THE RKGBLOG

Tips For Using WordPress As A Content Management System (CMS)

Back in December ’06, we posted on out plans to move our entire corporate site to WordPress during January.

Well, we got busy with a bunch of great projects for clients and so neglected our own site for most of 2007 (the proverbial “cobbler’s kids have no shoes”). We finally made time to relaunch our site, and did so in October.

Overall, we’re really pleased.

Our new site is much more flexible, SEO-friendly, and much much much (yes, that’s triple-much) easier to maintain.

We’d recommend the CMS approach to others.

Here’s the scope document from December, with current annotations:

  • We will replace our entire current “brochure-ware” site, rimmkaufman.com, with WordPress. Our home-brew Mason and Catalyst layers will go away. Done. Our IT gang is quite happy to see Catalyst code depart.
  • The new site shouldn’t look like a blog. Done.
  • We will be able to post speaking events, and have the site manage events rolling from “coming to soon” to “recently happened”. Done.
  • We will be able post articles, embargoed from public view until their print publication date, at which point they’ll automatically appear on the site. Done.
  • We will add a usable site search. Done.
  • We will not break any existing links into the site. Nope. We busted scads of links and are busy remapping them all to preserve SEO and inbound traffic. This is a big deal, and lots of work, and we’ll address best practices for remapping site URLs in a subsequent post.
  • We will let readers comment on articles. Done. Critical to install in anti-blog-spam plugins like Akismet.
  • We will support tagging, both on-site tags and technorati tags. Done, but not yet visible. Soon.
  • We will tweak the site information architecture, and make the site more SEO-friendly. Done.
  • We will maintain the current look-and-feel and CSS: this is a migration, not a design change. Nope — we changed the whole design, look-and-feel, url structure, the works. This scope creep is part of what slowed us down.
  • We will not change our company blog (rkgblog.com) at all.
    Nope. We opted to roll the new design out to the blog as well, with an integrated top and bottom nav.

At first, we were only intending to re-platform, but we changed our minds and went with a new design as well.

We hired a local designer, Debra Weiss (drwdesign), to help us with a look. Deb delivered a test site in flat HTML, which our team generalized and then ported into a WordPress template. Deb did good work, quickly, for a fair price, delivering more than we expected.

It took us a few cycles of design rounds with Debra to reach a look we liked, and those cycles took a few calendar weeks given other projects here.

It then took us about a day to craft the WordPress templates.

Additional custom coding took about a week — upcoming talks, bread crumbs, common header for site and blog, etc.

Here’s a list of plugins we’re running on the site, sorted alphabetically, with our sense of their importance marked with gold stars.

  • AbsoluteRSS

    Adjusts the links in RSS to use absolute links so that they work correctly in all feed readers.

  • Akismetgold stargold star

    Essential spam fighting tool.

  • Breadcrumbgold star

    This formed the base of our breadcrumbs, which we had to hack a bit to accommodate the blog.

  • Code Markup

    Lets you display code, without HTML and WP mangling the special characters.

  • Disable autopgold star

    Disables the “wpautop” function for your posts, allowing you to use straight XHTML without it getting modified. We opted to use pure HTML for our posts and pages, avoiding the “convenience” of wordpress shortcuts.

  • Disable Visual Editor

    WYSIWYG sounds great in theory, but stinks in practice. We found it quicker to disable autop and the visual editor. The visual editor caused so much grief we even gutted tinymce from the WordPress install completely.

  • Filosofo Old-Style Upload

    We find the old upload tab more convenient at times than the new bottom-of-the-post uploader.

  • Get Custom Field Valuesgold star

    We use custom fields heavily, and this plugin lets you easily retrieve and control the display of any custom field values/meta data for posts, inside or outside “the loop”.

  • Head Meta

    Sometimes you need put something custom in the head of a specific post or page, like a special style sheet or a no-index tag.

  • Hello Dolly

    Just fun.

  • RKG Page Permalinks

    This is a custom plugin that changes “/index.php?page_id=\d+” links into permalinks in posts.

  • Safe Includegold stargold stargold star

    Super critical. This allowed us to create little function procedures, insulating authors from code, and offering more security than executing PHP within posts. Highly recommended. (See next post in this series for code samples and additional discussion of using SafeInclude.)

  • SEO Title Taggold star

    A great little plug-in from our friends at NetConcepts, letting you get good title and meta tags on pages and posts. Plays well with Ultimate Tag Warrior.

  • Simple Trackback Validation

    Reduces trackback spam by retrieving the web page located at the URL used in the trackback and checking if the page contains a link to your blog: if not, the trackback needs to be moderated and is not being published.

  • Static Front Page

    Fixes the homepage URL.

  • Ultimate Tag Warrior

    Allows tagging, many ways.

  • Ultimate Tag Warrior: Tag Archive

    Part of UTW.

More to come on Safe Include in a following post.

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
  • Comments
    10 Responses to “Tips For Using WordPress As A Content Management System (CMS)”
    1. Raj Gajwani says:

      Alan, I checked out your site after a long hiatus, and I’m quite impressed with the new look. Great job!

      We also use WordPress for our blog, and it’s great for managing blog content. The best part is wide third-party developer support, so there’s almost always a plugin available to do whatever you want. I suspect that WordPress will continue to creep up on traditional CMS solutions, Innovator’s Dilemma style, in the coming years.

    2. Thanks for the compliment, Raj! We’re going to try and post relevant code snippets to possible help others hiking down the same path in the future. THere’s another post on all this today:
      http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2007/12/10/wordpress-cms-tips/
      Cheers
      Alan

    3. Jack Page says:

      WordPress will definitely become a better CMS style solution over time. I almost made the mistake of using something other than wordpress for one of my websites and soon came to the conclusion that WordPress can do everything I need it to do with the addition of plugins. I just wish the admin area was a little more cleaner and organized when it comes to using pages, especially if you need to use a lot of pages in addition to blog posts like say, for bios or something.

    4. manele says:

      Ultimate tag warrior is one of my favorites plugin! too too great!

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