Every time I set up a new site with WordPress I love it more. I’m continually amazed at how flexible and well-designed it is. Many people still think of WP as a “blogging” platform, which it is of course, but it’s really more appropriately termed a content management system (CMS). I simply wouldn’t consider setting up a site these days and not run it on WordPress, unless it were a really special circumstance.
Don’t get boxed in
It’s easy to get boxed in by the way most WP sites are set up, and think that WP is not the right solution for a site because it’s not a blog. I have found, however, that the best way to approach a site, is to decide how you want to present the content and then figure out how to make WordPress do it. It is so flexible, and there are so many plugins, hacks and specialized themes for managing content that I have yet to work on a site I didn’t think it was the best solution for.
First design the car, then put the engine inside
The best way to approach a site you’re going to run with WP is to first decide how you want the site to look and function and then figure out how best use WP to drive it. For example, with our new site My Social Buttons, Char and I weren’t intending it to be a blog. (We happened to put a blog on there after the fact, but that was really secondary.) We just wanted a site that would have pages with different categories of social media graphics, that linked back to the designer of each set. The solution ended up being a combination of custom fields and some fancy if/then logic to hook everything together managing the content in the most efficient way. I also had to figure out how to have the blog posts look like a regular blog and the posts with icons and graphics remain as they were.
Don’t let limited experience limit your design
One important thing I want you to know: I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff before this site. I used to think that people who did fancy and unusual things were PHP and WordPress experts. Some of them are, but the truth is that many developers are just like me, learning one thing at a time, solving one problem at a time with the help of support forums, the many helpful bloggers out there who post what they’re learning, and my friend Google. Become familiar with what is possible with WordPress, then figure out the solutions as you go. If you’re trying to do it, chances are someone else has done the same thing in the past and written a post about it on their blog, or posted a question in the support forum.