Custom Theme and Plugin Development
WordPress has become much more than a blogging platform. You can use it to create websites of almost any type, from single-user blogs to sites with thousands of visitors and pages. The news and information site for Boston University uses WordPress, as do the Red Hot Chili Peppers, author Liz Castro, retail giant Best Buy and my community site PioneerValley.info
None of these sites looks the same and each serves a different purpose, but they were all built using WordPress. WordPress provides a sophisticated back-end to handle storing and retrieving your page content from a database, and verifying user permissions, validating data, handling uploads, etc. It includes a basic WYSIWYG editor, making it easier for non-programmers to add new content, and, depending on your set-up, won't require specialized skills or a lot of time to administer.
Custom Theme Development
There are thousands of free themes available. The easiest way to make your site look a little different is to download an existing theme and modify the included stylesheets and image files. Many premium themes, such as the popular Thesis theme, as well as some free ones, such as Atahualpa provide control panel support, so you can make these changes through the browser without needing to write code or edit a CSS stylesheet file.
However, depending on the needs of your site, an 'out of the box' theme may not do everything you need. Sometimes you can add the necessary display options for various kinds of content by creating custom templates within an existing theme; sometimes it's easier to start from scratch.
Your WordPress web site can be further customized with plugins. Plugins work with your existing themes and database to provide more options or new functionality. The most common examples your visitors see are calendars and contact forms. Other plugins assist with administration or make your site work better, such as SEO plugins or mailing list managers. There are plugins for everything from e-commerce and shopping carts to displaying baseball scores or posting content to Facebook. Some are well-written and some are not, so it's a good idea to look at user reviews and make sure a new plugin is working as expected in a testing version of your site before using it on the main site.
User Forums and Bulletin Boards
bbPress, which is now available as a plugin, can be integrated into a WordPress site to provide user forums.
Other popular forum and bulletin board software can be integrated into Wordpress by setting up custom page templates that call the appropriate files to create the forum or bulletin board, or to send visitors to a hosted forum site.
Other plugins available on this website:
- Custom Dashboard Help Widget
The Custom Dashboard Help plugin adds a metabox with custom text to the dashboard. Great for Admin-only announcements or making a short README for your site contributors. You can display basic help or include links to more detailed information.
- Markdown Converter Plus
Markdown Converter Plus is a stand-alone class for converting Markdown to HTML. It is also available as a Wordpress plugin, called by a shortcode, for converting post content or displaying text files.