WordPress has far surpassed its anticipated use as a blogging platform as many website owners have been using it for non-blog websites. And it’s not surprising that so many are turning to WordPress, even if they don’t blog. There are a lot of attractive benefits for the average website owner who wants to use WordPress for their non-blog site, including the ability to:
- Avoid the cost of a custom design
- Add or modify content and pages without having any coding experience
- Incorporate photos and graphics easily, while being able to modify the size and placement
- Bypass the need for a standalone FTP program
- Change the theme easily
- Use plugins that make advanced functionality easy
It’s not always as simple as installing WordPress and putting your site online, though. I’ve seen a number of those sites that seem to be almost there but are missing a few major changes that would more effectively transition WordPress into the framework for a well-organized static website.
Whether you’re creating a non-blog WordPress site for your own use, or if a client asks for help in getting one set up, here are some of my tips for getting started.
Pick a Good Theme
There are a lot of excellent WordPress themes, but not all are good for non-blog sites. For example, you may not want your content organized by date, or showing multiple excerpts at a time. So you’ll have to do some exploring to find a good non-blog theme for your purposes. Typically a magazine-like theme is a good way to go. You can check a few out on this post, 5 Best Non-Blog WordPress Themes.
Use Pages, Not Posts
Actually, you could probably go either way when it comes to pages vs. posts, although I prefer pages. Pages and posts basically do the same thing on a non-blog WordPress site, but if you end up using both, you may be creating a navigational mess. My suggestion is to pick one or the other (and there are benefits to going in either direction), and then stick with it for all of your content.
Set a Static Front Page
If you’ve chosen to use pages, you will also want to set your site to display a static front page — your homepage. To do this, create the page you want to designate as Home, then go to Settings > Reading. Select the “static page” radio button and pick your chosen page from the dropdown menu.
Get Your Hands Into the Code
Even if you select the perfect non-blog theme, you will have to do some code tweaking to remove some of the blog-centered content and references. For example, even if you turn commenting capability off and still use posts, most themes will still show a “No Comments” line. You will probably also want to remove the RSS subscription option and some of the information in the sidebar that is irrelevant on a non-blog site.
Get Picky with Plugins
There are many different plugins that can make the transition of WordPress from blog to non-blog easy. For example, HeadSpace lets you easily manage meta-data and various SEO tasks through one interface. And Flutter is a plugin that creates custom write panels that can be fully customized (radio buttons, file uploads, image uploads, checkboxes, etc).
You can find more tips on using WordPress for a non-blog site through these links:
- 5 Tips for Using WordPress for Non-Blog Sites
- 10 WordPress Tips to Make Your Blog Look Like a Website (for Beginners)
- WordPress Support
If you want to take this even further, you can hack it into a fully functional CMS. Check out the SitePoint forums for more on using WordPress as a CMS.