Its been quite a few years since WordPress was “just another blogging platform”. Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress & Drupal have greatly simplified the process of building and maintaining your own website. Here are our top 5 tips for getting your “wordpress blog” to look and act like a traditional website.
Unfortunately, People do judge a book by its cover.
This might be obvious to some, but the most effective way to get your newly installed WordPress site looking like a traditional website is to change the default settings so that the homepage is static Page and not a list of your latest Posts.
This can be easily accomplished from the backend of your WordPress installation by first going to Pages > Add New and creating two new pages (Home, Blog). Then go to Setting > Reading and just set the ‘Front page displays’ setting to ‘A static page’ select the two pages you’ve created. Now the static ‘Home’ page you created will be on the homepage of your site and not a list of your latest posts.
Add a Navbar
Another way to help your WP installation look more like a traditional website is the addition of a navigational menu at the top of the site. Fortunately, many WordPress themes already have this functionality built-in. The best way to see if your theme supports menus is to go to the Appearance > Menus, if you don’t see a message at the top that says “current theme does not natively support menus” then follow the directions below… if you do see the message, then you might think about hiring a WordPress developer like DGT Creative to add it to your theme.
To add a navigation bar on most themes, enter a menu name into the field on the very right of the Appearance > Menus page. Click the big blue ‘Create Menu’ button to create your 1st menu. Then, select the menu you’ve created fromt the ‘Theme locations’ area on the left side of the page and click the ‘Save’ button. Now in the area below, you can check the pages, posts, or even categories that you want to show up on your navbar and then click ‘Add to Menu’ button to add the post and pages you checked to the menu that you created. Finally, you can drag and drop them into the order you want or indent them under each other to create drop-down menus, but don’t forget to hit the ‘Save Menu’ button once you get the menu in the order that you desire.
Plugins, Plugins, Plugins
Blogs tend to do one thing very well…. they show your the latest posts in reverse chronological order. The more you customize your site to do things above and beyond just showing your the latest posts, the more people will tend to perceive your site as a traditional website. Here are a list of some pretty amazing free plugins that can take you site above and beyond blog status:
MapPress – Turns your site into a google maps mashup where every post can be associated with a geopoint that shows up on a master map page.
WP e-Commerce – Although there are many other better loking e-comm solutions, WP e-Commerce was one of the 1st and still has the largest community of developers around it.
BuddyPress – Transform your wordpress site into a a social network!
NextGEN Gallery – This is the ’800 pound gorilla” of gallery plugins for wordpress. It has a ton of features and even has a bunch of extension plugins if you need even more functionality .
Featured Gallery, Carousels and Siders
A carousel, sometime called siders, are typically at the top of a the homepage and allow you to feature the most important posts ands pages on your site.
Smooth Slider - A well created plugin that allows you to easily feature posts and pages
Dynamic Content Gallery – This plugin allows you to features post and pages in a more visual way
Content Sider by SlideDecks – A slightly different approach with many bells and whistles
Custom Post Type, Custom Taxonomies (Tags)
Sometimes you need more then just standard Pages and Post on your website. Custom Post Types allow you to create entirely new classes of content like “Events” or “Portfolio Items”.
For example, many events management plugins add a custom post type to your site. When these plugins are activated they create a special area called “Events” in the left column of the admin area. When you add a new Event post, the editor looks much like a regular post editor except now it has fields to input a sart and end date. (see image)
Custom tag taxonomies can be added to Posts, Pages or Custom Post Types. You might want to have custom tag taxonomies if you were, for example, creating a DVD review site because it would allow you to have a separate systems of tags for tracking each DVD’s director and actor names. These separate system of tags will then allow a you to create much more well organized archives and ways for users access your content.