WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. But in non-geek speak, it’s probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (CMS) in existence today.
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.
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.
Alternatively, there’s Easy Digital Downloads, iThemes Exchange, and the Shopify eCommerce Plugin if you’re looking to create an online store.