Events WordPress WordPress as CMS

Speaking about WordPress as CMS at WordCamp Whistler – What do you want me to cover?

I am speaking at WordCamp Whistler on January 24th on the topic of using WordPress to create, design and manage “non-blog” web sites – in other words using WordPress as a CMS. If you follow this blog you know that I’ve been working with this concept for a long time and that in almost every case I use WordPress as a base for my client sites. There are many reasons for this, foremost that from a client perspective it is more user friendly than any of the other open-source CMSes out there. Add to that the almost infinite extensibility through plug-ins and other hacks and how easy it is to create custom themes and layouts and you have what in my view is the best backend solution for small and medium scale web projects.

In my original pitch I asked for a one hour session. But unbeknownst to me Tris Hussey (who is looking for your input on favourite plug-ins etc), another WordPress as CMS expert, had pitched almost the exact same topic to the event. Rather than pick sides and give one of us the full hour, it was decided that we would each get a 30 minute session so we both get our foot in and the attendees can get two different perspectives. Which is a great idea: This is by no means an exact science and while I’m sure Tris and my approaches compliment each other they will be vastly different. And that “double perspective” will give the listeners a far broader understanding of the subject matter than if one of us were to do the session by ourselves.

So what should I talk about?

With the reduced time comes the inevitable question: What should I talk about? Those who know me know that I will take up whatever time I am given and I’ll always have plenty more to say. In the case of WordPress as CMS I could probably hold a week long seminar and still only cover the basics of what you can do. In my original pitch I outlined a series of topics that form the foundation of this technique. These include basic WordPress anatomy, theme and CSS hacks, taxonomy, custom templates, custom themes and a discussion of why WordPress is the ideal platform for “regular” web sites.

I could talk at length on all of these topics but I think the attendees would be better served with a broader approach that covers the basics of several of them for further study later on.

What do you want to learn?

Rather than set my talk in stone right now, I’d like to hear from the people who are actually going to the event and let them shape the session. So what do you want me to talk about? What do you think you would have the most use of? WordPress anatomy? Custom fields as layout tools? Theme hacks? Taxonomy? The choice is yours. Here is a preliminary break down of the session and then I’ll let you, the listener, decide the final result:

Working Title: WordPress as CMS – Building the Non-Blog WordPress Site of the Future

Suggested topics covered:

WordPress Anatomy

What does WordPress really do? How does the stuff you create in the back-end end up on the pages and posts? What is the difference between posts, pages, indexes and all the other options? And how are these things connected?

The Basic Hack: Custom Templates

Want more control of the appearance of your pages? Custom templates give you complete control with minimum effort. Learn some basic theme hacks and understand the template structure.

Custom Fields Can Be Used for Anything!

One of the most powerfull and underused functions in WordPress is the Custom Fields. By understanding how they work you can use them as a layout tool to create menus, boxes and other elements that will make your site stand out.

Make the WordPress Taxonomy Work for You

The WordPress taxonomy (hierarchial structure, i.e. categories, sub categories etc) was built for blogging. But if you reframe your thinking of what blogging really is you’ll see that the same taxonomy combined with page parenting gives you a solid base for non-blog taxonomy and dynamic page creation.

That’s what I have. Now it’s up to you! Drop your thoughts in the comments below and together we’ll create a session customized to the people who are there to learn.