May 25 2007

WordPress as a content management system for niche communities

Published by at 10:45 am under Blogging,internet,Online community

As many who read our blog have guessed, we use an opensource blog system called WordPress. Before we decided to install a version of it on our site, we did a little shopping around and found that it was quite easy to use and it received great recommendations.

We’ve been using it about a year now and we’re very pleased with it.

Within the past six months, I’ve also been reading about how it can be easily used as a full content management system for websites. The folks over at WordPress and the development community have added so many features that a person can build in a slew of manageable web pages in addition to using it as just a blogging platform. Many big sites have implemented it quite successfully on small and large scales. Even the Wall Street Journal, a site that is oft reported to give blogging a bad rap, uses it to manage its small, but growing, stable of bloggers.

However, I wanted to point out a hyper-local site, or niche website, that has also successfully harnessed the power of WordPress since February, although on a small scale. The Toy Soldier, a hobby and comic book shop in Amesbury, MA. (I’ve mentioned the shop before in regard to purchasing Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics.) While the shop’s needs are nothing like larger publishers, they’ve taken a simple use case and done it well.

The home page is also the page where the site’s blog resides, so visitor’s are immediately met with the most recent news or thoughts from the store’s owner, Mick. In the left-hand navigation bar, you can click “About Us” to find out more about the store, similar to our “About Paul and Randye” page. There is also a page for directions.

The site also has a user forum powered by Invision Power Services, which was integrated with WordPress. The Toy Soldier intelligently requires registration before it can be viewed or used. The great part about proprietary and opensource forum software packages working with WordPress is that they are an integral way for community members to be able to contact each other and engage, the key to the survival of any group. Forum software suites are very popular and easy to manage, but we may see a decline as more sites figure out how to let communities form sub-groups themselves within their sites. But that’s a topic for another post.

Finally, the site has a link to its online store, which is also a key element for retailers in this day and age.

If you’re a comic book collector, gamer or an online pro interested in seeing how smaller web sites handle their content with WordPress, I suggest taking a look around the Toy Soldier site. It has certainly caused me to think twice about reformatting our entire web presence as well.

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