Building a website using the WordPress content management system

SimonGeneral12 Comments

Many bloggers will be familiar with the WordPress open source content management system. But WordPress can do much more than just run a blog – I’ve just used it to launch a “traditional” static website, complete with password-protected members’ area and some extra database goodies to boot.

The site I built, on behalf of client British Marine Electronics Association (BMEA), is at It is intended for members of the association (who have access to member-specific news, content and feeds), prospective members and customers buying marine electronic equipment.

BMEA website

The beauty of the WordPress system is that it provides a simple system for managing content, as well as allowing delegation of content editing rights to clients. Its other real benefit is its extendability – there are thousands of plugins available that extend what the system can do – I’ve used plenty of plugins on the BMEA website, especially to provide the searchable database of BMEA members.

As WordPress is designed as a blogging platform you have to approach building a static site in a slightly different way. The bulk of the static content on the site is set up as pages, with the news area set up as posts. On a blog it’s the other way round – most content is posts with a few static pages.

The main plug-in behind the members’ area and database is Cimy Extra Fields. This plug-in allows administrator to add extra fields to the users that are set up in WordPress – I’ve used this to hold all the extra data about member organisations, such as extra contact details, region and the list of products and services supplied (example here).

The plug-in itself allowed me to set up users in the administrator area, but my PHP skills weren’t up to coding the front-end PHP for templates to allow retrieval and searching of member information. The plug-in authors produced me some extra PHP for my templates to do just this – the result is an effective member search facility.

If you’re looking to do something similar in WordPress I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with Cimatti Consulting – the combination of their free plug-in and bespoke coding means there are few limits to creating custom user data and search for your website.

I’ve also used a really powerful plug-in called Who Sees Ads to control the appearance of various advertising slots around the site (although most are disabled at the moment so you may not spot many).

This plug-in allows the administrator to set conditions (referred to as “contexts”) to determine whether a particular piece of content is displayed or not displayed. The criteria on which you can set conditions are really wide ranging, including things like whether the visitor has come from a search engine, whether they have been on the site before (once or a set number of times), the age of the content on the page, or indeed any condition that can be coded in WordPress (eg is(home) to return true if the page is the homepage).

The content that can be displayed can be any piece of HTML code. As the name suggests it’s designed for displaying adverts, but equally could be used to customise editorial content on a site or present a welcome message to visitors who haven’t been to a site before. There are similar WordPress plug-ins to do this, but Who Sees Ads seems to be the most flexible that I’ve seen.

The full list of plug-ins used on the BMEA site is available here: (thanks to a handy plug-in called WPPluginsUsed).

The BMEA site design was produced by Nick at Tinderhouse, with XHTML/CSS coding by PSD2HTML.

[tags]cms, website+development, BMEA, tinderhouse, cimy+extra+fields, who+sees+ads[/tags]

12 Comments on “Building a website using the WordPress content management system”

  1. Marine Services

    Thanks for this post Simon. I’m a beginning WordPress user/designer and I feel this will help me a lot exploring things more and better in my future use of WordPress for any project that comes up.

    – Kelly

  2. Simon

    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for your comment – I’m glad you found the post useful.

    WordPress continues to go from strength to strength for many websites – so good luck!


  3. Shane

    I’m definitely trying WordPress as CMS. I’ve invested a lot of time in using Joomla, but its just too slow once you add all those plug-ins.

  4. birgit

    Hi Simon
    thanks for the info. I have just set up my pr company and like you also work for local government (but in Australia). I am just going through the process of deciding which CMS/platform to use for my website and was looking at WordPress so this is very helpful.
    I am also completing my Masters by researching the best way(s) for local government to use of Web 2.0 tools for engagement – so your site is very useful for that too. Given Web 2.0 is one of my interests I consider my business website should showcase some of its uses.
    Thanks for sharing all your good ideas and experience.

  5. Pam

    Hi, sorry to dredge up an old posting but I was just wondering about the member search facility. You say that Cimatti made some php files for you, but it seems to be html code that they added? I really love the simplicity of the bmea site and would like to do something similar.

  6. Pam

    Back again just to say I’ve finished the website I was working on for an electrolysis non-profit and it really was easy using WordPress as the cms. I tried the Cimy plugin and bought a custom template for the member directory but it was a bit too difficult to tweak in the end so I used a plugin called List Category Posts instead. Thanks again for your original post, I never would have even thought about using WP otherwise.

  7. Pingback: Web design via Wordpress | ToolCentric

  8. Megan McDonald

    I normally make up photoshop website designs and then chop them up into HTML websites. I show my client a screen shot of a couple of different designs before making it into a fully functional website in Dreamweaver.

    I would like to start working with wordpress and themes – that are slightly changed to suit the clients logo and colors but cant work out how to show the client how it would look without fully building the wordpress website, adding a theme and making small CSS changes.

    any ideas on how you show a client the look of a wordpress website if you are going to use a slightly modified theme or template?

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