My company has over 20 URL's for various recreation facilities we manage. I do all the design and maintenance of these myself, generally using a shared core design with some color and content changes. Since this is just a side job for me, I often put it off and unfortunately things get dated fast.
For a while now I have been wanting to experiment with a content management system to ease the maintenance of multiple web sites. So over the past couple of weeks, I have played around with various CMS's. I was intrigued for a while by ExpressionEngine, but the fact it was not public domain (ie it charges per site licenses that would be prohibitive for me) finally killed the deal. I also looked at Joomla and Drupal.
Eventually, I settled on what many will consider an odd choice: WordPress. Yeah, I know, its a blogging engine. I know quite well, because I am in the process of converting both my blogs from Typepad to WordPress. I chose WordPress for a few reasons:
- I understand the blogging paradigm, and so I have a good sense for how the content will be handled, and the limitations.
- I am, having messed around with my blogs, comfortable with the WordPress templating system. Though certainly more limited than ExpressionEngine, it does what I need to do. I am moderately facile in CSS and PHP, the two real requirements to make a good template.
- Most of my sites are simple. The only two API's I really need to plug in to are Google Maps and Flickr, and I have tested and am comfortable with the available WordPress plugins for these.
- I want to begin, carefully, to let some of my employees be able to add and edit some content (e.g. changing store hours). I think the wordpress interface is pretty accessible to some folks who may be new to online content and gives me the amount of control I need as an editor. For a noob content contributor, WordPress is far more accessible than other CMS's.
- With a static site, I have an advantage over a blog in that I can turn on full site caching to speed up the site (via WP-super-cache). I also added an SEO plugin to make my permalinks and pages more SEO friendly, something I don't care that much about on my blog.
I think that the first site came out pretty well, and I don't think its obvious that it is built on a blogging engine (site here, for our Arizona snow play area). The biggest internal debate I had was whether to go with fixed or variable widths. I actually went the opposite way of most modern programmers, moving from variable to fixed rather than vice versa. Most of my customers, as shown by my server logs, have slow and dated computers and monitors, so I think fixed width makes sense.
Yeah, I know that no one will ever consider me a l33t h4x0r for using WordPress, or even for using a CMS at all, but I was absolutely thrilled how fast the second site is going up now that I have built all the templates and functions I need. More reports to come (and hopefully this site will soon be on WordPress, but I am not holding my breath. Still having trouble with brinking over the permalinks so they all work right).