WordPress is a powerful blogging platform, this we know. And blogging started as a means to distribute information quickly and easily. Some might argue blogging changed the internet, and turned it into something useful to the non-nerd. As both WordPress and the internet have evolved, they have become so much more than tools to disseminate text. WordPress has evolved along with the web as a means of managing and distributing media. If done right, WordPress can be as powerful as any custom-made or commercial solution for media management. The following are tools and methods for building a media powerhouse on top of the WordPress framework.
1. Use the Core
WordPress has come with a pretty powerful media management tool built in since version 2.5 (and has evolved with each subsequent version, significantly so in version 3.0). The media library lets you upload media, manage some of the descriptors and parameters, and attach it to content. This is particularly useful for themes built around media display.
2. Enhance the Core with a Plugin
The freely available Media Library Assistant Plugin artfully expands the functions of the core media library. It adds some impressive features such as bulk editing, a powerful gallery, taxonomy support and other reporting. This might be my next go-to plugin when building a media-driven WordPress site. Some of these features could certainly be considered for a future version of the core, but in order to keep things slim, why not leave it to the plugin developers to keep it lively?
3. Enhance with a Theme
WordPress themes have come so far over the years. Head over to your favorite premium theme provider, we like Themeforest. And pick out a premium quality theme that is built to manage and display media. Some themes are built for static media like images, others for video and even audio. Some select themes are good for displaying all types of media but choose them carefully to ensure they support your preferred media types. Also be sure users with all different types of technology can enjoy your site. (ie: tablets running safari vs. tablets running Chrome vs. laptops running Firefox)
4. Integrate with media services
Most internet users manage, browse and share media from social networking sites like Facebook, and media sharing sites like Flickr. WordPress has the capability to fully integrate with these services using third party plugins. This is a two way street, if your site is focused on distributing media, you can use a plugin to share your media with sites like Flickr. If your site relies on media from other sources, make sure it is easy to pull it in from outside. The Media Manager Plus plugin lets you do just that, pull media in easily from sites like Flicker, 500px and Instagram.
5. Embed Media like a Pro
WordPress is very good at inserting static media. Embedding videos and audio or streaming media can take more effort and not work consistently. This pro plugin, called Cincopa, is built to make that process easier. The basic version is free but limited, specifically around storage capacity and file size. Cincopa lets you upload, edit (resize), encode, distribute, track and even skin video files via WordPress. The company claims their easy to use wizard is intuitive and makes the process of managing video quick and easy. They include support for the major media players which is nice to know. They also let you display media in galleries easily, which WordPress does not do well (for video files) and does very well (for image files). Cincopa comes prepackaged with 40 skins which should work for most, but not all.
Did I miss some key media management feature? Please share it in the comments below. We read every one!