Category Archives: Showcase

Creative Uses for WordPress

WordPress is most known as the world’s most influential and popular blogging framework.  However, it can be used in some really creative ways.  Ways that stretch conventional uses and, at times, push the WordPress core to it’s limits.  So why use WordPress to create something really creative?  It’s a blogging engine, not a blank slate for your wildest dreams.  I’ve found, it actually IS a blank slate.  Although it comes pre-packaged with lots of features as a powerful blogging tool, it is quite simple and versatile out of the box.

I have started multiple web projects that had very little need for a blogging feature, but I’ve chosen to build the application on WordPress because it makes creating and managing dynamic content very easy.  The following are examples of some creative and innovative uses for WordPress.  Have an example I missed?  Leave a comment below.

WordPress as a Wiki

Wikis were made famous by sites like Wikipedia, the community-managed encyclopedia.  They are essentially user-moderated content pages that can be used for any collaborative project.

Popular URL Aggregator

Some of the famous examples include PopURL and AllTop.  These are just RSS feeds essentially, aggregated and moderated for quality content.

alltop

WordPress as an Image Sharing site

A popular example of this includes ffffound, an open image sharing site that no longer accepts new registrations.

WordPress as a Contact Manager

There are lots of reasons to manage contacts with a WordPress site.  It can also act as a CRM.  I once built a contact manager for an agency with about 100 employees that wanted help keeping track of them.

contact manager

As a membership Directory

Similar to a contact manager, a membership directory offers some features designed to interact with members.  Such as signing up and managing one’s own profile.  This opens up a world of pay-for-membership opportunities.

WordPress as a Twitter clone

I don’t quite see the utility of creating a twitter clone.  But I suppose this could be useful for busy tech support departments or other situations in which contacts must be made quickly and publicly.

twitter clone

WordPress as a Forum

One of the most ubiquitous features of a web site is a forum.  A forum provides an organized way to discuss or ask questions while allowing others to see the content.  Forums were made popular with support services because they reduced call/email volume by allowing people to see the solution to their problems immediately.

As a News Aggregator

Be careful with news aggregators.  Some sites just compile content from other people’s sites and it makes for lame, useless content.  When done well, and tastefully, people can compile interesting news from their niche of interest.

news

WordPress as an Invoicing System

Run a freelancing business from your WordPress site?  Why not integrate your billing as well?  There are plugins that allow you to bill customers, accept payment and track outstanding invoices easily within WordPress.

WordPress as a Job Board

WordPress can do one thing exceptionally well: build community.  With that community you can disseminate information, gather information, or even publish job listings.  This works best if your website already has authority related to an issue.

wpjobboard

As a social bookmarking service

WordPress can be used like Digg, Reddit, or other similar social bookmarking services through which people can share interesting content and vote it up or down.  Again, hard to break into this service unless your site already has authority and ranking.

WordPress as an Auction Site

Yea, it can do that.  Some plugins let you turn WordPress into an eBay clone, or at least the major features.  Find your niche and become the vertical market auction site of your choice.

wpauctions

What did I miss?  I’d like to hear about other wild and crazy ways people are using WordPress to break the mold.

 

 

WordPress Design Trends for June 2013

WordPress evolves at a steady and predictable pace.  This is a nice feature of the core WordPress.org project.  Since version 1.5, the theme system has allowed designers and WordPress admins to create cutting edge designs that are portable across almost any WordPress site.  With a virtually instantly available design, administrators can change the overall look in a heartbeat.  As WordPress evolved, the theme engine allowed people to install a framework and customize it quickly and easily without affecting the core code.

Even though modifications became easy to do, the theme system created enormous competition for designs.  With the ability to download a theme that is ready to go out of the box, designers were forced to get creative.  Now it seems as though there is a WordPress theme shop next to every Starbucks (that is to say, on every corner, ubiquitous).

With a vibrant theme community, designers have to adapt quickly to changing trends.  And boy do they change quickly.  Here are some of my favorite design trends that have emerged in this first half of 2013.  If the first have is any indication, the second half of 2013 will be incredible.

Responsive Designs (vs. mobile)

responsive

When mobile devices were first starting to be built with enough oomph to handle modern web applications, designers had to think quickly and incorporate mobile designs in good WordPress themes.  Initially, each standard theme came packaged with a corresponding mobile theme.  This mobile theme was compatible with the ipad and blackberry devices.  Then the iPad came out and changed everything.  Designs were faced with a decision to add a third layout to their themes (some chose this path) or develop a new way to handle different screen resolutions elegantly.  In 2013, responsive designs really came into their own.

Responsive designs (in case you’ve been living under a rock, trying to get Joomla to work for the last year) is concept that allows a design to scale in all sizes.  Although scaling and moving elements may change how the site looks, it won’t distort, squeez, squish or otherwise befuddle your design.

Specialized mobile navigation

mobile nav

In concert with the advent of responsive designs, WordPress custom menus allow designers to create a menu that is only to be used for mobile browsers.  This doesn’t matter if you only have 3 menu items.  But scrolling through 10 menu items and their 50 sub-items can be frustrating on a mobile device.  So frustrating you can easily lose visitors.  Developing a mobile menu can resolve this frustration.  A restaurant I recently worked with has a full menu for standard browsing, but the mobile menu only offers information on their story, location and menu.  The three critical pieces of information for the mobile user.

Media-centric designs

media-centric design

With more households having high speed internet, and mobile device load time improving for that matter, design limitations have decreased.  I remember using AOL as my browser, with a 14.4kpbs modem to browse the web.  When I came across a website with lots of images, I had to either go run an errand, or look elsewhere.  Not anymore.  2013 designs are riddled with high-resolution images.  Not just as content, but as design elements.  New media-centric designs focus on the media, not the structure.  Examples include sites with entire backgrounds taken up by high-res images.  Without the featured images, there wouldn’t be much to the design, in fact.

Single-page designs

single page design

Single-page designs have really taken off this year.  A couple of things make this possible.  First, the web design community as a whole is moving back toward simplicity.  Simple sites mean more focus on content.  Second, the evolution of infinite scrolling technology has made single-page designs more realistic since all of your content can eventually be displayed without navigating.  This is most effective with two types of websites: 1) those with minimal content (business or splash type pages) and 2) those with socially generated content or a steady flow of content (read: Facebook, Pinterest, traditional blogs).  A cool design element that I’m keeping my eye on is called Parallax Scrolling, see an example.  Parallax connects the scrolling action to other design elements.  Scroll in the example and watch the navigation menu.  Check out OnePageLove.com, a gallery dedicated to single page designs.

Custom fonts

custom fonts

Custom fonts are not new in 2013, but they are quickly becoming the standard.  It used to be there was one choice for font, then a few, then limited to your browser’s capabilities.  Now, due to evolving browsers and the beauty of CSS3, virtually any font can be packaged with a WordPress theme.  This has opened the floodgates for designers that were previously limited to Times New Roman and -GASP- Comic Sans.  I personally never realized how much of an impact a font could have on the overall design feel.  Then Google Fonts muscled into web design and my eyes opened in a totally different way.  Thanks to Theme.fm for the above image.

What is your favorite WordPress design trend for 2013?

 

 

Amazing Designs: WordPress Examples for 2012

It’s time for amazing designs: WordPress examples for 2012.  It might be redundant and completely duplicative to say WordPress is the absolute best publishing platform that exists today.  The following are some amazing WordPress designs.  Some are themes that are available and some are completely custom designs.  Either way, these 2012 WordPress examples serve as excellent inspiration for your next WordPress design.  You may also find this post about big websites using WordPress interesting.

Introducing the Pingable collection on Themeforest

We are constantly watching for amazing new WordPress themes that are both free and commercial.  One of the places we look for new talent is ThemeForest, a marketplace for all sorts of web themes.  When we find something exceptional, we add it to the Pingable collection.  Check out the Pingable collection periodically for new, stunning WordPress themes.

Check out the Themeforest collection here.

10 recent trends in WordPress themes

WordPress themes have come a long way. As the exceptional WordPress team builds in more and more features, they give web designers tons of options for creativity and innovation in theme design. We hope that this post brings up trends in WordPress themes that you have noticed, but didn’t know you noticed.


People are really digging the simple, white background themes. Maybe we are all moving on from the flashy website phase and into the simple-is-better phase.


Social media is all the rage. Every blog now has a Twitter Bird and an orange RSS image somewhere above the fold. This is the bare minimum, there is typically many more options for sharing their content.


Contextual themes are becoming more popular. These are the themes that look like they belong somewhere like on someone's desk or in a notebook.


I know we just talked about white being popular, but so is tasteful use of color. Not just a colored background, but a range of popping, eye-catching colors.


Having various style sheets is quickly becoming a standard feature of premium/commercial WordPress themes. Not only does thi smean color options, but full dashboard settings pages to change how your theme behaves. A word of warning to the WordPress developers and theme creators: DON'T BECOME LIKE JOOMLA!


Rounded corners are popular recently. They do give a theme a nice, futuristic, smooth look. But they can easily be over-done.


Shadows or drop-shadows have started giving themes a nice 3-dimensional affect; giving the feeling that the content is sitting out from the page, drawing your attention to the meat of the blog.


Sliders are also growing in popularity. They offer a nice way to display content and the images that blogs are now starting to rely more and more on


Green is the new black. Or is it pink? Anyway, the green movement is sweeping the globe and WordPress is no exception. Eco themes are coming out everywhere, although this may been seen as greenwashing.


Glowing elements are a popular theme among themes. This is definitely a nice touch, but can destract from both content and other, more subtle, design elements.

The big list of big boys using WordPress

WordPress is so immensely popular that even some monster sites and companies are using it to manage their content.  From blogs to portals, these big boys have chosen WordPress.  Can you blame them?

If you like this post, you’ll probably like this one: 20 Reasons WordPress Gives Us Goosebumps

Where are the links? This list will grow so big that there would be too many links on this post to be search engine optimized.

  • Google
  • New York Times
  • Martha Stewart
  • Yahoo!
  • Playstation
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Meebo
  • Flickr
  • Rolling Stone
  • CNN
  • Smashing Magazine
  • TechCrunch
  • British Prime Minister
  • Ebay
  • Digg
  • Ford
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Sony
  • People
  • Samsung
  • Wired Magazine
  • Mozilla
  • Network Solutions
  • Download.com
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Cpanel
  • GE
  • Rackspace
  • Perez Hilton
  • ProBlogger
  • Copyblogger
  • Mashable
  • Engadget
  • TMZ
  • Huffington Post
  • Treehugger
  • BoingBoing
  • Gizmodo
  • A list apart
  • I can haz cheeseburger?
  • PostSecret
  • DailyKos
  • Watts up with that?
  • Hackland
  • And so many more

Sources:

  • http://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/21-popular-brands-that-are-using-wordpress/
  • http://en.wordpress.com/stats/
  • http://royal.pingdom.com/2009/01/15/the-blog-platforms-of-choice-among-the-top-100-blogs/