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Five WordPress “CMS Enabling” Plugins

Plugin 1: Filosofo Home-Page Control

The first thing that stumps most people when trying to use WordPress as a CMS is how to stop blog posts showing up as the home page. If you’re going to use WordPress to create a typical website, it’s unlikely that you’ll want blog posts as the first thing people see.

This is where Filosofo’sHome-Page Control” plugin comes in handy. This plugin lets you specify any WordPress page to use as your home page. You can then bump all blogging components into a sub folder such as “”. The beauty of this plugin is you can select any of your WordPress pages to set as your home page, without having to fumble with a “home.php” file in your theme directory. Everything can be handled through the WordPress admin interface. Perfect.

Plugin 2: Fold Page List

Most simple blogs tend not to have a complex hierarchy of paged content. Full blown websites however, generally do. Most websites rely upon a well thought out navigation system that makes it very clear which section and page the user is currently in.

WordPress has a built in function called “wp_list_pages” that will generate a nice nested list of all of your pages, which you can then style with some CSS. Hey presto, there’s your navigation. Only trouble is, once you get into pages more than one level deep, you start encountering problems.
Say for instance you use a tabbed navigation system on your website. Even if you are three levels deep, you still want the top level tab to be highlighted. WordPress’ “wp_list_pages” function will set a CSS class on the list item for the current page you are viewing. Great, that page can be highlighted no problem, but what about all the page’s ancestors right up to the first level tab? No go. They’re left out in the cold with no CSS class in sight. Here’s where the “Fold Page List” plugin comes into play.

By using the fold page plugin’s provided function instead of WordPress’ “wp_list_pages” you can get around this problem. Even if you are three page levels deep you can be sure that the page’s ancestors will always have a CSS class applied for you to highlight them accordingly. Very handy indeed, and it even uses the same parameters as “wp_list_pages”.

Plugin 3: Search Everything

When you’re using WordPress for a simple blog, you really only want people to be able to search your blog posts to find the information they want. Your static pages might only consist of a simple about page, or an archives page, and who wants to search those?

Things are a little different when you’re using WordPress as a CMS. Generally speaking, you’ll probably want pages to be the first thing that WordPress searches. If you’ve got a site with hundreds of static pages, having a search tool that can scan these pages will become a very handy tool in your site’s belt.

Out of the box, WordPress will only search your blog posts. No good for a CMS. Thankfully there is the “search everything” plugin from Dan Cameron. Drop in this plugin and you’ll be given a set of admin options that lets you customize what type of content WordPress will scan for matching results. You have a whole host of options including pages and even posted comments. Combine this plugin with Media Projekt’s search hilite plugin, and you’ll have the search tool you always dreamed of.

Plugin 4: Role Manager

WordPress comes bundled with five generic user roles, each one allowing greater control of the site through the administration interface. Trouble is, these roles are very “blog-centric” and focus mainly on the ability to create and publish blog posts.

If you’re using WordPress as a CMS, you’re likely to want the ability to finely tune what a client, or other administrators can and can’t do. For instance, you might want someone to be able to edit and update pages, but not add or delete them. Or, someone could be in charge of keeping external links up to date, so they would only get access to the WordPress link administration section. The combinations are endless.

Red Alt’s role manager provides this level of functionality in WordPress. Drop in this plugin and you’ll be creating custom roles in seconds. It comes with a very slick AJAX interface, and let’s you see all permission capabilities at a glance. This plugin takes account management to a new level.

Plugin 5: Site-map Generator

On to number five. No standard website is complete without some sort of site-map. Site-maps allow visitors to get a quick overview of all the pages in your website, as well as giving search engine robots an easy path to indexing all of your content.

The site-map generator plugin from Dagon Design will generate a full site map based on your WordPress page hierarchy. You’re presented with quite a few options through the admin interface, such as including blog posts in the hierarchy and paginating the site-map in various ways.

The beauty of a generated site-map is you can turn it on and leave it alone, safe in the knowledge that it will reflect any changes to your site’s content. A definite must-have plugin for any size website.

Try this at Home

So, there are the five plugins that I have personally found the most useful. If you are yet to use WordPress as a CMS, I would whole-heartedly say go for it! I was skeptical at first, as I only saw WordPress as a blogging tool. Once you start digging deeper, you’ll begin to realize that this is the way WordPress will be progressing.

I’ve just finished my fourth site using WordPress as a CMS, and more and more I wish I’d started sooner. Plus, the more you use it, the better you get. My site build time has rapidly decreased just from creating those four sites. Now all that’s left is to convert this site over!

Finally, I’m almost positive that in a year or so, WordPress will be considered a CMS with a blogging tool, rather than a blogging tool you can use as a CMS. Only time will tell I suppose, but version 2.1 seems to be moving in that direction.

Published by Andy Peatling

Automattic Inc, open source contributor, and bogey golfer.

116 thoughts on “Five WordPress “CMS Enabling” Plugins

  1. I love using WP as CMS. Also customers who have no experience in creating and managing web sites can learn the system in just about one hour.

    Good article. I would like to transfer it into German and publish it on my site (with a link to the original, of course). Is this okay for you?

  2. Felix, I agree, the admin interface for WordPress is very intuitive. It’s simple for any person to pick up and use with little training. Plus, the rich text editor makes formatting simple for clients too.

    Go ahead and translate, not a problem!

  3. Andy, this is really cool. Been hunting for stuff on using WordPress as a CMS ‘cos well, I’m just a li’l lazy…lol.

    This is a good piece. I am so digging it.

  4. Thanks Andy for the mention of Fold Page List (FPL)… and I’m happy you find it useful enough to include it here.

    I’ve just released an update (version 1.6) that should make page navigation via drop-down menus in WordPress easier to achieve. The new version will optionally output the complete page hierarchy, fully styled and thereby allowing CSS-based drop-downs through judicious use of the FPL generated classes in the stylesheet.

    Thanks again


  5. Andy,

    I’m not sure how I stumbled across this site, but this is some great advice. I have just started using WordPress as my preferred CMS for my clients. It’s a perfect and simple way to let customers control their client. These plug-ins you’ve outline here are exactly what I was looking for.


  6. Great list!

    FYI: Filosofo Home Page Control is now built into WP 2.1 and later.

    And I agree that building sites with WP is the way of the future/present. 🙂

  7. Hi Andy

    found this article on google after trying to find the best plugins for WP as a CMS, so nice SEO 😉

    I’m quite new to WP but want to start using it for web clients, would you still say these are the best plugins? Are there any others you would recommend now that we are six months further on?

    cheers, great site btw, keep up the good work

  8. Thanks for gathering all these great plugins in one place. I’d almost got google-itis trying to find something just like this!

  9. Have to agree that these would be the best for a CMS for WP. Have not tried them all yet but they seem to be very handy indeed.

    I think currently WP still has a bit to go until it can fully be regarded as a top notch CMS even though ive designed most of my websites using WP.

    Thanks for a resourceful post 🙂

  10. Great – the Search Everything plugin is going to fix the only problem I am having with the otherwise
    fantastic WordPress CMS temaplate I downloaded at it doesn’t bring search results
    from the static pages. Thanks again.

  11. Hi, Andy
    You are very right about wordpress’s CMS capabilities.
    Are you using WordPress for your website too.
    Which application did you integrate for client login and what are the features, if not.. how to have it in a website. I hope you will like to share this.
    Thank you.

  12. SEO, meta data and stats are also areas that Anyone looking to implement WP as a CMS might want to consider – one of my clients is fiercely protective of her Google ranking, so this something I’m trying to get on top of. Headspace2 ( seems to deliver the goods – and lets you integrate Google analytics, Mint and a heap of other packages.
    Nice article too, Andy – how about an update based on what you’ve learnt since, and the release of WP2.3?

  13. I love using WordPress as a CMS on my websites. The software allows you to create and manage articles with such ease! Although it is pretty tough making a non-static index page for your CMS. What are you supposed to put on it ???

  14. Thank you! These are the BEST plugins I have ever come across and I have done so much research in finding the ultimate wordpress plugins. YOu saved me a lot of time. THANKS!

  15. I work in a public library and we want to redo our dreamweaver site into a CMS style WP site. Do you have any recommendations on whether or not it matters which theme you choose? Are certain themes better suited to CMS? We tried to do Semiologic and couldn’t even get the uploaded version of it from the remote server to the plugin list in the blog login. Now I’m shopping around for a different theme.

  16. I’ve used WordPress on *every* website I’ve designed in the last 2 years – even if I had to drag my client along kicking and screaming.

    One notable project is an Artist’s community site – see it at – that requires members only posting abilities, members only areas, and advanced registration abilities.

    So far, my favorite plugin is a self-modded version of WP Members. Check it out.

    Sharani: My recommendation is to pick a theme you understand and can have control over. If the code is not well commented and the stylesheet is messy, then skip the theme. The most important first step is to find a theme with a similar layout to what you want. Then customize the colors, images, and code to your pleasing. And remember to keep the link to the theme designer if you are required to.

  17. I have recently started using WordPress as the CMS for my sites. Before that, I was busting out custom CMS for each new client… how inefficient when it’s not really necessary (db driven pages may not apply). Anyway, I believe the CMS focus of WP will only increase exponentially in time, and it will one day share similar if not greater praise as a CMS than Joomla and Drupal.

  18. I like to use WordPress as CMS. Also customers who have no experience in creating and managing website can learn the system in just about one hour. Good article.

  19. Implementing a WordPress install for our Cubscout website. Had a hands on session with 7 leaders and laptops last night, and they were surprised at how easy it is to add content to the website now using WordPress….

    But need to get a better weay to manager the users other than WordPress defult…tried to download Red Alt’s Role Manager, but the zip file is corrupted….any one else been able to download the the Role Manager file?

    Great article!
    -Mike Darling

  20. I add the plugins but how I insert the content of the pages to another web page ? please help

  21. Hello Andy

    Finally we found a place whith the information about handle wordpress as a CMS. We belive that wordpress is a great cms. if someone known about changing the background for each page or changing sidebar for each page would be wonderful, specially with plugins.

    bery useful post, thanks.

  22. Excellent post and blog.
    He started the installation and first time I feel excellent, was searched something like this.


  23. I didn’t know there was anything out there like Role Manager. I’ve been hand-rolling my own little plugin every time I had to hand over a site to a client. This is going to be such a time saver! Thanks!!!

  24. very nice Five WordPress “CMS Enabling” Plugins – This isnt a must. But if you want your wordpress blog to act like a CMS, you should get these 5 plugins. Free and makes your wordpress a great CMS
    Thanks, by the way

  25. WordPress as CMS is becoming a fashion i guess .. i saw this site which uses WordPress as CMS. But has anyone ever seen a website with like 300+ pages ?

    I am not sure of stability of wordpress when handling large sites ..

  26. @ Jason
    I read somewhere that new WP 2.6 is capable of handling large number of pages.

    I will try this on my test site, thanks for the info.

  27. I know this is an old post, but it’s very useful to see these lists of plugins. I wanted to add my own 2 cents: We just released a new plugin that allows you to add interactive video capabilities to your blog! Enhance your blog with both basic and advanced video capabilities. Upload/ record/import videos directly to your post, edit and remix video content, enable video responses, manage and track your video content and much more…
    Check it out and download it here:
    Examples and pictures are on the plugin forum:

  28. This is nice Andy–thanks.
    I dev in ExpressionEngine mostly, but am looking into more WP work. One of my beefs (as an example) is wp_list_pages…with the injection of all the classes around stuff. The backend needs to be severely modified to strip out ALL injected classes/additional html.

    Do you know of any plugins or modified WP installs (that are easy to upgrade) that remove back-end injected HTML? I’m looking to get php output on most calls that I can manipulate myself without worrying about what html code is being injected without my control.

    Also, do you know if fold page list plugin strips out all the html, leaving me just data output, or is it still using the html that gets wrapped when you use wp_list_pages?

    Thanks! 🙂

  29. Well, I think Role-Scoper is a better plugin than Role-Manager because it provides more advanced features.

  30. There are of course other CMS’s out there that are easy to use for blogging. I have used Joomla in the past for my blog site as it was what I was familiar with. I have to say though, that since trying out WP, it seems better suited to my needs and is easy to learn right out of the box.

  31. Do you know of any plugins or modified WP installs (that are easy to upgrade) that remove back-end injected HTML? I’m looking to get php output on most calls that I can manipulate myself without worrying about what html code is being injected without my control.

  32. Outstanding Article , I thought it was grand

    I look forward to more similar postings like this one. Does your website have a subscription I can subscribe to for updates?

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