Wordpress Content Strategy & Automation

The 3 most important things when planning a Wordpress site, and how I wrangle them.

1. Content Strategy

You’ve already chosen Wordpress as your CMS. The next step is to theorize a solid content strategy to inform your choice of theme and plugins. Determining what content will be on your site is the first step. Will you need a blog or portfolio? Is your site focused on regular, fresh blog posts? Or will you use it as a web shop for eCommerce?

Here’s are some content types to think about:

eCommerce

eCommerce sites using plugins like Magento or WooCommerce require custom page templates to work nicely.

Portfolio

If you’re creating a portfolio site, you’re in luck. There are lot of Wordpress themes that cater to portfolios. Look for themes that support your type of portfolio content: video, photos or projects.

Blog

If your website is an online magian, for example, there’s a theme for that! If you’re just after a simple, traditional blog layout, there’s a theme for that, too!

Custom Post Types

If you’re like me, you’re anal about organization. A theme that uses Custom Post Types can help you stay organized.

2. Themes

There are lots of aspects to a Wordpress theme that are worth keeping in-mind to create the best site you can.

Here are some of the things I look for:

SEO & Semantics

(If you’re not someone who codes, skip this section!)
 My experience with Wordpress themes has taught me that it’s very easy to find a poorly-coded theme that search engines will have a hard time indexing, thereby damaging your search result rankings. Look for clean, semantic code that utilizes standards and ideally, HTML5 tags such as header, article, section, nav and footer.

Developer Maintenance

When searching for a theme, see if you can find the most recent date of maintenance. While Wordpress themes are relatively standard, Wordpress does make significant changes that can break your theme if it doesn’t support them. When possible, choose a theme that has a solid, regular track-record of updates and developer support.

Weight

Some of the most beautiful themes come with a lot of baggage to make their fanciness work. Be aware of this because the more data your viewer has to load, the slower your site will be. Personally, I prefer themes that are lightweight. This allows me to strategically utilize Plugins for specific functions I need on an ad-hoc basis.

3. Plugins

DRY: Don’t Repeat Yourself

DRY is an acronym that modern web developers live by. But there’s no reason they should have all the fun. In essence, it means that if you’re got a piece of content in one place, then don’t duplicate it into another place.

DRY Example

I wanted to show code snippets for two of my portfolio projects: the 3D Book Builder and the CSS3 Calculator. I already had the code on my computer, so I could have just copied it into each portfolio item within Wordpress.

The problem was, that isn’t DRY because it creates two copies of the same thing which increases maintenance. I use a remote code repository called GitHub, so instead of duplicating the code by pasting it into my portfolio project, I created a GitHub repository with the code and then found a plugin that would pull the code directly from GitHub and show it in my portfolio project.

Now I have a single, centralized source for this piece of (code) content which I can edit at the source, and all my edits are automatically reflected in my portfolio projects. I don’t have to remember to update the code on my portfolio because it’s setup to do it automatically.

Content Aggregation

The beauty of any CMS is that content is ‘designed’ to be centralized and therefore retrievable under most scenarios. For example, your Wordpress blog posts can be listed by title using the default Posts widget in a sidebar. This ‘aggregates’ your posts into a different format, in a different place without having to manually edit the list of posts.

That core concept can save a LOT of time maintaining content on your Wordpress site. Take advantage of it.

Modularity

Sometimes it makes sense to choose a Plugin to do the heavy-lifting instead of relying on theme support for certain features. Separating functionality like this allows your Wordpress website’s back-end to be modular. In most cases, delegating functionality to a plugin can allow your to change your theme in the future with little or no downside.