New WordPress Sites

This is becoming (for me) the summer of pushing the envelope with WordPress – bending it to become a full content management system, rather than just a blogging tool. Between work and home, have been converting a couple of sites over the past few weeks – one from an old-school static site, and another from Movable Type to WordPress.

landwater.com represents the environmental and historic preservation law firm Rossmann and Moore – I’ve been working with them since forever. Their old static site (originally designed by baald, who comments here sometimes) has stood up to the years amazingly well, but it was time to move on. Now in WordPress, office assistants there can finally update the site without having to learn Dreamweaver or FTP. I love the way WP pages can become children of other pages. By nesting them, you get a hierarchal URL structure automatically, and can use the workhorse wp_list_pages() function to generate structured HTML lists, which in turn can be styled as CSS fly-out menus. Throw in the My Page Order plugin and non-tech editors can rearrange the hiearchy (and thus the menu system) via drag-and-drop. So elegant.

At work, have been on a mission to get all Movable Type sites converted to WordPress by the end of summer. The first of the two largest projects is pretty much done. North Gate News Online is the publishing arm of J-200, the journalism bootcamp all first-year students endure. The site has been a CPU-sucking Movable Type hog with a hideous design (my fault!) for years; as of today it’s majorly multimedia-enabled WordPress site with its own podcast feed (nothing there yet). This is a soft-launch; all the tech is ready and waiting for the next crop of J-200 students. OK, we’re showing too much roof, but the design is leaps and bounds beyond the old site. Using a ton of plugins to handle Flash, QuickTime movies, embedded audio, image pop-ups, etc. But most impressive is WP-Cache, which gives you the static page performance of MT combined with the dynamic page behavior of WordPress. Poetry.

The biggest WP challenge of the summer starts on Monday – total rebuild of China Digital Times, which has much more sophisticated needs. Looking forward to the challenge.

Music: Leo Kottke :: Blimp

2 Replies to “New WordPress Sites”

  1. I’ve been slowly getting to know WP, but find the documentation scattered (no surprise for a project that extensive). The tricks you’re making it do sound amazing, so I hereby formally encourage you to write a WP book (your BeOS book was always one of my favorites).

  2. Mike, I agree about how scattered the docs are. Frustrating sometimes. On the other hand, I do enjoy contributing to the Wiki from time to time, and appreciate that everyone else has been able to as well.

    I think if I were to write a WP book it would be focused on the idea of using WP as a CMS. I’m actually thinking of presenting a panel at next year’s SXSW on this topic.

    Last night I re-did the Birdhouse Hosting FAQs with all pages, rather than posts, using the wp_list_pages() function combined with MyPageOrder mentioned above. Damn, that’s a flexible function.

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