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Using WordPress as a Content Management System

In working with a smaller business client that was using a shared network drive for storing How-to documents and other information for how-to purposes, the process of retrieving and locating information was becoming too difficult simply using a network drive and the search functionality in Windows.  They didn’t have the funds or hardware for spinning up a sharepoint server to manage documents for them.
However, with a little bit of customization and some really great plugins, we were able to configure a CMS FAQ system for them using WordPress.
This customer wanted an easy way to:
  • Classify and search documents and other information
  • Have multiple users update their FAQ pages using a web driven interface
  • Dynamically pull information from other sites/resources
The Setup:
In setting up for the WordPress install, we already had a Microsoft Windows 2003 Web Server which we were able to use to host the WordPress 3.04 installation.  MySQL was also installed to this server.
Steps to configure the backend:
  • Downloaded WordPress 3.04 zip
  • Extracted the WordPress installation to our designated drive and directory
  • Created a new Website in IIS and pointed to the WordPress unzipped directory
  • Modified the wp-config.php file to reflect our database properties and login information
  • Since this server houses multiple websites, we setup host headers to point to the DNS name that we designated the website to respond to
After we had a healthy wordpress installation and everything checked out with DNS, we were ready to proceed to the actual configuration of the site with the needed wordpress plugins to make the site fit our purpose of a CMS system.
WordPress Plugins:
Adminimize – This is a great plugin for any wordpress site, but for our purposes it fits the bill of being about to restrict access to certain features or functionality of wordpress.  It allows you to restrict access based on the role of the user. 
List Category Posts – This plugin allows the listing of configured categories on a particular page that you designate.  So for our client’s purposes, they wanted to be able to “list” certain material under a certain page or category for instance.  So, if you have several types of FAQs or content that you want to display on distinct pages, this plugin works like a charm. 
Page Links To – This is a nice plugin that allows you to link a page to another link or location.  So when a user clicks on a menu item for instance, you can direct them to another link of your choosing, such as another internal intranet location.
RSS in Page – This plugin is a great resource for pulling content into a page from an RSS feed, for instance if you have an IT FAQ page setup, you could pull information from Microsoft’s Technet blog, Exchange blog, security alerts, etc.  It adds a nice touch to the look and feel of you CMS pages.  Additionally, you could pull content from an internal RSS feed that is setup within your organization.
Search Everything – This plugin greatly extends the search functionality of the default wordpress built-in search.  It allows you to control what wordpress searches, such as pages, posts, authors, comments, media, etc.  Also you can customize the highlight color of search results and so forth which is a must have feature when searching through hundreds or thousands of documents.
Simple LDAP Login – This plugin allows you to utilize your existing Active Directory structure for authentication.
Putting the pieces together allows for you to create:
  • a wordpress site, login using Active Directory for updates, management, etc.
  • Utilizing Adminimize allows you to restrict what certain users are able to do, posts, updates, etc.
  • By using List Category Posts, you can create pages, and then simply embed the List Category Post code of the category you are wanting displayed.  This allows for users to create posts with content, and then tag those posts based on a category you have setup.  Then the category is appropriately displayed on the page you specify.
  • RSS feeds and other posts can be pulled in as content using the RSS In Page plugin.
  • Content is searchable using the customized settings of Search Everything
Part II of the CMS discussion using WordPress coming soon.

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