WordPress gets continually easier to use as a CMS (Content Management System) which is good news for churches who want an easy to use platform for their internet presence. Yesterday I upgraded the Northwest website to the latest version (WordPress 2.6.2) and the upgrade went very smoothly. With the size and complexity of our site I was expecting the upgrade to cause a number of serious headaches. I was pleasantly surprised. There is a video clip prepared by the people at WordPress detailing some of the new features in WordPress. The clip can be accessed here, but it does not work well in Internet Explorer – use Firefox instead.
The following are some of the features that I like in the current version of WordPress (2.6.2).
1. In general the management interface for WordPress is much cleaner and easier to use. The layout is more intelligible, the design is cleaner and the colors are more aesthetically pleasing with lots of white space.
2. Plugin management has been reorganized. Plugins in current use are visually separated from inactive ones. Plugins can be updated directly from the plugin management page (no more uploading them manually via ftp). All this gives the webmaster a much easier time managing plugins: which ones are being used, which ones are in need of updating, doing the updating etc.
Here are several more plugins that I have discovered along the way that help make life easier for the church that wants to use WordPress as a full-featured CMS.
Sermon Browser: One of the features that many churches look for is the ability to place audio and video material on their website for others to access and benefit by. Sermon Browser was designed for just that. It is still in beta form but seems to be working well. Here is a link to the website of a church that is using it http://www.bethel-clydach.co.uk/index.php.
RefTagger: Our friends at Logos Bible Software have also created a plugin for WordPress that allows all Scripture references on one’s site to be linked to the full text of the passage. Check out John 3:16 (just hover over it). Here is a quote from their website:
RefTagger is an amazing, free new web tool that instantly makes all the Bible references on your site come alive! Bare links turn into hyperlinks to the full text of the passage at Bible.Logos.com, making it easy for your readers to access the text of Scripture with just a click. Even better, RefTagger brings the text right to your readers by generating a tooltip window that pops up instantly when they hover over the reference. You can also have RefTagger add an icon that is hyperlinked to the passage in Libronix—ideal if many of your readers use Logos.”
Simple:Press Forum is a full featured forum application that works as a plugin for WordPress. I have just begun using it on a personal website and it seems to be just what I have been looking for.
CQS Reloaded: This is a powerful little plugin that allows one to determine how many posts will appear at one time in a given WordPress section or category. For example, if one wants visitors to their site to only see the current article on the home page but multiple articles on an archives page or as many as possible on a search page, this is the plugin to use. If one has category templates designed for their website they can determine a precise number of posts for each category.
Page restrict: Suppose a website has one (or several) page that you would like only logged-in members to access. This plugin gives that kind of control.
Simple Tags: If a person is into using the new tagging feature in WordPress 2.6.2 this plugin gives a whole bunch of options and features for managing tags. Both the Northwest website as well as Mark Naylor’s blog use this tagging feature. See the bottom of this page.
The following two plugins are ones that I use on both Larry Perkin’s and Mark Naylor’s blogs. They are particularly useful if a visitor to the site wants to either email a copy of an article to someone or if they want to print up a hard copy for themselves.
WP-Email: Here is the read-me information.
WP-Print: Here is the read-me information.
WP-DBBackup: This is a valuable plugin for the many management tasks one might want to perform on the site’s database. This plugin, however, must be used with great care. I completely messed up one of my websites by not being careful. Here is the read-me information.
Feel free to interact witn me on this topic. What have you found helpful for your church website?