WordPress is the Buzzword
In 2011 I switched to using WordPress as my main Content Management System (CMS) and blogging solution for clients and to put it bluntly I have never looked back. Why might you ask? Well here are a few small reasons. It’s open source (which means its free!!), easy to install and use (with a little bit of PHP knowledge), has a comprehensive online manual AKA (WordPress Codex) and best of all has loads of amazing plugins.
If you are a newcomer to the WordPress world and a little bit scared of custom theme development I recommend either purchasing “How to be a Rockstar WordPress Designer” from Rockable Press or become a premium member on Tutsplus and download the screen cast bundles from Nettuts and Wptuts
Personally, I think the most confusing aspect to WordPress is the fact that it uses absolute file paths. Not that that concept is hard to get your head around if you are an experienced developer but it is more to do with the file structure and navigating your way around the template folders. I should also point out that template pages are formulated by calling in separate files. They typically include header, footer, actual page and sidebar(optional). If you have used a few other CMS’s and have sound HTML/CSS skills mixed with a little bit of patience I am sure you will become a WordPress superstar in no time
The power of WordPress plugins
If you haven’t really used WordPress before you are probably thinking what on earth is a plugin. Well don’t worry that is exactly what I thought when I first started. To put it simply, a plugin is a script that you can download and install to add onto the functionality of your website. So what does this mean? Well, as a developer you will find that plugins drastically reduce your development time as they are pre-configured, therefore not much (if any) coding is required. Most plugins also include an array of configuration options as well so you can adjust the functionality through a control panel interface rather then hacking at code.
The following are a few of my top picks but feel free to comment and help me add to the list.
1. Custom Post Templates – Visit the Plugin Page
This plugin is useful for when you want to have a library of different page templates. For example if you have a client that wants the ability to control whether or not an the internal page on their website has a sidebar. Well your answer is Custom Post Templates. It allows an editor to choose the preferred template for an individual page or post via the admin screen.
2. Duplicate Posts – Visit the Plugin Page
Another one of my favourites. This plugin allows an editor to create a draft copy of a post (or page). I find it particularly useful for client sites as helps keep the formatting and layout consistent between pages.
3. Secondary HTML Content – Visit the Plugin Page
Having the ability to create multiple content areas on a single page is a must for me so as you can imagine I was stoked to find this plugin. The minor drawback however is that the additional content zones don’t have “Upload/Insert” media buttons so you therefore have to upload assets using the uppermost content zone.
4. Tiny MCE Advanced – Visit the Plugin Page
Tiny MCE Advanced basically adds more buttons onto the WSYWIG toolbar. I primarily install this plugin to give my clients the option to insert a table into a content zone. Yes, sadly table buttons do not come standard with the default WordPress WSYWIG toolbar.
5. Portfolio Slideshow – Visit the Plugin Page
The Portfolio Slideshow plugin is brilliant to say the least. If you want a gallery with an endless amount of configuration options then look no further. It has been built using the jQuery framework so it can therefore be viewed on all devices. You can customise the Portfolio Slideshow plugin from the ground up by including/excluding thumbnails and titles, changing transitional effects; and adjusting navigation options and timing. It is simple, powerful and a very effective way for editors to modify/create their own image galleries on any page or post. I have this plugin installed and in use on my own website as well as Shack Homewares and Sydney Sheds.