How to Use WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System)

NOTE! This article was written in 2006 and is out of date. Many of the techniques described below have already been integrated into WP’s core functionality. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to hire me for WordPress consulting.

This article will attempt to explain to users how they can mod the popular, open-source blogging software WordPress so that it can be used for a complete Content Management System. This article assumes that you have working knowledge of how to Install WordPress (2.0 or better), some basic PHP knowledge, know how to write CSS/XHTML, and add plugins to WordPress. Enjoy:

  1. Download and Install WordPress. Complete instructions can be found on the WordPress site.
  2. Download the following plugins:
    • Filosofo Home Page Control. Allows you to change the default homepage for your WordPress install, in case you don’t want your blog as your default WP homepage.
    • Sidebar Tile Plugin. Allows you to edit your sidebar through the WP Manage > Pages tab in the WordPress Admin section of your website.
    • Improved Include Page. Allows you to call one page from another, very useful for an introduction on the homepage.
    • Secure Form Mailer. A very good contact form plugin for WordPress.
    • Search Pages. Extends WP’s search functionality to search through pages, not just posts in the blog.
  3. Install the Filosofo Homepage Control plugin.
    1. Using your chosen FTP software, upload the filosofo-home-page-control.php file into your WordPress plugins directory.
    2. Login to your WordPress Admin and activate the plugin by clicking the Plugins tab.
    3. In the WordPress Admin main navigation, click Options and then Permalinks.
    4. Choose “Date and Name based” from the selection of radio buttons.
    5. Click Options » Home-Page Control
    6. Using the dropdown menu on that page, choose the page you would like to serve as your homepage.
    7. In the text field below, set the virtual “folder” directory for where you want your blog to reside (as it will no longer reside in the root path of WordPress, you might want to enter “blog” here. Remember though, do not actually create a real directory on your web server, just type the name in here and WordPress will virtually create it.)
    8. Click Options » Permalinks
  4. Install the Sidebar Tile Plugin
    1. Upload the sem-tile-sidebar.php file into your WordPress plugins directory.
    2. Login to your WordPress Admin and activate the plugin by clicking the Plugins tab.
    3. Add the following code to your sidebar:
      <?php the_sidebar_tile(); ?>
    4. Click Write > Pages in the WordPress Admin.
    5. Create a page called Sidebar.
    6. Anything you put in this page will now appear in your sidebar. Of course, you’ll still see any information that is listed in your sidebar template, such as Search, Archives lists, etc.
  5. Install the Dagon Design Contact Form
    1. This process can be quite involved, but this is an excellent plugin for deterring SPAM. Complete instructions on how to install this plugin can be found at the Dagon Design site.
  6. Install the Search Pages Plugin

    If you’re going to use WordPress as a CMS, then you’ll probably be emphasizing the site’s pages as much as, if not more than, your blog.

    1. Upload the search_pages.php file to your Plugins directory.
    2. Activate the plugin.

Of course, you’ll still have quite a bit more work to do to customize the site to your liking, such as finding or creating the right theme to suit your content, and you’ll probably also want to create some type of navigation aside from the simple pages list that WordPress comes with by default. Luckily for you, there are lots of people out there who are willing to help (sometimes in exchange for money, sometimes not).

Oh, and I just so happen to be one of the former, so feel free to contact me if you have a project you’re looking to have completed!

Up Next: Coming of Age in a City Uninhibited by Disdain for Personal Boundaries