Update: be sure to check out bloghelper’s tutorial on the same subject which offers more in-depth details and a few more alternatives.
For many the WordPress application has become synonymous with blogging. And while I am certainly guilty of this conflation, I have recently been exploring how this program can be used as a content management system (CMS). To this end it may make some sense to discuss how I have been using WordPress over the last month with some faculty to help them create a relatively quick and easy website with, or without, a blog.
This option of using WordPress as a CMS for faculty web sites has in many ways grown organically out of exploring this application for faculty courses. For while integrating WordPress as course management software recently, I have simultaneously been getting requests from faculty regarding their languishing or even non-existent webpages. Rather than pretending either of us will have the time or energy to work through a program like Dreamweaver, I have been presenting WordPress with Static Front Page as a quick and easy solution to both creating and easily maintaining their websites. This obiously makes sense on some practical level for me in terms of training and documentation, much ofwhich I have for WordPress. Howeer, I am also of the mindset that WordPress can be easily repackaged for faculty who want to revisit the idea of their web presence because it has become so user-friendly. I would ask how many of you out there could install, configure and train a group of faculty on using another CMS in under an hour? Moreover, once faculty have a viable tool for creating and maintaining web content for their professional wesite with WordPress, the chances seem much great that this space would be integrated into a much more dynamic virtual learning space for course material, course sites, blogs, etc.
In fact, the process below is pretty straight-forward. Keep in mind, however, that this is one of many ways to accomplsih such feat – the WordPress documentation has another (in my opinion more convoluted way) here.
The first thing to do is download the plugin Static Front Page by Semiological or filosofo’s Home-Page-Control. I will be discussing Semiological’s Static Front Page because that is what I have used thus far, as always any additional options would be appreciated in the comments.
Once you have uploaded the static front page to the plugins folder of your WordPress install and activated it, you are ready to roll:
Using the static front page plugin is very simple:
1. Create a page titled ‘Home’
2. Activate the plugin and you’re done
The static front page plugin looks for the page with a page slug of ‘home’. Thus, you can safely change your ‘Home’ page’s title after it is created.
In addition, the plugin turns any link to your ‘home’ page into a link to your blog’s front page. And it lets you customize your front page normally:
* If you want a front page specific template, simply create a home.php file for your WordPress theme
* If you want front page specific features, simply use WordPress’ built-in is_home() test normally
The static front page plugin fallbacks to normal blog mode when no page with a page slug of ‘home’ is found, and will override the opt-in front page plugin when both are active.
Once you’ve followed these steps (which are staight from the Semiological page) you now have a WordPress installation that can create new pages with new content using WordPress 2.0’s quick and easy page creation, editing, file upload, multimedia plugins for audio & video, as well as nested subpages. In fact, you can even tack on a WordPress blog to your website, just follow these instructions below (again from Semiological)
1. Use the static front page plugin normally
2. Create a category called ‘Blog’, make it the default category, and put every post in it
3. Link to the ‘Blog’ category in your navigation menu