WordPress for websites?

Las Vegas WordCamp logo tattoo, from vgsgeekOver the last few weeks I’ve spent some time under the hood of WordPress. I’m making some final adjustments to the updated theme on my blog. As I dig deeper, the more convinced I become about how suitable WordPress web publishing software is for running not just blogs but websites too.

The WordPress platform is now up to the 14th release (version 3.1). The constant refinements show, particularly in terms of ease of use. For instance, the old version of WordPress I’m using requires extra plugins to handle embedded media, such as slideshows or video. Now this feature is built in.

The range plugins to alter the way WordPress can be used grows daily. Membership, ecommerce,  are just two examples. You can even use a plugin to turn any WordPress post, page or site into a fully functional wiki.

Being able to customise the layout of individual pages using widgets and templates makes it easy to include information relevant to individual pages or sections.

Usability is another big plus factor. Compared with other content management systems I’ve used, I find the WordPress administration a joy to use. It’s clean and easy to find just what you need.

I shouldn’t be in any doubt about WordPress’s suitability for websites. When I talked to Jason King at the Connecting Up Australia conference in Brisbane in 2008, he trumpeted the virtues of WordPress for nonprofit websites. (If you’re interested in his list of pros, he captures this succinctly in his presentation “Using WordPress to power your non-profit website”.)

Of course, WordPress doesn’t do everything, as Pearl Bear at Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology recently pointed out. Comparing WordPress vs. Drupal …. the fight!, she says the former is well suited for blogs, community blogs and simple brochureware websites. It’s a toss-up between the two for medium or large websites with lots of content, but relatively simple organization, and community blogs with many authors and identified, authenticated users. On the other hand Drupal is suited to large community sites content created in lots of formats, (eg blogs, wikis, media releases, etc.); complex, document-heavy library sites, or sites that need document management; sites with deep integrations to CRM platforms and web services; and sites where you need to present and reuse multiple content types.

If you’re really serious about evaluating different options, you might like to take a look at the 82 page “2010 Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone” report from Idealware. As well as information on specific platforms there’s you’ll find useful guidance on making decisions.

Even though I’m won over by the quality and flexibility of WordPress, I’d still recommend any web project start with an organisation determining it needs and goals, and only then selecting what the technology that best fits. For my blog, I’m 100% happy with WordPress.

Photo credit: vgsgeek

New Zealand community organisations WordPress websites – a short list

At the moment I’m far more aware of community organisations in New Zealand using Drupal, rather than WordPress. I’m sure to have missed a few, but some of the ones I know about include :

Do you know of any others?