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October 31, 2007

The rise of Wordpress for ‘Non-Blogs’

Posted in: Examples, Opinion, Designers, Companies

And by non-blogs I mean portfolios, magazines, communities - essentially anything that doesn’t tend to come under the banner of a blog. You get the idea. I aim to showcase some of my favourite Wordpress powered sites that don’t follow the traditional layout. And following that, I’ll explore why these sites have deviated from the mean.

Straight to the juice…

I wouldn’t want to keep you waiting for some examples, would I?

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Jen Gordon’s portfolio oozes character and flair. Her Wordpress install powers the portfolio, page hierarchy and her blog.

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ComplementaryDuo mixes portfolio and blog effortlessly.

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Darren Hoyt shows off his brilliant design talent. Definitely not ‘just another Wordpress blog.’

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(Possibly NSFW - partial nudity) Who would have guessed this was Wordpress at work? Surely the most non-bloggy WP install yet.

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Directory/Downloads with a touch of class.

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Why not power an online shop?


So is a Wordpress site just another blog?

A lot of people assume that installing Wordpress on their site will churn out ‘just another blog.’ Even worse, I often hear that ‘all Wordpress blogs look the same’ and ‘I can tell if a blog uses Wordpress.’ Far from it, as shown above. People do have a point, and I guess Wordpress theming is to blame to some extent. But the flip-side of the coin is that Wordpress provides the possibility of simple publishing to the masses. It’s as simple to write to a blog as it is to write a document on your computer. The fact that some themes have become ultra-popular is not the fault of Wordpress, theme authors or bloggers. Anyway, with a lot of sites looking the same, the crème de la crème stand out even more. Wordpress is simply the technology, the front-end is dictated by the designer.

A few words on Wordpress as a CMS (Content Management System)

Before you rant, I’m not touting Wordpress as the best publishing tool - it is simply the one of which I’m most familiar with. The following can most probably be associated with all the popular publishing engines.

Wordpress was launched as a tool for blogging. So why is it now used for so many more applications? I think that the answer may lie in its community and its codex.

The community have themed for several years now alongside creating plugin after plugin. It was inevitable that some features have made advances into the realm of CMS and publishing in general, as opposed to simply blogging. Some features (including using any page for the homepage and hierarchical pages) found their way into the out-of-the-box version and suddenly Wordpress is available to the masses as a basic (but not perfect) CMS.

Secondly, the codex provides a minimal-jargon documentation of the system, with examples on nearly every page. Detailed instructions are given on template tags, with examples for how to use each one. This level of information with regards to theming was bound to give rise to more intricate layouts.

I want!

This wasn’t intended as a tutorial for making a non-bloggy theme. There are plenty of theme’s out there for you to dissect, including my recommendations:

On your soapbox. Would you like to comment?

Seen a clever or innovative use of Wordpress? Perhaps you’d like to comment on the sites above? Or chime in on why people choose Wordpress over other tools to publish different types of content? Let me know where your head’s at.

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