Blogging platforms as websites

April 25, 2011

Since we’re using WordPress for this blog, when WordCamp first came to Boston last year, I took the opportunity to attend.

A common theme throughout the event was the increased functionality of WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System), not just a blogging tool. Presenters were promoting WordPress as a CMS solution for nonprofits and small businesses.

I hadn’t realized how much WordPress  and other blogging sites (such as Blogger) were growing the CMS functionality of their products. For a small nonprofit that doesn’t have a heavy web presence, this could be an excellent solution.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experiment with this more fully for an organization with which I volunteer. I needed to put together an event site, but wanted something more long-term than an EventBrite page. While this the first year we are hosting this event [insert gratuitous plug for the Literacy Olympics], it is hoped that this will be an annual flagship event for the Young Professionals Board (YPB). I was looking for a microsite that could be about the YPB itself, and our other events, while still linking back to the organization (Jumpstart) which we’re supporting.

So I created a new WordPress site and poked around a bit more. I found it incredibly easy to create the static pages (web pages) and the basic navigation. Since this is an event and more of a brochure site, I chose a simple “theme” and dropped in a banner. It took me a little bit longer to leaf through widgets and work out how to arrange the link box the way I wished, but once that was set, I could leave it on autopilot.

This now leaves me with several static pages (About, Join, Other Events, etc.), and a blog page where we can post updates.

Right now it is all very simple. There isn’t any design (I am not a designer), but for the purposes of an event site, we don’t need one.

But what impressed me was how simple, compared to many CMSes, the process was. While it wouldn’t be a good fit for the 1,000+ pieces of content that the TSNE/NPC websites contain, it’s a perfect solution for a small group with only a handful of static pages. Several local businesses (bakery, fabric/yarn store, comic shop, and restaurants just in my neighborhood alone) have started using this solution successfully.

I chose not to worry about design, and have a very WordPress look. But there are some really nice sites out there that you can’t tell use WordPress just from the design. And unlike custom-built HTML websites that require you either maintain a webmaster on staff or rely on a consultant every time you need to make a change, a WordPress site would only require outside help at the outset (to create a design, implement it, and get the domain hosting set up). Ninety percent of your content would be blogging, and you could update the static pages on your own the other 10% of the time – no consultant or webmaster needed.

Many webhosts now include automatic upgrades of WordPress (if you’re using tsne.org instead of tsne.wordpress.com, for instance), so if you choose your hosting company with this in mind, you won’t have to worry about system updates.

If your small nonprofit has no website, or doesn’t have easy access to update the one you have, you may want to investigate switching to a blogging platform.


I use WordPress as my example because it’s what we are already using at TSNE so I am most familiar with it, but there are other options as well. As always, please be sure to include several platforms in any software review to find the best fit for you.

Last year, WordCamp was pretty inexpensive for a full-day of workshops. If you’re interested in learning more about whether WordPress is a good fit for you, I recommend attending WordCamp 2011. The details should be released soon. In 2010, workshops ran the gamut from entry-level for non-geeks to high-level developer and app-building.

-Bethany

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2 Responses to “Blogging platforms as websites”

  1. Marc Baizman Says:

    Bethany, I agree that WordPress is awesome, and could be just the thing for a small nonprofit with limited budget. There’s also quite a robust marketplace for themes, so you can make your plain vanilla site look awesome, with very little work required! I love WooThemes and ThemeForest as 2 great sites that have lots of good looking themes.


  2. Really great post. Even if you think you may want to create a larger site later, starting out by creating a simple site with a blogging platform is a great way to get going, while you think through your long-term needs. Another thing I like about blogging platforms is that you can install simple plug-ins like All in One SEO Pack to help you optimize your site for search engines. Most of the tools are free or very low-cost.


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