Donna Fontenot

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Using WordPress As A Traditional CMS

Using WordPress As A Traditional CMS

People often want to create a site that doesn’t look like a blog. Usually, if you ask them enough questions, you’ll find that they want to have a site that mostly consists of “static” pages (content which doesn’t change very often). They want a home page that isn’t a list of reverse chronological, ever-changing blog posts. They probably want to include a blog as a subsection of the site, but not have it be the focal point of the site.

These people usually either create static HTML sites (difficult to manage), or they use a traditional CMS application. A CMS allows them to dynamically generate and manage “static” (or rarely-changing) content. They usually don’t consider using WordPress to create and manage these types of sites. Because WordPress has its roots as a blogging tool, it can easily be overlooked as excellent way to manage content of any sort. Don’t be fooled by its normal use as a blog-centric content manager. Content is content, and WordPress rocks as an easy way to manage content.

It only takes a few additional steps to rid WordPress of its blog-centric roots and use it as a “traditional” CMS. The key is to use Pages for most of the site (the “static” part) and Posts just for the blog subsection of the site. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Install WordPress. Either follow the WordPress Installation Guide or use EasyWP WordPress Installer.
  2. Set up pretty permalinks so your pages URLs will look like yoursite.com/blue-widgets/ instead of yoursite.com/?p=1234. I recommend using the Custom structure: /%postname%/. Most people will be able to make this happen with no extra effort, but some web hosts and servers require special instructions to enable pretty permalinks.
  3. Create a new PAGE called Home. Add all the content that you wish to have on the home page. Publish.
  4. Create a new PAGE called Blog or News or Articles or whatever you want to call the interior section you’ll use for dated posts. Do NOT add any content to this page. Leave it blank. Also: Do NOT choose a custom page template for this page. WordPress will understand (in the next step) that it should automatically use the standard blog, sorted-by-date listing of posts type of template.*
  5. Go to Settings / Reading and set the page you created and called Home as the front page. Then set the page you created and called Blog or News as the posts page. more info…
  6. Most WordPress themes make the assumption that comments on pages are undesirable, so the page template does not include the comments code. This is my preference as well, and I recommend that you not allow comments on pages (but of course, I believe comments on posts are usually essential). If that’s also your preference, and if your theme does not show a comments form on your pages, then you can skip this step.

    However, if your theme does include comments on pages, and you’d rather not mess with the code, you can turn off comments for pages completely, regardless of how the theme is coded. There’s no direct way to turn off comments just for all pages. If you uncheck “Allow people to post comments on the article” in the Settings / Discussion panel, you’ll be turning off comments on both Pages and Posts, which is usually not desirable. Instead, you can turn off comments one at a time for each page when you create or edit each one, but there’s a good chance you’ll forget to do that on one or more pages. I prefer to use a plugin to handle the problem with ease, so it can be just a “set it and forget it” type of action. To do that, I suggest useing the Use No Comments on Pages plugin to turn off comments on pages.

  7. Ever since WordPress 3.0, its new menu system lets you drag and drop the items you want in your menus in whatever order you want them to appear in. It’s easy and smooth, but your theme has to support it. Old themes may not, so be sure to look for a theme that says it supports WordPress’ 3.0 menus.
  8. That pretty much concludes the setup. Now all you have to do is add a new PAGE every time you want to create a new “static” page on the site, and add a new POST every time you want to create a new dated post in the Blog or News section.

* Themes often include a Home link in the header menu. If so, you may need to edit the header file (or whichever file contains the menu) to delete it, or you’ll end up with two Home links in your menu. First look for any link that has the anchor text (link text) of “Home”. It may look something like this:

<a href=”<?php echo get_option(‘home’); ?>/”>Home </a>”

When you find it, just delete it, and you’re done.


Note 1: If you want to read more information about the concept of Pages and Subpages vs. Posts, go here.


Note 2: Look for plugins to easily additional functionality, such as shopping carts.

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