WordPress, the most widely used blogging platform in the world, is built in a relatively content-agnostic way that means it’s suitable for all sorts of things, all it takes is a little bit of creativity and some theme/plugin hacking. I’ve decided to compile a list of alternative/slightly different uses for WordPress that I either see around the place, or that I come up with myself.
I’m not going to go into great detail on how to actually implement all of these ideas, I’m just putting them out there.
Content Management System
According to Matt Mullenweg, over 50% of people who are downloading and installing WordPress now use it as a CMS rather than a blog. If you look around on this site you might notice that everything here is actually managed by WordPress. All of the pages outside of the blog are actually “Pages” in WordPress as well. The tools and plugins available for using WP like this are improving every day, so expect to see a lot more of this.
Use WordPress to store and manage your Address Book/contacts list? Why not, Simon Wilson does. He made a WordPress Address Book plugin that you can download and install to do the same.
This is an interesting experiment from Automattic (the company that “sponsors” WP development, amongst other things) that turns a WP installation into something resembling a private Twitter. It has turned out to be very valuable for them for internal communications and they use it to keep up with what everyone in the (distributed, entirely virtual) company is working on. You can download the Prologue Theme and install it to try it out.
One of my own projects, MyBabyOurBaby, took WordPress MU (the multi-user version) and wrapped it up in a completely different skin, modified all sorts of things, and created a shared environment for people to capture and store memories about their children. Most people have no idea it’s based on WP until I tell them because it’s completely hidden beneath the hood.
Ideas For Other Applications
I’ve long been on the look-out for a decent online task/project management tool that I can use to keep track of what I’m doing. I’m yet to find the perfect solution, so at one point I got to thinking – what if I built one using WordPress as the core?
- Categories could represent Projects
- Each post would be a task/something that needed to be done
- Post even support “parent posts” for nested lists of tasks
- Meta fields could be used to apply priorities, due dates, etc
- There’s already a user management system in there
- Themeing is handled obviously, but you’d want to build a very customized one to handle this system
- There are plugins available for email notifications and other features that you’d want along the way
It could just work.
Job Application Manager
Of all people, I was talking to Matt Mullenweg (lead developer of WordPress) and he mentioned that they don’t have a good system for dealing with job applications (all emailed to as single mailbox, then they have to rely on someone to check that and sort through them). That got me to thinking, why not use a WordPress installation to store them? It could work something like this:
- Instead of applying by email, applicants would fill out a simple form.
- They would enter their personal details (stored as custom meta-fields) and
- Write a cover letter, which would become the body of the post
- Either copy-paste their resume (which would then become “Page 2” of the post) or upload a file perhaps (upload into media library and link to this post).
- They would select which position they are applying for from a list of positions (which is actually a list of Categories from WordPress)
- Once they’re done, they would submit their application and it would just automatically get added to your WP install. At this point you could:
- Get notifications via RSS by simply subscribing to the feed for the whole blog
- Subscribe to a specific category if you’re only interested in applications for the position
- Use something like the Post Notification plugin to send out an email to anyone in your company who’s interested in hearing about new applicants.
- You could even change this process to make use of something like Peter’s Collaboration Emails to post applications as Drafts until someone approves them
- Now you’ll build up a “blog” full of applications, which you can search, filter, display however you want (custom themes could provide clean list views, or any other variation), and if nothing else, you’ve got your information in a database-powered backend. You can even comment on applications using the normal commenting functionality, and possibly use tags or another category to shortlist suitable people.