Monday, 3 January 2011

Using Wordpress as a Content Management System?

I was contacted by the North and Mid - Cheshire Ramblers Association after my name was forwarded to them by one of the community groups included in my original mail shot last month. They have already have a pretty good site but are concerned about keeping it running; the vast majority of the work has been done by one person and they don't want to end up with a single point of failure.

One of the common themes I noticed when I was having a look through the list of organisations seeking volunteers in the IT4Communities database was that a good percentage were all looking for help with Content Management Systems. This would either involve guidance on choosing the right one to use, or implementing one they have chosen, or making some changes to an content created through an existing CMS. I don't have much experience working with these types of packages and it's definitely something I want to explore further. But my initial thought was this: 'why not use Wordpress'.

After all, many modern sites are centered around blogs and everything else is arranged around the edges. And Wordpress is the biggest (and maybe even the best) blogging tool around. Because it's built on PHP / MySQL it's free, it's simple to install (hey, even a PHP novice like me can set it up). Many web hosting packages already have the option to install Wordpress onto a domain that you register (this is an option available to the NMCRA).

It comes with everything you need to create content out of the box - all the admin forms and security controls. Wordpress has thousands of themes that will make a site look professional, modern, stylish and colourful straight away. Lots of people use it so help is pretty much only a forum post away. And I'm sure with a bit of tinkering (either through widgets, or through some manual coding) one could modify the blog to include any other content necessary.

It looks like the Ridgway Ramblers in South Africa have taken this approach and developed a useful site chock full of photos and information. Hopefully NMCRA can achieve something similar - and maybe other community groups that are looking for a suitable content management system will consider this as a solution too.

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