Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

WordPress 3.0 and your church website

Back in 2004, I wrote about using a blog as an inexpensive content management system for your church and/or charity. Seeing how we measure technology in dog years, that article might as well have been written 42 Years ago.

Meaning, blogging systems such as MoveableType, ExpressionEngine, Blogger and WordPress have all matured from snot-nosed little kids into mature adults.

No better proof of that is the upcoming May 1 release of WordPress 3.0 which among its many new features, included are some considerable content management capabilities such as Custom Post Types, Custom Taxonomies, Easy Menu Management and WPMU Multi-site Capabilities.

Here are some examples of 4 big-boy features to bring this home:

WPMU Multi-site Capabilities

I’ve long been a proponent of microsites. Back when I ran the site for Redland from 1998-2004, I employed MoveableType mostly because it allowed me to quickly launch new sites under a subdomain that I could manage from a single admin panel. These included:

  • Seasonal microsites, such as one for Advent, one for Christmas.
  • Group microsites, such as for your youth group, or the adult choir.

Put in the parlance of an overworked and under-appreciated volunteer, it means you can go nuts with a micro-site strategy to presenting the various campaigns and groups within your organization.

As a coder with a healthy background in applications framework architecture and product management, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the ability to deploy once and reuse often.  Even for a small enterprise, this capability offers big-league returns in deployment turn-around with higher overall quality.

Think of the WPMU capabilities in terms of a black box – that with this single install, you can take a more ‘factory’ approach to supporting your organization’s web presence by taking a weekend to:

  • offer a set of stock themes
  • add multiple-language support
  • run a single set of plug-ins across all sites
  • take better control over your analytics
  • install tools such as jQuery once, in one place
  • enforce policy across the entire enterprise
  • employ more effective caching strategies for media

And presto, you’re cranking out sites faster than an errors in early season Orioles game.

Oh, it also means some of you brave souls can experiment shooting your foot clean off with converting WordPress into a social network via BuddyPress.

How this will all work with plug-ins that allow single-sign-on via FaceBook is still something I’ve yet to determine, but more on that particular technology path in an future post.

Custom Taxonomies

Traditionally categories, and to some degree tags, were the only way to identify the “genre” in which a post or set of posts belonged.

This was fine for managing the posts … but managing the actual categories and tags was a real pain in the posterior.

What Custom Taxonomies does is allow administrators greater flexibility and scaleability in managing their information hierarchy.

Put another way, you can now think of all your content in nice, deep outlines if you like … and they don’t have to focus solely on content.  Some of these outlines can include groups people within your organization.

Easy Menu Management

Before, if you wanted custom navigation, you had to get into the individual themes and edit the code. A logistical nightmare if you wanted switch themes and/or manage multiple sites.

The only other way around this was to find plug-ins that allowed you to filter down menus on categories, but this band-aid approach added a level of complexity that often would fail a site once it changed webmasters or needed to expand.

With the integration of custom taxonomies comes a need to better manage navigation through said information outlines.

Now, you can create menu schemes ahead of time, that if well named, can provide navigational clarity to the user based on context … and help you with creating effective conversion campaign funnels.

Custom Post Types

In earlier versions of WordPress, you had a wide variety of content options – so long as you only wanted to field content in the form of a page or a post.

Now you can create a contextual segments. Some that quickly come to mind are:

  • Sermons
  • Galleries
  • Swag (think e-store)

My point being …

… WordPress isn’t just a pimply little blogging tool anymore.

Instead, with judicious use of the above features coupled the right plug-ins, WordPress can become a light-weight yet powerful means of managing your organizations web presence without having to indulge the expense of a large, inflexible IT shop.

Put another way, WordPress 3.0 still nicely addresses the here-and-now while also providing you a basis for ever changing and/or emerging needs and trends … quickly … without forfeiting your future for a bowl of soup.

Still not convinced? Well ask yourself,  is your resource-constrained IT infrastructure capable of managing your current backlog while remaining flexible enough to expand to whatever the heck social media and the web looks like in 2015? For those HYCW cult members who followed my advice in 2004, the answer to that question is yes!

Additional Reading

Don’t take my word for it, here are some other articles on the upcoming release of WordPress 3.0 you may find informative and useful:

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