Using WordPress as a content management system

Using WordPress as a content management system

Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by Jamie

We have been finding ourselves turning more and more to WordPress to meet our Content Management needs. Over the past couple of years it has outgrown its ‘blogging software’ roots and become a fully fledged content management system in its own right, being awarded the Overall Best Open Source CMS Award in the 2009 Open Source CMS Awards.

We would like to showcase two of our most recent websites that make good use of WordPress: Golden Bough, Intellectual Property Solutions and Precious Cargo, a sub site of The Laurence Sterne Trust.

Golden Bough

Golden Bough, Intellectual Poperty

This is a small brochure style website that required an easy to use and archived latest news system, with certain news items to appear on the home page, as well as a Chinese translated version of the site which was to be translated by the client themselves, i.e not an automatic translation.

To achieve the news management we made use of WordPress’ blog features, creating new posts for each news item. These are automatically archived and can easily be outputted by Month, Year or Date. We then fed all posts which have the tag ‘featured’ to the home page, including their featured image, with a default image for those without one. We then displayed these featured news items as a slideshow using Javascript with the jQuery Cycle plugin.

The archived news system

The featured news items display in a slideshow

For the Chinese version of the site we used a WordPress plugin called qTranslate. There are plenty of Translation plugins for WordPress although most of them provide an automatic translation of some sort, using various online services, qTranslate enables the client to write the translation themselves, as you can see in the screenshot below.

The edit panel with Chinese version of the content

The plugin also creates a user friendly URL for the Chinese version, simply adding the folder ‘/zh/’ to the URL, for example:

The only issue we had was that only the text contained within the WordPress database is translated. We also needed to load a different banner for the Chinese version, as well as other little bits of text such as the contact form labels. For this we used some custom php to detect which language was currently being viewed and then serve up the appropriate text snippet or set of banners.

Precious Cargo

The Precious Cargo Letters

Precious Cargo has been a huge task and we are all very pleased with the result. The one installation of WordPress actually manages 2 different sub sites of The Laurence Sterne Trust, Precious Cargo and The Collection.

The main focus of the Precious cargo sub site was to be the ‘Letters from Yorick to Eliza‘, which are scans from a book. Each scanned page is set up as a different page in WordPress (all sub pages of the same parent). Each of these pages has a featured image attached (the scanned image), as well as some content (the page notes). A number of the letters also have YouTube videos associated which are added via a custom field.

This all works well within the template we set up, however, what was required was a more sophisticated system of browsing the letters, without needing to load a new page each time and then scroll down to the letter. For this we created a custom Javascript slideshow which allows us to browse the letters without having to load a new page, this includes the page notes and a link to the embedded YouTube video (if one exists), the YouTube embed code is cleverly added to a popup window.

One of many informative pages on the Precious cargo exhibit

Alongside the letters we needed a number of pages, each with a gallery of images and extra ‘page notes’ at the bottom, the page notes being created with custom fields and the Custom Field Template plugin (which adds WYSIWYG editing to custom fields). One of these pages also needed to display certain events and exhibitions from the main Laurence Sterne Trust website. We had built a custom event management system for them last year so for this we added the ability to tag an event as ‘precious cargo’ we then fed all the precious cargo tagged events through to this page.

For two of the pages we also required a  ‘mini blog’, with one of them having comment functionality. As these only needed to be single category blogs we simply output the posts from the relevant category in each page’s template, along with the featured image and the usual social bookmarking links.

This left the ‘posts’ in WordPress relatively free and enabled us to use these for the second sub site, The Collection. This is a showcase of books and various other items, ‘The World’s largest collection of editions of the 18th century writer Laurence Sterne’s work.’

These are split into 9 categories just like the usual blog posts, the categories are all sub categories of a top level ‘the collection’ category. Each item has a featured image and a set of images displayed in a gallery format. We made use of custom fields to display extra information, such as object history, dimensions, date, author etc.

We also included the WordPress search function, limiting the results to the Collection categories only, rather than the entire WordPress databse which would give us precious cargo pages aswell.

The Collection home page

An item in The Collection

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