Content

Working With WordPress: Maximizing Your Content Hub Potential

You’ve been tasked with creating a user-friendly, SEO-optimized, centralized, and responsive content hub, and you selected WordPress as a backbone. Nice choice — you just joined a thriving community of developers 60 million strong.

Think about this: 27 percent of all websites are powered by WordPress. Everything from CNN’s homepage to the official site of Sweden has the same open-source core running the show, which means WordPress has the flexibility to handle just about any functionality needs your site may require, no matter the scale.

At D Custom, we use WordPress in all of our major web projects. Here are just a few reasons we prefer it over similar platforms.

Related: Your content hub is squared away. Now you need to choose the right analytics platform.

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

Variety is the spice of life, and the WordPress kitchen is chock-full of it. As such, the potential for greatness exists — but so many capabilities can be intimidating. Good news: One of the beauties of WordPress is that you don’t have to go it alone.

Often you need a specific functionality to achieve your marketing goals but aren’t sure how to approach it. Maybe you’re creating a content hub for a city newspaper and need a custom ad solution to deliver paid ads from local businesses, or perhaps you have an online magazine with gated content you only want certain members to be able to access. Whatever your challenge, the chances are that it’s been encountered before by other WordPress users — and following in their footsteps is encouraged. 

Additionally, the massive community of developers coupled with the open-source nature of WordPress itself has culminated in a vastly supportive network of forums and websites, such as Stack Overflow and the WordPress subreddit, all dedicated to helping others find WordPress-based solutions. And when in doubt, you can always go with Google — a short description of your problem plus “WordPress” typically yields actionable results.

For more advanced functionality, I am a firm believer that if a custom solution is not needed, then there’s no shame in the plug-in game. 

Oh No! He Said the P-Word

I’ve heard from many developers that plug-in-based solutions should be avoided at all costs — they prefer custom solutions over the sometimes poorly commented code of others. 

The real danger of plug-ins remains in their compatibility both with the latest version of WordPress and any theme you might be using, but as long as you trust the stability and commitment of the plug-in author, you should be able to count on them for timely updates to their plug-ins. There’s no exact science to vetting your authors, but I recommend looking through reviews of the plug-in to make sure it doesn’t have a history of issues. 

So while healthy skepticism of this approach will serve you well, don’t turn your back on the wealth of well-supported and properly vetted plug-ins in the WordPress repository. We have several in our arsenal; for example, Yoast is our all-in-one SEO solution, while Wordfence is the silent protector that runs in the background of most of our sites to fight security attacks. 

Many incredible plug-ins exist backed by professional and large-scale organizations, like Automattic and the aforementioned Yoast. (They support their work through “pro” tiers of their plug-ins, which afford more functionality or fewer limitations, but I find that the free tiers work just fine.) From fighting comment spam to transforming your site into an e-commerce platform, these plug-ins take WordPress beyond its functions as a basic blog. 

Not Just Another WordPress Site

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating only using generic templates from WordPress’ theme and plug-in repositories to create your website — a custom solution will always yield the most personal and impressive results.

Again, its ability to give your design a solid foundation to build from is an area where WordPress really shines. (Case in point: You can get a website off the ground in five minutes using the famous five-minute install.) And although I often hear it criticized as “baby’s first web-dev platform,” WordPress is as complex as you want it to be. We’ve built things as simple as local restaurant landing pages and as complex as enterprise-level content hubs. The possibilities are limitless. Just take a look at the WordPress showcase: It will inspire you. 

The More You Know …

Those are all things you can achieve with little to no coding experience. But a little goes a long way when it comes to supplementary knowledge. For example, a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can give you the tools to customize the aesthetics of your site beyond a basic template.

If you don’t have a coding background, WordPress’ gentle learning curve allows you to play around with basic CSS in the editor. No FTP experience required. Those wishing to dive into PHP can reference the WordPress Codex — it offers clear, approachable solutions to complex challenges.  

All of this ties back into WordPress’ solid templating system. If you haven’t already, spend some time combing through the starter templates — such as Twenty Seventeen, its latest starter theme — and deconstruct its highly commented code.

Do your content justice by giving it a good home. Your readers will thank you for shaking up the traditional site structure and giving them a unique yet user-friendly experience. Most importantly, by following these tips, your site will be more than “just another WordPress site” — and for that, the internet thanks you.

Need help with your website? Visit our blog for tips, or reach out to me directly. 

@dcustommedia