WordPress: More than just a blog

As a member of the Cool Blue team I’ve worked on a large number of websites. The vast majority of those are built around WordPress. This may shock those in the know as it’s primarily a blogging tool, but I have discovered over the past few months WordPress is much more than that.

“WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.”

I’d argue that it goes much further than that as I’ll explain.

I started work for Cool Blue back in Oct 2010. Although I’d graduated from university with a first in web design, I knew there was a lot more the web had to offer and I had barely scratched the surface.

My first few weeks were spent updating existing WordPress sites and was impressed with how easy it was to update content. It was apparent that with a bit of training, the majority of people would be able to update content and imagery within the platform with relative ease. Surely something so simple for the consumer meant hard work for us and a steep learning curve for me?

A few weeks passed and I found myself being part of a number of projects all built around WordPress. To my surprise I found creating websites with the tool not only relatively straightforward (if you’re a web designer of course!) but rewarding and fast. These projects were not simple blogging sites either, but high quality websites that were eye catching, well laid out, and incorporated a number of complex bespoke features. These projects were created using standard HTML, CSS, and a few lines of PHP to call and reference WordPress content – nothing too difficult or strenuous. To say I was impressed with the package was an understatement and I seemed to pick it up in no time.

Arguably WordPress’ best assets are its plug-ins. Built by its users for its users, the majority of plug-ins are free to use and offer a number of features that are quick and simple to implement but create endless possibilities. Booking systems, custom post types, light box galleries and much more can all be found with a simple search and installation is just as quick. There’s an instantly visible beauty to open source, but that’s for another blog.

Today I look back at the number of sites I’ve created that are built upon WordPress platform and it’s difficult to see how I managed without it for so long. Building sites with WordPress is quick, simple, and straightforward for us, and offers the same benefits to our customers, leaving an end result is something to be admired. It’s so good I’ve even started re-building my own personal site around the platform – with a CMS this easy to implement it would be stupid not to!

It’s worth mentioning that despite my appreciation for the platform, WordPress, like anything else, is not a total solution and there are situations where a different content management system would be more suitable – for instance in e-commerce situations or large and detailed corporate websites. It’s all about weighing up the pros and cons, but for the majority of the sites we build the platform is ideal – and indeed both e-commerce and corporate websites are possible thanks again to the various plug-ins available.

All in all WordPress has been a vital tool in our toolbox and it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon. With new projects on the horizon “Can we use WordPress?” is often the first question on our lips. You don’t have to look further than Geobar, redboxdesigngroup, Advantex or indeed the site you’re looking at right now to see why.

The largest self-hosted blogging tool”? With a few plug-ins, a little bit of web coding knowledge and some of Cool Blue’s trademark creativity the end result can be so much more!