Building A Static Site Using WordPress

Sarah is a Web Developer specialising in PHP coding and WordPress. She runs several blogs all accumulated at Blogging by Sarah.

I often have the same conversation with people when they find out that I make my additional income from websites. It usually starts with them saying that they have a great idea but wouldn’t know where to start, how to set up the site and so on. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who surf the web, maybe looked at a bit of HTML and gave up dreaming of getting their idea online.

Forget all of that as it is possible with the right tool, and that’s WordPress. At this point I’ll also point out that WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform. Yes, it’s one of the most powerful blogging platforms out there, but get the idea of blogging out of your mind for a second and replace it with Content Management System (CMS). This is all you need to power your new site. WordPress is so simple to use, once you’ve got it up and running, and it allows you to concentrate on getting the content and information into the site and not having to worry about the foundations of the site.

Since WordPress version 2.1, you can easily change what the front page of your site is. This usually displays X posts – blogging style, however you can also create a static page and select this as the front page instead. By doing this you’ve turned your blog into a more standard website with a potential news section, powered by the blogging part of WordPress.

Why WordPress?

  • It’s free
  • Easy to use
  • There are plenty of free templates out there for you to choose from
  • It’s constantly kept up-to-date (don’t take this to mean they’re always fixing security exploits, improvements on the code to improve the efficiency and speed are done too!)
  • There’s a large user base so if you need a question answering then someone will usually know the answer
  • Plenty of plugins to extend and improve WordPress further
  • It is lightweight and can work as a CMS

There are plenty of other CMSs out there such as Joomla, however most are not as tiny as WordPress, and definitely not as easy to install or upgrade. The default WordPress installation takes up just 2.76MB which is nothing really!

With WordPress you get an easy to use admin area, allowing you to create new pages with a WYSIWYG toolbar, similar to that of Microsoft Word. This allows you to easily write and format your page text as you like, without touching any HTML. Adding a page is just like adding a post except a page is not put in a category. Pages can be set up as top level, or as ‘children’ pages of a Top Level or Parent page. You can also control the order in which your pages are output on the front end in the menu simply by setting the ordering when you add the page. However, just because you’ve scrapped the blog posts from the front page doesn’t mean you have to scrap the entire idea of blogging on the site. We all know that search engines like fresh content so once you’ve set your site up you could still have a news section, powered by the blog, which would allow you to perhaps update the site once a week, create that little fresh content to keep both the search engines and maybe your repeat visitors interested.

When you’re ready to take things further then a few WordPress plugins can easily help to allow you to create paid for content that’s only shown to logged in users and not random visitors. A great way to sell subscriptions to people.

My business maintains 10+ WordPress powered websites for clients. Some had WordPress so that they could make use of the blogging feature for their news or events section, others just wanted a budget site and considering the time and ease for installing it, WordPress was the suitable choice. All the sites are maintained easily, some by the clients and some by my business. It makes it so easy to keep the site updated, regardless of where you are and which computer you’re using.

In my next post I’ll explain how to configure your WordPress installation to run as a static site along with additional plugins to enhance and improve the site. If you’ve never used it before and would like to have a preview then get yourself a free account at WordPress.com. It’s a little limited compared to the standalone version but it will give you an idea of the main core of WordPress.

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