will allow you to run all your wp-blogs on just one install - each wp site can have its own domain.
    Keeping 20 wordpress installs updated with upgrades and patches will be a pain in the proverbial ;)

  7. m:

    Great choice! I also use WP after trying about 6 platforms. One thing you might consider is WP Multi-User. It makes administering multiple blogs in one WP installation possible. Definitely a huge help.

  8. colson:

    WP isn't a bad choice when you are doing smaller, brochure-style sites. I even tweaked it to serve as a local directory for people visiting our corporate campus. I will echo other commentor's sentiments that it does/will break down if the site is very content heavy and hierarchical in nature.

    Some of the content management systems get downright heavy and sluggish due to the complexity. I typically use WordPress for most sites and then anything requiring contact management, sales leads, etc, I will have it post to my vTiger installation

  9. project server solutions:

    Please tell me about content management tool more.