Wow! Blogging platforms are so good, for everything…

[I was going to title this post ‘blogging platforms are for life, not just for blogging’ – but thought better of it 😦 ].

I’ve been playing with blogging platforms quite a lot recently, specifically WordPress. Its a great tool and as well as its most obvious application, it is flexible enough for a variety of uses. Don’t want to go into too much detail for obvious reasons, but these are some of the things I have been involved in (not all originating at my end, or for my work):

  • A simple campaign microsite, using tags and feeds to aggregate views on a range of related subjects
  • An organisational news and information site, designed to be managed by non-web and non-communications people – they can publish to the site via email
  • A staff engagement channel drawing in multimedia content
  • A small, closed consultation group
  • A market research focus group, led by a facilitator
  • A team blog, to share insights, links and clippings

Some of these projects will see the light of day shortly and I’ll let you know when they do.

I can in no way be described as a ‘techie’, and I have no web development skills to speak of. But I am able to build sites in WordPress with reasonable ease. What’s more, if can live with a little inflexibility, the hosted WordPress solution allows you to create a blog/site / tool at zero cost other than your time and skills. I’d definitely recommend you having a play with the functionality if you haven’t yet tried. Of course, if you want the result to be more professional then its certainly worth considering finding someone to help you..

Two other implementations of blogs worth noting as well. I’ve previously referenced the Darzi review blog built by Simon Dickson (using Typepad). Version two is now live, in WordPress. Take a look – it doesn’t look like a blog does it!? Just look at the design and functionality, thats the kind of sophistication you can achieve if you know what you are doing. But at the same time it retains the great features and functionality of a blogging platform: automatic syndication, tagging, archiving, easy integration with rich media sources (Flickr, YouTube etc).

Another one: Defra using a blogging platform (WordPress again) as a campaign diary to allow ministers to update stakeholders on preparations for, and progress on, the UN climate change conference – I’m guessing for all the reasons mentioned above. Deployed as a sub-domain off the corporate website

Although many of these examples are still testing the waters, they show a growing maturity in the use of these tools. They are quick and easy to set up, and sometimes put expensive ‘enterprise’ CMS applications to shame in their ease of use and functionality.  By the way, I’m no apologist for WordPress. I’m sure the others are just as good, its just I don’t know how to use them (yet). I’ll demonstrate just how bad my blog building skills are at the barcamp if nobody better comes forward (come on, I know you’re out there…).

Talking of the barcamp, hope to be able to announce the location in the next few days. Watch this space…

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  1. I’m perfectly happy to out myself as an apologist for WordPress (not that there’s much to apologise for!).

    I spent a big chunk of last year playing with the various options, and WordPress is the one which just works. Zero cost, minimal requirements – in terms of technology and expertise… and most important of all, flexibility. You can make it do pretty much anything you want, once you ‘get’ its way of working.

    (I suppose I should add a ‘disclosure’ note here: Mr Gould and I are working on a couple of things in precisely this space. Delivery, hopefully, within a couple of weeks. I’m sure we’ll cover all the details between us.)

  2. Great post, we’ve been thinking along exactly the same lines for a while and have started doing sites in WordPress, especially for the facilitated discussion side of things (so much better than forums for the shorter, more discrete consultation exercises).

    One we just did for the City of London Corporation is at http://www.thecitytogether.org, which we’re pleased with, and I also just had an article published on the topic in Iain Dale’s Guide to Political Blogging 2007 (find it on Amazon or i could send any one interested a copy by email)

    I think from a suppliers point of view, things like this are going to make the notion of building and licensing software more and more irrelevant over time, which is great, as it means more money can be spent on actually building processes that work.

    We’d be happy to cover blogging in this way at the Barcamp if you want too!

  3. That’s a great looking site Gez, you’d never know that was built on a blogging CMS – and why should you? The more blogging at the barcamp the better.

  4. I’ve succumbed & put my name down to talk about building sites with WordPress.

    Amongst others I’ve been involved in the production side of blogging with Gez & the gang at delib, and also with Steve Bridger over at nfp2.co.uk. So between us we’ll hopefully be able to cover the spectrum from getting your hands dirty with coding & installation through to the business issues.

  5. Glad someone with more experience than me is offering to take that on… 🙂 Seriously, its great that people who have actually done stuff like this can demonstrate and share their skills.

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