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Beyond a Blog – Running a Full Website Using WordPress

Amir Helzer is a business owner, blogger, and webmaster, who runs ICanLocalize, a human and technology-based translation service for small businesses who want to move their product or services into multilingual markets.

Some businesses start blogging to expand their website. Some start with a blog. For the strongest online presence, business websites need both static content and dynamic news, a.k.a a blog. The blog builds traffic and establishes authority. The static pages helps convert that interest into business.

Essential Content for Static Pages

When planning static pages for a business site, this content is essential to serve a local audience anywhere in the world.

  • Information about what you’re offering – this could be your consultancy services, an e-book, affiliate deals, courses or anything else you’re selling.
  • Benefits – how what you’re offering serves to make someone’s life better. Features lead to benefits, but the benefits are what really matters.
  • Examples, testimonials and case studies.
  • Support information – let people see answers to common questions
  • Contact and ordering information (along with a firm satisfaction guarantee)

Using WordPress as a CMS

WordPress has everything you’ll need to build a complete website, without installing any plugins or changing anything. In fact, it’s already the most popular content management system being used today, competing with established CMS such as Joomla! and Drupal.

In WordPress, use ‘pages’ as your static contents and ‘posts’ as blog entries. Pages can have sub-pages allowing to create a complete hierarchy of contents. Using WordPress, you can also select a specific page to be your home page. Categories and tags make it easy to jump between related pages.

Choose or build a theme that displays posts and pages properly for both human visitors and search engines and you’re ready to open for business.

Building usable Websites

A effective website is critical to business anywhere in the world. Points to consider:

  • Navigation - good navigation will make it clear where I am, what to expect on this page and where to go to get what I need. It should include the top tab for main sections and drop-down menus (or the equivalent) for sub-sections. Context, knowing where I am within the bigger picture, is important at all times.
  • Page layout – A good website follows conventions. Don’t make me learn your rules. Visitors who need to learn how to use a website from scratch, often leave before they do.

Whether you’re just starting out or already have a pretty large website, you can get great ideas from Steve Krug‘s “Don’t Make Me Think“.

Search Engine Friendliness

A few years back, people considered search engine optimization (SEO) as a sort of witchcraft. Today, search engine spiders can find their way around a website and analyze page contents efficiently. Follow basic principles, you’ll be fine.

WordPress takes care of most SEO concerns for you by rendering valid HTML and using a correct hierarchy of headings. You can help (a lot) by writing short, topical pages, which search engines can easily understand. You’ll find it’s very helpful for humans, too, especially those you want to find your business and become your customers.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

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Comments

  1. J.D. Meier says:

    At the end of the day, I think it’s about experiences. I think you can build some great experiences with Word Press and I love the fact that Web is full of live examples to learn from.

  2. nick says:

    This is very helpful. I would love something with even more detail and “how tos”

  3. This is an excellent post , I’m grateful to you , thanks a lot .

  4. Winston says:

    Im not convinced wordpress can compete with the leading CMS systems. Im not even sure they are trying to compete with them. I have always felt that wordpress has done so well because it has stuck to doing one thing well – a key message that seems relevant to niche bloggers.

    Although I accept you can start pushing wordpress towards a full on CMS system it seems that getting the same results is at best a compromise and a lot of work when compared to out of the box solutions.

    By the way, I wouldnt count drupal or joomla as “easy” alternatives. I find both difficult to use and adding in all the elements you need to run a site can be a painful process. It is unfortunate that these two get all the press when there are better/easier to use free open source CMS systems out there.

    I use http://www.e107.org – nothing really competes in terms of ease of use and time to deploy. With a major release on the way it will soon be the leader but I suspect many people will stick to trying to fit wordpress round their requirements – it’s almost painful to think about lol!

  5. Lara Kulpa says:

    It’s only as complicated as you want it to be… or as you allow it to be, I should say.

    I haven’t ever come across a situation where there was something I wanted to do with WP and couldn’t. I’ve had multiple installations on one domain (before WordPress MU came out – back when we had to manage that ourselves). I worked with another plugin developer to get that nectardesign site to be what it is. I’ve built every single client site I’ve done over the past 4 years with WordPress, and trust me – they’re not all blogs.

    The bottom line is that it’s going to cost you – either in TIME to learn the real ins and outs yourself, or in MONEY to get someone to help you who already knows them.

    I also wanted to add that I don’t think this post was meant to teach you the ins and outs of PHP and customizing WordPress, step by step. That’s what wordpress.org and the forums and other blogs are entirely dedicated to doing. But it was meant to get you thinking about WP in a way you might not have before. Don’t be so harsh on the author… and yes, with a few minor tweaks (like permalinks and adding some certain plugins) WordPress is EXTREMELY SEO friendly.

  6. Todd Andrews says:

    I get almost 100% of my clients to use WordPress as a CMS because it is so easy to use. Better than teaching someone Joomla.

  7. Sangesh says:

    I’ve heard quite a lot about using wordpress as a CMS for building dynamic websites, but I’ve never tried it. I’ve even visited web sites that used wordpress as CMS which are really wonderful. I’d like to use wordpress as a CMS though. Maybe soon in the future.

  8. Alex Thio says:

    Amir, a hearty word of thanks for your article. It was just what I needed! As a newbie blogger and author of my first website (yikes!), the content of your article will certainly be food for thought and application. I wish you the best as you come up with more informative and practical articles like this one! Thanks a million – and success be yours always!

  9. Lisa Wood says:

    Thanks for this post! I have a few clients who want something easier to maintain than their current static websites – and I’ve been pointing out the benefits of WordPress. I really don’t care Joomla at all.

  10. Tinh says:

    I think it is a great idea to make a website with WordPress rather than a blog but it is for business only, not for what I am planning now :-)

  11. Very nice article. I hope that more people will begin using WordPress in creative ways as that will hopefully stimulate some WP development beyond its blog focus.

    I personally run a To-Do list site that is based on WordPress, primarily for its wonderful member management system and the built in blogging features. I haven’t really seen any other application that takes WordPress so far away from its blogging roots than say Guy Kawasaki’s Truemors.

    I’d love for you to drop by and see what I’ve done with WordPress: http://www.sugardo.com

    One of caveats about WordPress is that it has a bad rap as a resource hog and that it can be slow. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do love the WP.

  12. Not a bad post as food for thought, but I was hoping for some examples, some links to sites that are fully functioning CMS platforms, useful plugins, etc.

    One free theme that I have found, that totally rocks for CMS is the arthemia theme
    http://michaelhutagalung.com/2008/05/arthemia-magazine-blog-wordpress-theme-released/

    I haven’t implemented on a production site yet myself, looking for a project to do so. But if you’re looking for a good CMS theme (if nothing more than to get your creative juices flowing) it’s worth a look.

  13. Yu Ming Lui says:

    WordPress changed my life on the blogosphere. I would definitely recommend it for beginners because it is easy to use and there is a plethora of plugins to choose from, plus a huge community out there developing it and sharing knowledge.

  14. joe gelb says:

    thanks for the great article i learned alot

  15. Paul says:

    A great article. I can use more articles like this about using WordPress as the primary CMS for my business. I too would like to see more examples and ideas that I can implement.

  16. Rod says:

    I’ve found WordPress up to everything I’ve tried to do with it so far, and much easier to work with and understand than Joomla or Drupal. I guess it’s debatable whether it’s a true CMS, but who cares, as long as it gets the job done. IMO one of it’s greatest strengths is the large community and wide availability of plugins and themes to make it behave and look like you want it to.

  17. Incredible post and discussions. I clicked on Blue ducks and Men with Pen website design. WordPress has long been used as content management tool. Here is site that I use as content management tool with a fixed Home Page.

    http://www.badcredit-mortgage.com

  18. charles says:

    Actually, most of the best web designers today do think about SEO during design phase and implementation phase.

  19. Kevin says:

    This is a great post. I actually am working on running two blogs which are in reality their own websites. I have two blogs that each focus on a college football team and I have been using WordPress to bring the feel of a legitimate web site complete with content for each. You can check my favorite one out at http://redraiderzone.wordpress.com, which covers Shippensburg football. If you browse it enough you will see that is still being added to but it has content such as audio downloads, an interactive schedule and a history section etc.

    I have found it very easy to use WordPress to run a website and hope that others do as well.

  20. Heidi says:

    I’m using WordPress at both of the sites I’m currently building, which includes my own, and it was also used on the site I just finished assisting with. I’m impressed with it, although I have heard that it doesn’t quite measure up to the full definition of ‘CMS.’ I started out using Drupal and became more familiar with that before switching to WP, but it wasn’t too hard to come over. I’m hoping to get to know it very well, so that future projects won’t involve quite so much ‘learning’ time.

  21. Joe says:

    @Kevin

    There is a comma at the end of your site link making it fail.

    Also, I find a black background VERY hard to read.

    Just my 0.125 Chinese yuan.

    Joe

  22. Lee says:

    Just revamped my portfolio website using WordPress and definitely worth it.

    I used to develop my own CMS but now think why bother reinventing the wheel – if there’s something out there that works then use it.

    Came across a few niggly bits along the development course but usually a solution is handy to find due to the huge fan base WordPress has and the amount of plugins available.

  23. WordPress has been a CMS for a very long time and the possibilities are practically endless, running a full website through it therefore isn’t really a surprise.

    After all, what’s need for one? Static pages – check

    You’re quite quickly done on that, and the basics are set. You can go a lot further if you desire, especially if you’re handy with coding your way around a bit. But nothing is really out of reach anymore, and with every new release it’s only getting easier.

  24. petra says:

    WordPress has been a wonderful platform to use for my real estate website: http://www.columbuscastles.com which many people have told me is the best looking real estate website they’ve seen in my area. It’s been easy for me to update the site myself, with the exception of new version updates.