Use WordPress as a Content Management System - dummies

Use WordPress as a Content Management System

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

A term that you’ll hear regularly in the WordPress community is the term CMS, which stands for content management system. Whether you run a blog, a website, or both, you use WordPress to manage your content by publishing and editing it regularly.

When WordPress was first released in 2003, it became well known, worldwide, as the most popular blogging platform available on the web. That is still the case; however, as WordPress development has evolved over the years, it has grown from a blogging platform into a full-featured content management system that allows you to publish all sorts of content types to the web with very little technical ability or skill.

Because you install WordPress on your web server, and you access the back-end controls — the Dashboard — via a web address, it’s considered a web-based content management system.

You may be asking yourself how a blogging platform, which allows you to publish content on the web, differs from a web-based content management system. The two seem to be interchangeable, and some say it’s just a matter of semantics. You’ll find that in the WordPress community, content management system refers to the ability to easily publish different types of content using one installation of WordPress.

More than just a blog, you can build and design a website that includes different content types, including (but not limited to)

  • E-commerce: Host a store, or marketplace, to sell your products and services directly on your website. IconDock is a great example of WordPress being used as an e-commerce online store.


  • Photo gallery or portfolio: Create and publish photo galleries or an online portfolio of design work, creative pieces, or photography, for example.

  • Discussion forum: Host a forum on your website where visitors can create new and respond to existing threads of conversation with other site visitors, based around topics of shared interest.

  • Social community: Create an integrated social community on your WordPress site that allows visitors to create profiles, groups, and forums, enabling them to interact with other visitors on your domain.

  • Small business: Create an entire website for your business that includes static pages for content that doesn’t change all that often (FAQ pages, terms of service, and sales pages, for example). You can decide to have a blog on your business site, or no blog at all — WordPress lets you do both.

  • Forms: Create and include forms on your website to allow your visitors to get in touch with you directly from the pages on your domain. You can use forms as e-mail communication tools or sales tools, or to conduct surveys to gather feedback from your readers and/or clients.

  • Social media integration: Gather the content that you publish on other networks like Facebook or Twitter and integrate it into your website using different techniques and plugins available for WordPress.

The preceding list is just a sampling of the different types of content that you can publish and manage using WordPress as a CMS rather than as a blogging platform only.

To include these different content types on your website, in some cases — such as with e-commerce and social communities — you need to install special plugins, or scripts, that extend the feature set of WordPress software. And in certain cases like discussion forums and photo galleries, you need to account for these different content types in your WordPress theme design as well, through the use of template tags, CSS, and HTML.