10 Ways To Extend WordPress Beyond Blogging
Even though WordPress was originally intended to be a tool for bloggers, it has impressively grown to include a vast amount of new functions over the course of its existence.
While we expect WordPress will continue to evolve, as well as experience continued growth (it now powers 27 percent of the total internet), read on for some awesome things you can do to extend WordPress beyond what you thought it could do.
1. BUILD MULTIPLE WEBSITES UNDER A SINGLE INSTALLATION
Called WordPress Multisite, this feature allows multiple sites to be built under a single WordPress installation. You can install WordPress once and have as many sites are you want under a single server. No seriously, you can literally build hundreds of sites by just having one WordPress installation.
The advantages of using WordPress Multisite include the ability to run several websites under the same login credentials and storing every theme and plugin just once, which saves space on your site and doesn’t slow it down.
There are some use cases when WordPress Multisite should be used, and some for when it absolutely should not be used. Check out these resources to learn more about creating a network of sites with WordPress: A Beginner’s Guide To WordPress Multisite and The Do’s and Dont’s of WordPress Multisite.
2. TURN WORDPRESS INTO A SOCIAL NETWORK
You don’t need to be a coder to create a social media network, you just need a quality CMS. Whether your goal is to be as big as Facebook or to create a network for your business, starting a social network is super simple with WordPress.
The social network plugin BuddyPress allows you to connect a community with ease. It provides direct messaging, extended profiles, activity streams, user groups and more. All you need to do is install and configure.
If BuddyPress doesn’t fill all your needs, there’s WP Symposium (that supports multi-lingual sites), WP Mingle, and PeepSo. There are also a number of themes you can use that are specifically catered to building a social network.
3. CREATE A FORUM FOR YOUR BRAND’S COMMUNITY
A staple of WordPress is the community. If looking to build a community online to interact with, consider creating a forum. A forum helps your community interact with one another, allows them to express their opinions, and also can help your brand create influencers.
A great way to create a forum or bulletin on WordPress is with the plugin bbPress. An open source, template-driven PHP/MySQL forum software, bbPress brings simplicity rather than bulky forums. See here for a few examples of companies using bbPress to power their online forum.
Some other tools to create a forum in WordPress include wpForo and Asgaros Forum. Along with bbPress, these plugins can help you create a lightweight discussion board that’s easy to manage and integrates with your WordPress site perfectly — just one less thing you have to know how to code from the bottom up.
4. USE SHORTCODES
It may seem impossible to be able to code, without actually…coding. But, with shortcode, you can execute code without writing code. Shortcode is specifically a feature of WordPress that allows you to embed files with much shorter lines of code rather than memorizing multiple lines.
If you’re still not well versed on shortcodes, WordPress has your back with some shortcode plugins, like WordPress Shortcodes and Accordion Shortcodes. Just make sure you know the basics so that your shortcodes aren’t visible from the front-end!
5. BUILD AN ONLINE STORE
Looking to sell your goods online? Rather than fork over cash per item with marketplaces like Etsy, it’s way more affordable (and super easy) to build an ecommerce store with WordPress.
WooCommerce, an extension of WordPress, is one of the most used ecommerce solutions out there (28 percent of all online stores) and makes setting up an online store extremely easy and professional. With almost 20 million downloads and tons of free and paid extensions, this open source platform allows you to simply sell products efficiently.
For more on this topic, see Ecommerce on WordPress: A Getting Started Guide.
6. ADD EXTRA SECURITY FEATURES
While no system is 100 percent secure, WordPress constantly updates its software with security patches, as well as provides a number of plugins to help with things like backups, 2FA, and more.
Some hosting providers, like WP Engine, come with real threat detection, managed patching and updates, and internal security audits for their customers. If looking for a WordPress hosting provider, be sure to read this white paper before you decide on one: 8 Key Security Questions Your Hosting Provider Should Be Able To Answer.
7. MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS
Looking to monetize with WordPress? You might consider building a membership program into your WordPress website to help you get recurring payments. It’s super simple to do and WordPress offers a number of plugins to help you accomplish this.
WooCommerce Memberships, MemberPress, Paid Memberships Pro, and WP-Members: Membership Framework are just some of the plugins you can use to add membership subscriptions to your site. Some are good for selling single subscriptions and others have the capacity to have complicated membership levels. Most offer tons of easy integrations and many payment gateways that work with Paypal, Stripe, and more.
8. PLAY GAMES
We all need a break at times. There are plenty of ways to distract yourself from work, but you can add WordPress gaming plugins to the list. Tetris? Yes please! Super Mario Bros? You got it!
If you have a mini game on your site, your traffic, user retention, and social interaction could increase tremendously. Just make sure it doesn’t affect the site performance or drive away from your brand (it’s probably better to put games on a personal site, blog, or use internally).
9. ENHANCE PERFORMANCE
No, you shouldn’t just create your site and leave it as is. There’s a multitude of things you can do to improve how fast your site loads and how well it performs. Optimizing images, running speed tests and choosing lightweight themes are just some of many things you can do to customize and optimize your site performance on WordPress.
Check out the WordPress speed test tool to see exactly how fast your site is running, along with actionable insights on how to improve the speed of your site.
10. USE WORDPRESS AS A FRAMEWORK
When you didn’t think the CMS could do anymore, WordPress also serves as a full framework for developing web applications on virtually any platform or device, thanks to the WP REST API.
If you need an app up and running quick, WordPress is your best bet because you will already have a head start instead of starting from scratch. Some of the features that make WordPress optimal for building web app are database URL mapping, theming, a great user management module, and easy to use admin panel, allows you to manage and upload media, and more.
Read about just some of the businesses who are fueling results with the REST API today in this white paper.