WordPress (23328)

Using WordPress as a CMS

Even though WordPress is typically known as a bloggers' platform, it's quickly becoming a viable content management system, also called a "CMS", competing with other popular platforms like Joomla and Drupal. WordPress' relatively simple layout is less likely to overwhelm new users, while allowing advanced users the ability to manipulate the dashboard area to act as a better, custom CMS. You don't necessarily need to know PHP to manipulate WordPress' dashboard either; there are many plug-ins that will help you make your WordPress site an easy-to-use CMS.

01. Easy Post Types

The Easy Post Types plug-in is suitable for creating custom post types without knowing much about the WordPress interface. Instead of downloading a plug-in for events, products, or real estate, you can use the Easy Post Types plug-in to create these WordPress sections for you. The new sections will show up in the side navigation, just like the posts, pages and links sections. This is ideal for website users that have never used WordPress and aren't familiar with "posts" or "pages," but understand what a custom section, such as "Dinner Menu Items," means.

Once you create the post type, you can use a simple PHP snippet to pull the information into your theme. The creators of Easy Post Types also have a clean website with fairly solid documentation.

Download the plugin at http://www.wpeasyposttypes.com

02. Hide Admin Panels

Hiding sections of the WordPress admin area is crucial for content management systems. Using the Hide Admin Panels plug-in, you can hide certain sections from individual users based on user name. This plug-in seems to work well, but users can access the sections if they know the direct path. Nevertheless, this plug-in is substantial for the average computer user.

Download the plugin at http://www.wpxpand.com/plugins/hide-admin-panels/

03. Admin Menu Editor

When a client needed to edit their "about" page, I needed a solution that would allow them to edit this single page without seeing the other pages. There are several solutions to do this, however, the Admin Menu Editor seemed to work best for me. Using the Admin Menu Editor, I was able to create a custom menu item called "About Page" and link it directly to the editor for the page. The client was never able to see the "pages" section.

The Admin Menu Editor also allows for adjusting menu item locations, so you are able to move the location of the posts, pages, links and any additional sections. This plug-in was a little confusing at first, but a little experimenting opened new doors to editing the WordPress backend.

Download the plug-in at http://w-shadow.com/blog/2008/12/20/admin-menu-editor-for-wordpress/

04. WordPress Admin Bar

If you have ever used WordPress.com, you have seen the admin bar that appears on the top of your website. The WordPress Admin Bar plug-in offers this same feature for your self-hosted WordPress site. For your CMS users, the WordPress Admin Bar simplifies the editing process. Accessing the WordPress dashboard can be confusing for new users, especially if there is no way to edit the site from the frontend. This plug-in omits this issue altogether. You can also hide certain sections from showing up on the frontend admin bar, similar to the Hide Admin Panels plug-in.

Download the plug-in at http://www.viper007bond.com/wordpress-plugins/wordpress-admin-bar/

05. Adminimize

You can eliminate most users from accessing the WordPress backend using the Adminimize plug-in. It allows you to minimize user options based on roles. You simply check the areas you want to hide from the particular role, making this an easier option compared to some of the other similar plug-ins, such as Role Scoper. However, from experience, Adminimize doesn't play well with some of the other plug-ins, so be careful combining Adminimize with similar plug-ins.

You can download the plugin at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/adminimize/

So Many Great Plug-Ins!

New plug-ins are coming out every day, so scour the "extend" section of WordPress to see the hottest new plug-ins. Always check out the star ratings and the actual number of people who rated the plug-in. Generally, if over 50 people have given a great rating on a plug-in, it's worth checking out. If it has less than three stars, it's probably a good idea to ignore it.

If you know of any great CMS-assisting plug-ins for WordPress, let me know by leaving a comment!