by Kevin D. Hendricks
Why you’d want to use WordPress as a CMS should be pretty obvious: It’s free, it’s easy and it packs a lot of punch.
You can do quite a bit with a web site powered by WordPress. So let’s do it.
WordPress can manage several types of content for you, including Posts, Pages and Links.
- Posts are your basic time-driven content and are used for standard blog entries.
- Pages are basically posts that aren’t time-driven—they’re added to the menu and serve as the basic meat of your site.
- Links are just that—links. This can be handy for a list of recommended services or helpful sites.
Make the Big Decisions
Before diving in you need to sit down and make some big decisions. If you don’t think things through now, you may end up regretting it later. The biggest thing to figure out is what you actually need your web site to do. What kind of content do you need to manage?
- Do you need posts? (Maybe you don’t need one of those fancy blogs, but do you need a news section?)
- How many pages do you need?
- Will those pages have a hierarchy? (Do you just have five pages, or do you have a dozen pages where some will be filed under others?)
- What do you want to feature on the homepage? (This could be basic intro text that doesn’t change or it could be your latest news or it could be highlights from within your site)
These are the kinds of questions you need to answer. Basically you’re trying to figure out what you need from your web site. Once you have that sorted out, it’s easier to find a theme that offers what you need.
Pick a Theme (Or Have One Designed for You)
Once you know what you need it’s time to pick a theme that can meet those needs. While it’d be ideal to find a theme that works perfectly, keep in mind that it’s pretty easy to switch themes. So don’t stress out over finding the perfect theme. It’s OK to try out a few different themes and see which one fits better.
Here are a few things to consider as you pick a theme:
- How is the menu handled? Will it easily display the number of pages you need or handle the hierarchy your site will require? If you’ve got a fair amount of hierarchy a dropdown menu might be a must.
- Is what’s front and center on the theme’s homepage what you want front and center on your homepage?
- Is your theme widget ready? If so you can pop sidebar items in and out with ease. If not, it gets trickier (test a theme to make sure it’s actually widget ready—some themes, especially free ones, say they’re widget ready when they’re not).
Put Your Site Together
Once you’ve picked and installed a theme, it’s time to build your site.
- Basic details like your site’s name and tagline can be added under Settings.
- Go to Write: Page (or Write a New Page from the Dashboard) to start adding pages to your site. While editing a page look under Advanced Options for Page Parent and Page Order to change the hierarchy and order of your pages.
- If you’re using a blog (or a news section) go to Write: Post (or Write a New Post from the Dashboard) to start populating your site with content.
- Under Design: Widgets you can customize the sidebar or feature areas of your theme.
Keep it Maintained
Once your site is up and running you just have to keep it going. Update your news or blog frequently, change out features or highlights and keep your static content up to date.
Updates are a breeze, thanks to WordPress, which means you can spend more time on your content and less time pretending to be a techie.