It might seem strange to use WordPress to create a traditional type of website, one which has a fixed home page and doesn’t include a blog. However, if you are already familiar with WordPress, or you want to make use of the countless themes and plugins available for the software when creating a traditional non-blog website, we totally understand why you would want to use WordPress for this purpose.
Being able to tap into the shared knowledge of the large community of WordPress users and its burgeoning ecosystem is another benefit of using this software that can’t be overlooked.
So in today’s post we are going to look at some useful plugins and themes you can install on your brochureware or non-blog website, which will make it easier to manage, add some essential features, and generally look and work better.
How to Setup WordPress as a Traditional Non-Blog Website
In a recent post we looked at how to use WordPress to create a static website, as opposed to a blog. So if you are yet to set up your non-blog website, check that guide out.
Static Site Disclaimer
Just to be clear, in these two articles static website refers to a traditional type of website, with a fixed, permanent home page, rather than a front page that displays a list of the latest posts. These websites are sometimes referred to as brochureware, and if they do have a blog, it’s not the focal point of the website.
Building this type of website is different from creating a true static HTML website with WordPress. If you would like to do that, this guide to using WordPress as a static site generator by Tim Nash, will tell you everything you need to know.
The type of website we are discussing here isn’t a static website. The content is still generated dynamically, on the fly from the WordPress database. However, considering the fact that the home page is fixed, rather than constantly changing as new posts are published, static seems like an apt, if potentially confusing term to use.
Others might call this type of website a brochureware site, or a vanity site, but whatever you want to call it, we are talking about a site with a permanent home page, and perhaps no blog posts.
WordPress Plugins for a Brochureware Business Website
So now that we’ve (hopefully) cleared up some of the terminology, it’s time to take a look at the plugins that can help you create a useful and professional brochureware website with WordPress. Whether your site is for a small business, a freelancer, a society, or any other entity that needs a website where the blog isn’t the main focus of the website, these plugins should enhance that site.
Social Media Sharing Buttons and Optimization
Whatever type of website you are building, you are going to want to make it easy for your visitors to share it with their friends and followers. Thankfully there are countless social media sharing plugins available for WordPress.
Of the premium options Monarch from Elegant Themes is a great choice. The buttons look highly professional and they can be displayed in a number of locations on your website, including when visitors hover over an image. There is also a slide-in button that is triggered when visitors reach the end of a page.
If you want to optimize your content for the top social media networks and ensure your pages really stand out in timelines when they are shared, then installing the premium WP Social Sharing Optimization plugin is one option. A free alternative for Twitter optimization is JM Twitter Cards.
Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing your website for search engines like Google ensures your content stands a fighting chance of getting ranked prominently for the keywords and search terms relevant to your website.
The WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is the tried and tested option that powers over one million websites. Amongst the many features of this plugin, after activating it, you are able to create a custom page title and description that will be displayed in the search engines when your content is listed.
Use these titles and descriptions to compel searchers to click through to your website, in order to increase your visitor numbers.
Newsletter Subscription and Email List Sign-up Forms
Turning one-time visitors into email subscribers gives you the ability to communicate with your target audience after they’ve left your website. While there are many services offering email marketing solutions, the hard part is getting those visitors to enter their email addresses.
Once again, there are countless plugins which can help you in this department. OptinMonster is the professional premium option for displaying eye-catching popup email opt-in forms, that have been proven to increase your sign-up rates.
Make it Easy for Your Visitors to Get in Touch
While a true static website would have trouble sending you information from your visitors, WordPress and a suitable plugin makes it very easy to add interactive forms to your website.
If you simply want a basic contact form that can be added to your website in a just few minutes, then the free Contact Form 7 plugin is hard to beat.
However, if you want to create advanced forms, with multiple pages, conditional logic, and a wide range of input fields, Gravity Forms is the premium option of choice.
If the entity you are creating the brochureware website for has an offline location, then displaying an interactive map so visitors can find their way there is a good idea. WP Google Maps is a plugin that comes in a free lite version, as well as a paid professional version.
This plugin makes it easy to create a custom Google Map, complete with markers, and then display that map in your WordPress posts and pages. WP Google Maps aims to help you create your custom map in 30 seconds, so if your website has a contact page, this plugin is a good choice.
Improve the Speed of Your Website
While upgrading to a faster web host will increase your site speed, another option is to install a caching plugin. Amongst the features of these tools is the ability to create true static versions of your website and its content. These static pages then load faster, as they aren’t generated dynamically on the fly.
When it comes to choosing a caching plugin that can make your website load faster, the two most popular free options are WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. Premium users might want to investigate the WP Rocket plugin as it’s been getting rave reviews recently.
Improve WordPress Page Management Capabilities
If you are creating a traditional website, rather than a blog, then you will most likely be using pages a lot, as opposed to posts.
Once the number of pages on your website starts mounting up, it can be difficult to manage them through the standard WordPress interface. To help remedy this issue, there are some free plugins available which can enhance the page manager of WordPress.
Advanced Page Manager is a great option for improving the way you work with pages in WordPress. This plugin allows you to create pages in bulk, instantly see the relationships between pages, and drag and drop pages to change their display order.
If you’d like a better way to organize your pages, as well as making it easier for your visitors to find other similar content on your website, then enabling categories and tags for pages is a great place to start. The Post Tags and Categories for Pages plugin does just this, and allows your pages to share the same tags and categories as your posts.
Another simple and effective way to help your readers find more of the pages you’ve published on your site, is to install the premium Advanced Pages Widget plugin. This plugin replaces the default Pages widget that is included with WordPress. After installation you now have much more control over how your pages are displayed in the sidebar and other widgetized areas of your website. This includes displaying page thumbnail images, excerpts, only content by specific authors, and much more.
WordPress Themes for Your Non-Blog Brochureware Website
While any WordPress theme can technically be used for your brochureware website, it’s probably best to choose one that has more of a focus on displaying content published as pages, rather than blog posts.
WordPress themes aimed at small businesses are good choices in this regard. This is because they often feature a range of different page templates, including templates for pages that you would typically find on a brochureware, or static information site. They also tend to have home page layouts that are ideal for displaying permanent or static content, rather than your latest blog posts.
This one-page theme from the Design Wall development team is fully mobile-responsive and includes three landing page templates. There are also five child themes to choose from, each capable of applying a different look and feel to your website.
DW Page includes three custom posts types for storing and publishing your projects, testimonials, and client profiles – essential features for promoting your business or services online.
Avada is a truly multipurpose theme. This means that whatever type of website you want to build, Avada has it covered.
Not only is Avada packed with features, settings, and options, it’s also the number one best-selling WordPress theme of all time. If you want a theme that has been put through its paces by thousands of users, their websites, and visitors, then this one is a good choice. The features and possibilities of this theme are too many to mention, so just check out the demo to see what it can do.
Bouncy is a multipurpose theme, however, it is prefect for creating a business website that consists of lots of pages, rather than just a blog. This responsive theme includes four home page templates, five custom post types, lots of layout options, and plenty of customization settings – not to mention a great looking design.
Creating a True Static Website with WordPress
If you do want to use WordPress to create a truly static website, and not simply a brochureware website with a fixed homepage and little to no interactive content, then this detailed guide on Smashing Magazine by Barry Clark will help you do so.
WordPress does work very well in a blogless configuration. You still get access to the vast array of plugins for upgrading your website, and themes for transforming its appearance.
Furthermore, in the future, if you do want to start publishing regular blog content, add a shopping cart, or create a members only area, the technical aspects of adding those features to your website isn’t a problem.
Have you used WordPress to create and manage a website without a blog? What tips and tools do you recommend? Looking back, would you have preferred to take a different approach to creating your brochureware website? Please share your comments below.