The WordPress blog software is 11 years old, and over the years it has grown to become more than just a blogging platform. In fact, it has completely outgrown its own purpose. Anyone with access to the internet, can now quickly create a new WordPress website and use it for multiple purposes, rather than just publishing new posts. But, what exactly are these additional use cases? That's what we're going to find out.
WordPress is an open-source content management system, so anyone who can download the installation files is also able to create his own themes, plugins and other modifications. As WordPress grew, more and more people started getting involved with creating awesome stuff for WordPress; and these days you can find tens of thousands of WordPress themes and plugins to use. We will look at how some of these themes and plugins can completely transform a WordPress blog into something else.
1. Good old' Blog
WordPress was built as a blogging platform that later expanded into a massive content management system. Today, there are hundreds of millions of blogs using WordPress to publish and curate content. Large online publications such as Time, and TechCrunch rely on WordPress to power their sites; in a sense, they're traditional blogs with heavy modification on both front-end and back-end.
WordPress is a system for managing content, but because there is so much flexibility and control over how that system works, we can create literally any kind of website. Here we have the Georgia State University; a fully functional university website that's built and modified to specific needs. You can see how different elements can transform the feel of a website.
At first glance, there's no telling whether this site is a static page, or an actual WordPress installation. It actually is a WordPress powered website. Are you into comics or other similar stuff? Take example from Today's Document on how to use WordPress for delivering concise messages in elegant manner. (the website doesn't get updated no more, but it's a very creative example of what's possible to create with WordPress)
You build software, tools, or maybe apps? You need a website framework to create a business website? With enough knowledge in how the front-end technology works, you can easily customize your WordPress installation to look like a professional business website, as seen in the above example of Raven Tools. (could you really tell it's built with WordPress if we didn't tell you?)
Quite a few community websites that you find online have been built with WordPress, and possibly with BuddyPress. One nice example that comes to mind is Fresh Apps; while it seems like a traditional site, there are roughly 40,000 registered members who can contribute to the published apps by making them ‘fresh'. This can only be done if the user is registered, giving you an example of the community aspect that WordPress can bring to your site.
By the way, it's worth looking into WordPress multi-site, which will allow you to create your own blogging network. Host blogs for your friends, family and co-workers; they'll be grateful once they understand the power of words!
6. eCommerce Stores
The big online eCommerce stores (Amazon, BestBuy, etc,.) rely on custom built software, while the rest of the World (or at least, big part of it) use free alternatives; one of which is WordPress. The most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress is WooCommerce (as displayed in the snapshot), and not only is the WooCommerce plugin free – it's highly customizable, and has a very large community support for it. (to this day there have been over 5 million downloads) Board Shorts is a nice example store to take a look at.
7. Private Membership Sites
Are you an educator, perhaps an instructor? Maybe you're just someone who wants to keep all the profits, whatever the case – creating a membership website with WordPress has never been easier. In this example we can take a look at Memberful, a very highly acclaimed membership plugin that's used by websites like Zen Habits. There are, of course, free alternatives available.
8. Online Discussion Board
If you could use BuddyPress to create a social community with WordPress, then you can use bbPress to create an online discussion board in a matter of minutes. The really nice thing is that it automatically integrates with the WordPress style you're using, taking away the hassle of having to build a custom theme. Take a look at Joint Use to see how a forum can be separated from the rest of the site.
9. Jobs Board / Directory
You should by now have realized that the possibilities of building sites with WordPress are pretty much endless, as long as you know what you want – it's probably possible to build. Another type of site you can build with WP is a job board, or a directory. You can take a look at an example job directory theme here, though there are also free plugins available for this as well. (it's all about taxonomies, really)
10. Wiki, Documentation, Knowledge-base
WordPress can be used for business (as already mentioned), but it's not limited to a single type of business. You can easily build hosting sites if you like, and what do many hosting sites have in common? Knowledge bases! Yes, you can easily create your own Wiki-style website with WordPress, all you need is either skills to create your own theme, or a pre-built theme from the public repository. It's that easy.
Type of Websites to Build with WordPress
We've taken a look at some really great examples of what can be done with WordPress, and there should be enough here to keep you busy for a few months. Find some more examples of awesome websites powered by WordPress in our showcase.