5 Reasons Nonprofits Should Use WordPress

Wordpress Logo

Nonprofits have a lot of choices when it comes to content management systems.

There’s Blackbaud NetCommunity, Convio, (the first two are not open source) Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and more… It’s easy to become overwhelmed by those choices. Many of these systems have similarities, and often the right choice comes down to the individual needs of each specific nonprofit, and its technical capacity. All that aside, let’s take a look at why WordPress stands alone as THE open-source CMS choice for nonprofits:

The WordPress Difference

  1. Easy: WordPress is easy to use, from both a user standpoint and a development standpoint. And hey, plenty of nonprofits have found success using WordPress.
  2. Open-Source: WordPress is a true open-source project. It’s powered by thousands of people, and that leads to quick development cycles and innovation.
  3. Flexible: Built with HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL, WordPress grows with the web. And you can do just about anything with it.
  4. Tips, Tutorials and Guidance Galore: WordPress, like any other CMS, can be intimidating when you first dive in. However, once you start cruising the interwebz, you notice plenty of support and places to turn to learn more about WordPress.
  5. True Community: The more I slowly become a part of the WordPress community, the more I’m impressed by the feeling you get once you engage with the folks who are truly passionate about WordPress. That’s really what propels any project onto something bigger and better than most. It’s not just driven solely by profits or client needs, but by passion. Anyone working for a nonprofit can get behind that.

What do you think about nonprofits using WordPress as a content management system? How does it compare to other open-source solutions? Let me know your thoughts.

DK WordPress Theme 3.0

A few months ago, I set a few goals.

One of them was to rebuild this site using WordPress’ 3.0’s custom post types and HTML 5, plus develop a mobile theme. Well, you’re looking at that site. Thanks for the awesome work of the Automattic theme team, I’ve got a new site, coded with HTML5 and mobile ready, with responsive design.

About the New Site

I created the site with Duster as a parent theme, harnessing many of WordPress’ most recent and powerful features. Duster comes HTML5 ready and includes CSS 3 responsive design media queries. It proved to be a great starting point. Other people that deserve credit for inspiration:

The new site brings marked improvements over my old site. I used a child theme, took advantage of WordPress templates and used custom post types and taxonomies.

I learned a ton, and hope to do a couple tutorials in the future.

Creating Content: Finding It Around Every Corner

Creating Content in WordPress

Creating content often becomes an afterthought when planning a website. People want bells and whistles. Interactivity. Innovation. Well, none of that happens without good, solid content.

That was the framework for the lightning talk I gave at last week’s WordPress DC Meetup. If you power through the the quick slideshow I put together below, you’ll see a lot of what I outline is very basic, but embracing the basics first can help you reach beyond the basics. So much about creating content for websites and interactive projects means following a well defined process. Sometimes, that process is one someone else created, something you created or a hybrid of the two. Whichever it is for you, embrace that process and trust it.

You can download the presentation slides on Google Docs.

Extending WordPress Beyond

Last night, I attended a great Meetup with the WordPress DC group.

Mitcho Erlewine gave a talk centered around smart WordPress development. Even though I’m not a developer in the traditional sense, more of a content guy wanting to learn more about code – I found the talk extremely beneficial.

It wasn’t so much a talk about code as a talk about the strategy of code. And everyone can learn from that.

Signal Austin Conversation with Matt Mullenweg

There’s a cool interview up with WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg over on John Battelle’s blog. I heard Matt during a Town Hall with WordPress D.C. last month, and had a blast hearing his perspective on the WordPress, the web and more.

His comments about Twitter, Tumblr and social media are of particular interest here. I love this exchange:

Battelle: I heard blogging was dead.
Matt: Yeah, me too… on a blog.

Blogging still defines much of the web.

31 Resources for Powering a Website with WordPress

Chalk board with "www" on it

If you wish to use WordPress to power your website, you’re lucky. Thousands of people who love and support WordPress have filled the web with tons of resources. I’m going to share my favorites, and segment them by category. I hope they help you. If you have more to add, please do so in the comments.

Resources from WordPress

  • Automattic – The company behind WordPress, and started by WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg.
  • WordPress.com – The free blogging platform created by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.
  • WordPress.org – The free blogging software, available for download and able to be run on a server, and power an entire site.
  • WordPress Documentation – The WordPress Codex has all the relevant details, tricks and tips on how to take advantage of WordPress’ full power.
  • WordPress Showcase – See sites built by WordPress, and discover what it can really do.
  • WordPress Theme Directory – Download free themes for WordPress.
  • Commercial Themes – WordPress also has many premium themes for purchase. Download them here.
  • Plugins – WordPress can be extended by way of plugins. Browse and download those here.

WordPress Design

WordPress Development

Blogs About WordPress

There’s more here at this nice list of 10 as well.

And if you want more great links about WordPress, be sure to follow my Delicious account and this tag.

Photo by JayLopez.

This is the second part of a two part series on Building Websites with WordPress. The first installment covered the strategy needed when considering WordPress as a content management system or blogging platform for your website.

To Use WordPress, or to Not Use WordPress

Wordpress Logo

So you want to use WordPress to build a website, huh?

Good choice, and you’ve come to the right place. This is the first part in a two-part series on using WordPress to build a website.

Why WordPress Works?

WordPress has continued to gain popularity as a CMS (Content Management System). Why?

  • It’s free (You do have to pay for web hosting and a domain name, of course).
  • It’s open source (meaning anyone can contribute to the project’s development).
  • It’s easy to use, and relatively flexible when it comes to options for developing a website.

Granted, other choices exist for content management systems, and you should research all of your options. Drupal and Joomla are two popular CMSs that web designers, web developers and companies seem to favor today.

However, some top corporations, organizations and individuals have selected WordPress to meet their needs. Check out the WordPress showcase to see some of the most inspiring and effective ways to use WordPress.

WordPress as a Better CMS

Also, the WordPress team has just released WordPress 3.0. Developers built in several features that make this new version a more powerful content management system. These include:

  • custom background support.
  • custom menu support.
  • custom content types.
  • custom taxonomies (meaning ways to organize content)

You can read about the new features in a great post by Jeff Star at Digging into WordPress. And for a brief on the new features, you can watch the video above.

Important Questions for Using WordPress as a CMS

Wordpress Dashboard

Once you get an idea of what WordPress can do, you’ll want to ask yourself some important questions:

Why do you want to use it?

Ask yourself that question. Just like any other tool, WordPress has its advantages and disadvantages. From my experience, WordPress works best if you are really into blogging, have a lot of content to manage or will be updating your site frequently.

What’s your design look like?

The first thing you need to do is decide how your site is going to be laid out. This will help you select which theme to use. My advice is to pick a theme that is exactly or as close as possible to your desired layout. This will determine how much modification you need to do.

You can select between both free and commercial themes, available directly from the WordPress website.

A note of caution, it’s always good practice to download themes from the theme directory itself, or from reputable theme developers. Lleland over at ThemeLabs says, “People searching for free themes in Google likely have a more ‘innocent’ mindset and probably don’t even realize the mistake they’re making when they use themes from these random sites.” He’s got some good advice on the issue too, so make sure to give it a read.

Inevitably, you might say, “Dave, I found this premium theme, and it’s cool, but it costs money. What do you think?”

I am generally against premium WordPress themes unless it’s EXACTLY what you need. Many fantastic theme developers have built beautiful and easy-to-use premium themes. So it’s a definite option, and one that could make your life easier. However, there are plenty of free options that can accomplish the same thing, so do your research.


Start with these two questions if you want to use WordPress to build your website. Begin browsing themes, and pick some favorites. Then, be sure to remember these two questions: why do I like this theme and does it allow me to do what I want with my site design-wise?

The next part in the series will be a gigantic resource list for using WordPress to build your website.

This is the first part of a two part series on Building Websites with WordPress. The second installment covers resources you can use for building your site with WordPress.

Welcome to a Brand New Site

Things have been kind of quiet around here. Man, I hate it when blog posts start that way. However, there’s good reason for the silence…

New Look

You’ll notice a brand new site design! I just completed the final tweaks yesterday, and wanted to make the official announcement.

WordPress powers the back-end, and I used Shape by Ian Stewart as a starting point for the custom theme that you see. If you’re looking for a place to dive into WordPress, WordPress theming and more, check out Ian’s site, Themeshaper and its forums. You can learn a lot by browsing around the site.

New sign

Before the redesign, I used Ian’s Thematic to power my site. However, when I decided to create a new site, I wanted to learn more about WordPress theming from scratch, rather than starting with a WordPress theme framework. Shape, this tutorial by Ian, and a few other resources helped me learn a ton.

I hope you enjoy the new site as much I enjoyed creating it.

Story Practitioner Interview

A few weeks before I graduated with my master’s degree in interactive media, Kathy Hansen of A Storied Career interviewed me via email for her series on Story Practitioners. Check out my interview, and the rest of the series for some great insights into modern-day storytelling.