Using WordPress As a CMS for Non-Blog Sites

When WordPress first premiered several years ago, it was mainly for blog based sites with simple template changes. Now the WordPress platform is used from everything be it a blog, a normal site or even a eCommerce site.

Many clients are still in the mindset that WordPress has to be used for blog sites, and don’t understand that it’s a great platform to use for non-blog sites. Six months ago, I was of the same opinion; that WordPress as a CMS can’t hold a candle to a custom CMS.

Since then, I’ve been asked to add WordPress to almost every single site I’ve coded. It has definitely given me a lot of insight, plus a huge learning experience in both WordPress and PHP. I’ve come to find that WordPress is just as, if not more, powerful than a custom CMS in several ways. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of using WordPress as a CMS.

The Pros of Using WordPress Instead of Going Custom

  • It’s already coded, which makes your development time faster, which makes the client’s bill cheaper.
  • No need to hire a back-end programmer.
  • Thousands of plugins – If you don’t want to code it or can’t, somebody probably has for you, just download and install with one button.
  • Most of the stuff you need is already built in with installation.
  • The backend interface is appealing in design and easy to use and navigate.
  • Almost anything that you can’t do in basic WordPress and doesn’t have a plugin can be easily coded into.
  • Millions of themes can be installed quickly for free or small sums and already coded, these can be customized as much as you want as well.
  • Ability of everything being dynamic and updating entire portions of the site is awesome.

The Cons of Using WordPress

  • There are some advanced features that simply can’t be programmed into WordPress because of its loop feature. For example, pagination on a static page showing posts.
  • All the eCommerce plugins stink and aren’t very extensive in features (and expensive).
  • You’re stuck with WordPress’s backend, unless you really want to get into styling it by hand – you might as well go with a custom CMS.
  • WordPress can get difficult to manage if the site is huge.
  • You have to hire a programmer if you want super custom functions.

Using Multiple Platforms

I once did a site with 3 different platforms: WordPress for their blog, a custom CMS for their site, and an eCommerce platform for their cart, all on one site. Now that I think on it, I probably could’ve combined 2 of the sections into 1.

While this site is so completely custom, that 3 platforms seemed a better way to go, it’s a PIA if I ever need to update the template files, since I have to update all 3.

Not only is it a pain to update, but it’s a pain for the client to have to login to 3 different sections of the site to update their content. Perhaps someone should work on an all in one blog-CMS-shopping cart solution?

Pre-Built CMSes

Non-blog pre-built CMS, like Joomla and Drupal, have similar pros and cons to WordPress, but are more powerful and great for larger and more programming-heavy sites. Of course these have their own set of cons, especially Joomla, which is neither user-intuitive or easy to customize.

Why Use WordPress For A Non-Blog Site Instead of a Pre-Built CMS?

There are several reasons I choose WordPress over Joomla or Drupal.

  • There is more support and tutorials for doing almost everything in WordPress.
  • WordPress’s code is easier to navigate and find functions in.
  • The plugins are fantastic for WordPress, crappy for Joomla.
  • The ability to have the blog section in case clients change their mind, which they often do.

Which Do You Prefer?

Do you prefer to use WordPress, a pre-built CMS or a completely custom CMS for your clients? Why?