Talking tech since 2003

When one surfs the Internet and visits websites, it is a rare occurrence for that person to consider how the websites they visit are managed and designed. Sure, people will sometimes ask themselves how sites work and how the people behind the site manage it, but not many know the amount of effort that it takes to manage a content-rich website. The fact of the matter is, many websites employ the use of a content management system, also known as a CMS.

The great thing about content management systems is that they allow the publishers behind the site maintain it with relative ease (usually through a web-based editor), and are able to make the management of content a simple process. Moreover, content management systems allows for the “flow” of a website to be easily maintained, and ultimately aids in the creation of a seamless and uniform look among pages.

WordPress is easily one of the largest – if not the largest – content management systems in existence. With no shortage of third-part themes and plug-ins, as well as a simple user interface, many websites (BestTechie included) use WordPress.

For a while now, I’ve been using gpEasy to manage my office’s website. While gpEasy was by no means a bad content management system, it simply did not offer the number of features that my office’s website was beginning to need. This being, there were a minimal number of available plug-ins and with the constant updates that needed to be made to the site, the what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor just wasn’t cutting it.

I’ve always known that WordPress is the ideal blogging platform, but until trying it I was unaware of how easy it was to manage a relatively static website with WordPress. It took some playing around with to get me to the point where I was comfortable with maintaining a site with WordPress, but last Friday I decided to give it the go ahead and start the migration process to WordPress.

Installing WordPress onto the web server for my office was a million times easier than I had anticipated it to be. The legendary five-minute install, which consisted of SSH-ing into the server, downloading and extracting an archive file, and using the web-based configuration was a dead-simple process. And with the superb level of documentation that WordPress has, I didn’t have any misunderstandings whatsoever.

One of the things that really impressed me was the fact that the WordPress documentation covers the process of creating a MySQL database for the new WordPress installation, as well as the process needed to create re-write rules in various HTTP daemons.

The next step, which was a bit more of a challenge, was to transfer all of our old data from our gpEasy site and migrate it to the new WordPress installation. Because of the amount of data that the site had accumulated, this was a somewhat tedious task. For this reason, I would highly recommend that anyone starting a new website consider starting out with a CMS such as WordPress, as doing so will save a boatload of time and hassle down the road.

One of the things that I quickly came to like about WordPress was the fact that it was very minimalistic out of the box. Having said this, it didn’t have too many features, ultimately allowing for the end-user to customize it to their needs with the abundance of third-party add-ons available from WordPress’s site.

Finding and installing a professional-looking theme was a bit of a task simply because the WordPress themes directory is so expansive, making the choosing process more difficult than the actual installation process. Once the theme was installed, making minor tweaks to it with the built-in code editor couldn’t have been more straightforward.

With all of this done, I was able to really start using WordPress and taking advantage of all of the features that it has. The ability to create and restrict users is definitely something that I can see my office taking advantage of in the future, and the ability to maintain pages (creating drafts, alternating versions, etc) without immediately publishing them is definitely a plus.

One of the things I was quick to disable in WordPress was the blogging feature. Instead, I set the home page to a standard page, as the site is mostly static. However with how easy it is to update a WordPress site, I am thinking of taking advantage of the blogging feature to do company news. What does this show? It shows that with WordPress (especially with all of the third-party contributions available), the possibilities for what I can do are endless.

The installation process took only a few hours of my time on Friday night (again, this was mainly because of the amount of data that had to be moved over), and tweaking it to my liking took another couple of hours on Saturday. This investment of time was well worth it, because I ultimately feel that WordPress has given me a more simplistic management experience, and will ultimately allow our site to grow. Sure, I was a bit weary of the MySQL back-end of WordPress (mainly because of my lack of experience with databasing). But at the end of the day, WordPress has given my office a much more professional-looking website than I could have ever come up with on my own, and I am at peace knowing that the scalable WordPress platform will be able to suite my needs for years to come.

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