According to Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.” The Guide goes on to say, “There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
This may explain the First World’s fascination in recent years with blogging. It seems that everyone has a blog—why else would you have a website if not to regale the world with your incomprehensible and misspelled musings? What else is WordPress good for?
OK, so you do have better things to do with your website. Because of WordPress’ origins as a blogging platform it’s hard to tell sometimes, but you can build any kind of website with WordPress, no blogging required. The community of WordPress developers has been working hard over the last few years to expand the platform for general-purpose websites, and this expansion is further enhanced with the availability of third-party plug-ins and themes for just about any website purpose you can think of.
Recent versions of WordPress, therefore, have a number of built-in features that are not specifically for blogging. These features require no customization, no downloading or installation beyond the standard WordPress software, and little or no configuration. Here are some of the most useful of these features:
WordPress enables you to modify certain aspects of any theme without coding of any kind. Select colors, set the site title and tagline, specify header and background images, and more with a simple point-and-click interface.
Live Theme Preview
If you are building a WordPress theme from scratch, modifying an existing theme (perhaps with the theme customizer), or even just thinking about switching to a new theme, you will want to know what it looks like from a visitor’s perspective. With the Live Theme Preview feature, you can generate a preview of any theme at any time.
WordPress comes with a built-in basic video player for videos hosted on your site. Although fancier video players are available by way of third-party plugins, the basic player may be all you need. It comes with the standard user controls (play/pause, volume/mute, progress bar) and enables you (the site owner) to specify the size, select the initial image, and select whether the video auto-plays on loading, among other options.
For videos that aren’t hosted on your site—namely, those hosted on YouTube—embedding them on a page is as simple as pasting the YouTube link onto the page. WordPress will render the standard YouTube player right into the page.
Visibility to Search Engines
When you are building your site and testing it, you might not be ready for search engines to find it. You can set your site to disallow search engine spiders from indexing your site. (It’s actually only a request; the search engines themselves choose whether to honor the request. Most do.) Then, when you are ready to launch, simply turn it on, and let the spiders do their thing. A word of caution, however: If you turn the spiders away for a site that is already live, your site may disappear from the search engine indexes. This feature is really intended only for pre-launch development and testing.
Running different websites or similar sites for different audiences, perhaps in different languages? Not a problem: A single WordPress installation can support as many sites as you need.
All of these features are ready to use, right out of the box. Of course, WordPress also makes it easy for developers to create even more useful features specifically for your site, either for presentation to users, or for the back-end management interface. So, if you need something that’s not a built-in WordPress feature, don’t panic—just talk to your web developer.