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10 Great Sites That Use WordPress as a CMS

Sometimes you can look at a website and not even know that it’s a blog or a site built with blogging software. Because users can extend the WordPress software to function as so much more than just a blog, people refer to WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) rather than merely a blogging platform.

Harvard Gazette

The Harvard Gazette, on first glance, looks like an online magazine of articles, resources, and information. Dig a little deeper and you find that it’s a website rich in multimedia offerings, such as videos and photography. All these additions provide a beautiful accent to the written content.

Included in the Harvard Gazette website is an extensive calendar of events that is updated routinely and offers the visitor a glimpse into the types of events — giving visitors the ability to add the event to their own calendars with applications from Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Apple iCal, and more.

If you take away one idea from this site, it’s the use of category archiving coupled with fully customizing the different category templates. This touch creates an interesting and clean browsing experience.

IconDock

IconDock is a website created by the folks from N.Design Studio and is a perfect example of using WordPress as an online shop. IconDock has a fully functional and easy-to-navigate e-commerce shop where visitors can purchase high-quality designed icons and graphics.

If you use one good idea from IconDock, make it the site’s smart use of a great WordPress plugin to power its online shop. The plugin is called WP e-Commerce. You can install the plugin on any WordPress-powered website, and you immediately have a state-of-the-art e-commerce platform that allows you to host a full-featured shopping cart. Very professional! The possibilities of this plugin are endless.

Mosaic Consulting, Inc.

Mosaic Consulting is a small legal IT consulting company whose work spans the globe. Mosaic chose WordPress as a CMS because of the software’s flexibility and extensibility.

The company doesn’t run a blog on its site. Instead, it offers an unlimited number of static pages on the site — pages that someone created without ever having to touch a piece of the underlying code in the theme (that’s the WordPress way).

The site also uses WordPress categories and subcategories in a nice, dynamic navigation menu that takes visitors through the various sections of the site. The different layouts for individual pages and categories are accomplished through use of custom page and category templates within the WordPress theme.

CSS Collection

CSS Collection is a showcase site powered by WordPress. The purpose of the site is to showcase what people can do with Cascading Style Sheets when building websites and blogs.

Here are a few of the site’s features:

  • Thumbnails: The front page includes thumbnail images of highlighted sites. Click a thumbnail to visit the website. The thumbnailing is accomplished through the image handler in WordPress, along with some custom coding done with the Custom Fields tool.

  • Submit your own: CSS Collection allows anyone to submit a site to its gallery through a handy form on the submission page.

CSS Collection also makes good use of the typical blog layout and functions that you’re used to seeing with WordPress. But the blog is not the primary part of the site. Rather, the site keeps a news section active with announcements and updates, using the old-fashioned blog layout that you’ve come to expect with WordPress. It uses RSS and Categories extensively to accomplish these goals.

Not Your Average Joe’s

Not Your Average Joe’s is a restaurant chain with locations in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. The restaurant uses the WordPress Multisite feature to create a full network of sites that spotlights all of its different locations. Each location has a unique site, blog, menu listing, reservation system, and more. For example, have a look at the main site for the restaurant chain, along with the Acton location site. You can see that the theme is similar on the main site and location sites, but the content changes. Each location manager has her own login and access to the location she manages and can maintain the content there independently.

Streamy Awards

In case you’ve ever found yourself wondering “Hmm, do they have an awards program for online web television programming?” — well, yes, they do! The Streamy Awards is a website and organization dedicated to honoring excellence in the field of original web television programming.

This organization is no joke, either. Past winners include industry greats such as Felicia Day, Joss Whedon, William Shatner, Rosario Dawson, Alex Albrecht, Zadi Diaz, Jane Espenson, Neil Patrick Harris, Paul Rudd, and Ronald D. Moore.

The Streamy Awards website, powered by WordPress, of course, mixes up traditional written content with multimedia offerings such as videos and a live streaming of its annual Streamy Awards show, available on demand. Visitors to the Streamy Awards website can participate in some of the following activities:

  • Vote for the Audience Choice award for your favorite online television programming.

  • Watch videos from last year’s event, including acceptance speeches, photo montages, and more.

  • View or download Streamy media to various mobile devices (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android).

  • Connect with Streamy through Facebook and Twitter.

MommyCast

MommyCast lives in the genre of mommy blogs — blogs owned and maintained by mothers. But MommyCast takes that concept quite a bit further through its radio program. MommyCast.com is a unique online audio company by and for women who are immersed in the fullness of motherhood and life; the site’s motto is “Holding the world together, one child at a time.” MommyCast offers interviews with people on topics that encompass all things having to do with motherhood.

Joelle Reeder of Moxie Design Studios, the design brain behind the MommyCast brand, had this to say about the decision to use WordPress as the CMS for the project: “The MommyCast show has sponsors who use WordPress, so it was a natural choice for them to go in the same direction. The people behind the project also have used WordPress in the past and were very familiar with the platform.”

Joelle also implemented a really neat way to bring some visual vitality to each post through image thumbnailing, combined with Custom Fields, that lets them insert small images into each post that calls attention to not only the post but also the post topic. These Custom Fields are called callouts, and they draw the eye in and make you pay attention.

Mendocino Beauty

This website is a professional business website for the beauty and skincare studio, Mendocino Beauty. Powered by WordPress, the site contains a blog. However, the blog isn’t front and center as you see with a lot of WordPress installations. Instead, you’re met with a beautifully designed front page that invites you into its site by providing you with navigation links to the different areas and offerings.

If you take away anything from this site, make it the use of its Look Book — a full photo gallery powered by a nifty WordPress plugin called NextGEN Gallery by plugin author Alex Rabe. The plugin was developed for the WordPress platform, and it allows you to create an unlimited number of photo albums and galleries for your website. You can check out, and download, the NextGEN Gallery in the official WordPress Plugin Directory.

John James Jacoby

John James Jacoby is one of two core developers on the BuddyPress team. He is a specialist in new media development and design, and he runs a very simple but elegant online portfolio with WordPress. This website doesn’t contain a blog. What you will find is a gallery of work and projects that he has been directly involved with.

Additionally, you will find a few static pages that John uses to publish a short bio, information about his rates, and an explanation of the services he offers.

WebDevStudios

WebDevStudios is the website of the VIP WordPress consultants, in addition to being the studio co-owned by yours truly. The WebDevStudios site is also a pretty stunning example of what you can do with the Twenty Ten WordPress theme.

Features and design elements that really stick out as you browse through its website include the following:

  • The navigation menu: Just one look at its navigation menu isn’t enough. Hover your mouse pointer over some of the links to see the hard work that went into building a rich navigation experience for visitors. The menu is enormous, yet very clean, easy to read, and easy to navigate.

  • A featured content slideshow: At the top of the front page, underneath the logo and menu, WebDevStudios displays some of its more prominent content wrapped in a dynamic slideshow via the WP Nivo Slider plugin, which you can find in the Plugin Directory at http://wordpress.org/ plugins/wp-nivo-slider. This slideshow brings your most treasured content front and center to share with your visitors.

  • Social media integration: WebDevStudios integrates its Twitter account prominently by posting its most recent tweets from the WebDevStudios Twitter page. Additionally, you can easily find WebDevStudios on other social networks, such as Facebook and Flickr, through the use of social media icons found firmly planted at the top-left corner of every page of its website.

  • A static front page with internal blog: If you’re interested in using a static page as the front page of your website and including a blog as part of an internal section, rather than the main page, check out the WebDevStudios site for a solid example of this technique in practice.

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