What’s a CMS?
A CMS is a Content Management System. It refers to any type of software with which you can manage files and documents, produced and maintained by one or more people. This includes content for the Web. The term is often taken to mean software for managing web site content exclusively.
But Isn’t WordPress a Blogging Platform?
WordPress is labelled as a blogging platform, but technically speaking, it’s capable of managing pretty much any type of web content. While WordPress is not a full-blown CMS out of the box, it has customization features that allow it to be more powerful than just a blog management tool. In particular, WordPress offers at least the following means of getting more out of the platform than just publishing blogs:
- Custom PHP/ WordPress code. Tweak your code in WP theme template files. This way, you can apply special functionality in certain types of pages and not others.
- Custom fields. Custom Fields are a very significant part of using WordPress as a CMS. They allow you to record additional information about users, interactions, content and more.
- Embedded code. Within the body of a WP blog post, you can embed PHP code. If you’ve installed and activated a WP plugin such as Exec-PHP, then that embedded code will be run whenever the post’s web page is viewed.
- Plug and play code. In addition to custom code, you can integrate WP interaction with other web applications, running outside of WordPress, either on the same web server or elsewhere. For example, you could set up a Yahoo Pipe and manage the resulting item feed from within WordPress, using custom code.
- Custom plugins. If you produce custom tweaks using any of the above methods, you could encapsulate all the functionality into a WP plugin. That way, it’s relatively easy to port the functionality to other WordPress-driven blogs and sites.
So What Kind of Sites Can WordPress as a CMS Manage?
With a full-blown CMS, you can manage the content for pretty much any type of website. If you apply the above WP customization methods and factor in hardware support tweaks, WordPress can be nearly as powerful as many commercial CMSes that cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. What’s more, Automattic is moving WordPress into the social networking sphere. Now, you can get even more functionality by using WPMU (WordPress Multi-User) and the BuddyPress social network platform. This combo allows you to have a social network that provides blogs for each member.
For some inspiration on some of the ways that you can use WordPress, see Performancing’s 48 Unique Ways to Use WordPress.