Impressions from WordCampRDU 2009
WordPress isn’t kids stuff. I understand that now.
About 3 years ago, I started blogging and signed up for a WordPress account because it was easy, it was free, and it was recommended without reservation by David Churbuck, a man who knows a thing or two about blogging. At the time, I took it on faith that there was something special about the platform to deserve this recommendation, but I didn’t know just what.
Several of today’s sessions at WordCamp, really changed my perspective about what WordPress really is. It isn’t just a blogging platform. It can be a content management system, and even a reasonable e-commerce platform for a small business. Through the use of some plug-ins, a person can build out a flexible and powerful website.
Shayne Sanderson capably demonstrated how easily Instinct’s e-commerce WP plug in could be installed and configured. I was impressed by the sophistication of the integration, the support for pages, shipping calculator, inventory sku management with stock counters, cart capability, and multiple checkout transaction gateways. Reading around the blogosphere following the presentation, I can see that experiences on the product may have been mixed a year ago, but it looked pretty good today. I don’t know that I would recommend it as a platform for enterprise class e-commerce, but it seems like an option worth exploring for someone looking to grow beyond an ebay store. Possible candidates might be a T-shirt or screen printer, an artist or potter, a custom fabricator, or even a coder who wants to enable downloads for a fee. (want to start your own app store?)
Brett Bumeter of Softduit Media also had a great presentation and demonstration of WordPress as a content management system. While it may not scale indefinitely, it is far more customizable that I imagined, especially using an application like Artisteer to create custom themes with drop downs and tiered menus to manage pages, and support more complex designs and visions. (click over to the softduit site to see example of the drop downs) Brett morphed several themes, demonstrating how easily menus, headers, column layouts and overall appearances could be changed in seconds. Pages began to look more like conventional web pages, and less like canned blog pages with link lists and sidebars full of widgets. I mentally combined this CMS session with the previous e-commerce session and quickly realized how WordPress could be used for far more than just blogging.
While WordPress is fairly SEO in it’s own right, the individual blogger can always employ a few additional tactics to improve their results. Andy Beal shared several technical tips which have both short and long term benefits to search efficacy. He also revealed a few clever tactics for post re-titling, improving the post slug, as well as some evolutionary tuning of a post’s focus. Hats off to Andy for sharing specific things we can all implement today on our blogs.