netfusion studios web graphic design cleveland akron ohio wordpress logoWordPress is quickly becoming the content management system (CMS) of choice for both beginners and advanced web design firms.  No longer only a simple blog platform, WordPress has exploded into a content-rich platform with a full slate of useful plugins and tools.

WordPress first stepped onto the scene in 2003 when it offered its self-hosting blogging platform. The open source software made it easy for amateurs to create a blog and maintain it with little design or development skills.  Over the years, the WordPress platform has grown into a formidable champion for web 2.0 platforms.  WordPress includes content management, plug-ins, widgets, as well as customizable themes. With online mailing lists and forums, WordPress has become a great community tool.

If you are going to build your organization’s website on the WordPress platform and you don’t want it to appear like a traditional blog, there are a few steps you should consider.  The first step is to select a theme.  There are hundreds of free themes available, but one major downside to a free theme is the risk that it is used by many other sites in addition to your site.  You certainly wouldn’t want your business to look “cheap” by conforming to a set theme structure that is almost identical to other business web sites. If a free theme is that good and appealing, there is a reasonable chance it is overused by many others.  You should consider investing in a design firm that can build your organization a custom theme for your website.

Next, use posts and pages for the correct content.  Pages are static content that would be informative to you customers about the products and services your business offers. Typically pages don’t change frequently.  On the other hand, a post would be used for blogging or more recent, timely information. Often times within a theme, a new post will replace or “bump” an older post. Keeping page and post content in mind when planning your site early will save much heartache and disorganization later.

The third tip would be to keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind always when adding content to your website.  Use permalink structures for your page URLs that match your page and post titles.  These are customizable and will change the structure of your URL. This just means that the URL (your domain) is followed by each post title. Also, use alternate or “alt” tags for all media posted to your site.  Another smart place to invest money is to hire a web design and development firm to manage the SEO of your site.

Next, use widgets and plugins to enhance your site…but don’t overuse them!  Widgets are small applications that typically reside in a sidebar or footer of your website.  Some typical widgets include a calendar that chronologically archives your site content, a welcome message, and common links. These widgets are part of the standard WordPress software installation.

Plugins tend to be more robust and typically effect features across your entire website instead of just within one particular area. Some examples of plugins are Google site analytics, photo galleries, and maintenance modules.  There are thousands of plugins that are available for download and they can really enhance your website’s function and content.

Fifth and final tip would be to utilize your Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed and promote it to your visitors and customers.  RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.  Your visitors can subscribe to your feed in a variety of ways. The feed will notify them each time you publish new content to your website.

About The Author:

Jason Roberts is the president of NetFUSION Studios Web & Graphic Design. NetFUSION Studios consists of a collection of designers, programmers, and consultants from a variety of backgrounds. The company also offers eLearning content creation and curriculum development for businesses and community organizations.

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