Aug 09 2011

Extending the Functionality of WordPress Pt.2

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Previously, on Noupe. We brought you a handful of ways to expand on the functionality of any WordPress based site using some inspired plugins and/or themes to elevate this CMS beyond its humble beginnings as a blogging platform. With ways to turn WP into a Discussion Forum, an Online Shop, and a Helpdesk. Today, that mission continues.

Excerpt from Part One

Theme designers and plugin developers have been pushing the boundaries of what WordPress can do for some time. This has accelerated since the introduction of Custom Post Types into the WordPress core as it allows developers to use WordPress in a lot of weird and wonderful ways.

Today we will begin showing you examples of themes and plugins that let you use WordPress in ways you may have never thought possible.

As we mentioned last week, in this installment we will show you how to extend the possibilities of your WP site to make it a Wiki, an Arcade, a Job Board, a Membership based site, a Review site, or just a Q&A site. Now let’s get at it.

Wiki

Due to the sheer amount of content they contain, Wikis are a good way of making money online (take Star Trek fan wiki Memory Alpha for example). They are also a useful addition to blogs and websites as it allows readers to contribute to the site. As you would expect from a CMS, WordPress handles Wikis easily.

Theme

WikiWP – FREE

In A Nutshell: A free WordPress theme that’s based on the Wikipedia design.

WikiWP

Pros

  • SEO friendly.
  • Clean design (though perhaps a little dated).

Cons

  • Hasn’t been updated for years so new WordPress features aren’t built into this theme.

WordPress Wiki Theme – $30

In A Nutshell: A premium WordPress design that uses WordPress to create a wiki.

WordPress Wiki Theme

Pros

  • 6 colour schemes to choose from.
  • Features sliding sidebar menus and a dedicated FAQ page.

Cons

  • Hasn’t been updated with WordPress 3.0 features such as featured images.

Plugins

Wiki – $39

In A Nutshell: A premium WordPress plugin that lets you convert any post or page into a Wiki.

Wiki

Pros

  • Entries can be edited directly on the page without having to access your admin area.
  • Works with WordPress, WordPress MU and BuddyPress.
  • Perfect for adding a Wiki to an existing website.

You May Also Want To Consider…

  • eSimple Wiki – A basic free Wiki plugin for WordPress.
  • Wiki Embed – Lets you embed wikis onto any WordPress page or post.
  • WikiPress – An open source plugin that lets you collaborate with other users in your admin section via a Wiki.

Arcade

There are quite a few premium products that allow you to build an arcade website using WordPress. Most plugins come packaged with a theme and charge a little extra for the games to be included in the zip file.

MyArcadePlugin Lite – FREE | My Arcade Plugin – €29.95

In A Nutshell: A feature rich arcade WordPress plugin that lets you install a whopping 29,000 games.

MyArcadePlugin

Pros

  • Games can be downloaded and posted automatically.
  • Great looking design and can be customised with your own brand in minutes.
  • Leaderboard support to encourage visitors to come back.

Cons

  • Free version of the plugin is very limited.

WP Arcade – $33

In A Nutshell: A premium arcade theme store that comes packaged with a plugin that automatically grabs games from MochinMedia.

WPArcade

Pros

  • All themes come with 5 colour schemes.
  • Advertising and Google Analytics integration.
  • Huge amount of customisation through the themes unique options page.
  • Good price for an arcade solution.

Cons

  • There are currently 10 themes available however they are all very similar.

WP Arcade Engine – $29

In A Nutshell: A premium arcade plugin for WordPress.

WPArcadeEngine

Pros

  • The plugin can be set to publish new games every day automatically.
  • Support for any type of game type.
  • Includes a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee.

Cons

  • The plugin retails for $29 however you don’t get any games for this price. You will need to pay an additional $29 to get a game pack.

You May Also Want To Consider…

  • WP Mini Games – Allows you to easily embed flash games onto posts, pages and sidebars.
  • ArcadePress – An fulley fledged open source arcade solution.
  • WP Games Embed – Lets you embed flash games into your posts and pages using shortcodes.

Job Board

There are a lot of job related plugins available for WordPress though 3 stand out from the rest: the Job Board and Jobroller designs and the very useful Job Manager. I recommend Job Manager for those of you who want to add a job section into an existing WordPress website.

Themes

Job Board – $65

In A Nutshell: A premium theme that uses WordPress to power a job board.

Job Board

Pros

  • Complete control using a dedicated theme options page.
  • Coupons feature to allow certain customers discounts.
  • Automated payment collection via PayPal.
  • Very easy to brand.

Jobroller – $99

In A Nutshell: Turn your WordPress website into a fully functional job board.

Jobroller

Pros

  • Easy to use theme options area.
  • Options for job seekers and employers. Job seekers can also upload their resume/CV for employers to see.
  • Five different colour schemes.
  • Social media integration.

Plugins

Job Manager – FREE

In A Nutshell: An open source job plugin that doesn’t scrimp on features

Job Manager

Pros

  • Can create multiple job boards.
  • Applicants can apply directly through the website.
  • Good template system that allows you to customise the job area into your existing WordPress design.

Cons

  • If you are looking for a dedicated job website, it may be better to use an all in one job solution such as the premium themes mentioned as you would need to use this plugin with an existing design.

WPCareers – FREE

In A Nutshell: A free plugin that lets you create a searchable resume (CV) database.

WPCareers

Pros

  • Users can modify descriptions at a later date and upload their own photos/images.
  • Can manage job seekers and employers.

Cons

  • Limited features when compared to other options.

You May Also Want To Consider…

Membership

WordPress is the perfect platform for a membership website. The premium member plugins are better supported however free alternatives have a huge range of features too.

Members Only – FREE

In A Nutshell: Make your content viewable only by signed in members.

Members Only

Pros

  • Can specify what page the member is redirected to when they log in.
  • Can protect RSS feeds for members too.

User Role Subscriptions – FREE

In A Nutshell: A user role subscription plugin that allows you to restrict content to paid subscribers.

User Role Subscriptions

Pros

  • Can modify the email template for new subscribers.
  • Automatically deletes expired subscribers.
  • Can accept payments via PayPal.

Cons

  • Quite limited. There are better alternatives available.

WP-Members – FREE

In A Nutshell: A membership system that restricts content to signed in users.

WP Members

Pros

  • Can block pages, posts, both or neither by default.
  • Registration process can be changed to suit your needs.
  • Private member area can be determined.
  • Well documented.

Cons

  • No support for paid membership.

Members – FREE

In A Nutshell: A user role and content management plugin.

Members

Pros

  • Capabilities of users can be modified.
  • You can control what user groups can see specific content.
  • RSS feeds can be restricted.

s2Member – FREE | s2Member Pro – $69

In A Nutshell: An feature rich membership plugin.

s2Member

Pros

  • Includes 4 membership levels: Free, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
  • Works with multiple payment gateways.
  • Can setup one off or recurring payments.
  • Can restrict content and downloads to specified member levels.

Membership – FREE | Membership Premium – $39

In A Nutshell: Transforms WordPress into a fully functional membership site.

Membership

Pros

  • Can offer free memberships that turn into paid memberships after a set number of days.
  • Unlimited membership and subscription levels.
  • Can restrict access to members only in lots of different areas including posts, pages, comments, categories, galleries and more.
  • Well documented, well supported and updated regularly.

WP-Membership – $25

In A Nutshell: Sell your content with this premium membership plugin.

WP Membership

Pros

  • Can setup unlimited membership levels.
  • Payments can be made via PayPal and the dashboard shows sales for that month.

Cons

  • Limited number of member options compared to other paid membership plugins.

CMS Members – $59.50

In A Nutshell: A solid membership plugin that boasts some great features.

CMS Members

Pros

  • Create unlimited memberships.
  • Built in mass mailer.
  • Accepts PayPal and 2Checkout as payment from new members.
  • Content within a post or page can be restricted to different member groups.

MagicMembers – $97

In A Nutshell: A premium membership plugin that has a huge amount of features.

Magic Members

Pros

  • Works with a huge number of payment gateways.
  • Integrates with popular auto responders.
  • Premium content can be restricted on a ‘Pay Per Post’ basis.
  • Categories can be protected and RSS feeds can be restricted to paying members too.

Wishlist Member – $97

In A Nutshell: One of the most popular premium membership plugins available today.

Wishlist Member

Pros

  • Sequential content delivery for those who want to drip-feed content to members.
  • Flexible membership options including free, trial or paid. Members can also migrate to other membership levels after a set period of time.
  • Works with many shopping cart systems.
  • Integrates with many popular WordPress plugins.

You May Also Want To Consider…

Review Website

The surge to make money through review websites has died down a little however there are still some good premium plugins out there for those of you who are looking to launch a review website.

My Review Plugin – $90

In A Nutshell: A flexible rating plugin that can add ratings to any WordPress post, page or product.

MyReviewPlugin

Pros

  • Can use stars, letters or percentages to grade items.
  • It’s easy to build horizontal and vertical comparison tables.
  • Add ratings to any area of your site automatically with a one-click install.
  • 45-day money back guarantee.

WF Review – $89

In A Nutshell: A review plugin that was created specifically for affiliate marketers.

WF Review

Pros

  • Import CSV feeds from affiliate networks such as Commission Junction and ShareASale to create thousands of products in seconds.
  • Support for comparison tables.
  • Amazon ratings stars are fully customisable via CSS.

WP Review Engine – $99.95

In A Nutshell: A premium rating plugin that can be customised easily.

WP Review Engine

Pros

  • Rating comments and rating tables can be styled easily via the admin area.
  • 13 star images, 23 buttons, and 6 comparison table image sets are included with the plugin.
  • Add comparison tables to any post or page on your site.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.

Q & A

The following themes and plugins allow you to create a question and answer website. This type of website has become very common due to the popularity of sites such as Yahoo Answers, Stack Overflow and Quora.

Themes

WP Answers – $89

In A Nutshell: Turn WordPress into a cash generating question and answer website.

WP Answers

Pros

  • Pull content directly into your website from Yahoo Answers.
  • Full Facebook and Twitter integration.
  • Packaged theme comes in 6 custom colours.
  • Intuitive points system that gives members points for answering questions.

Plugins

Q&A Lite – FREE | Q & A – $39

In A Nutshell: Add a questions and answers section to your existing WordPress website.

Q and A

Pros

  • WYSIWYG editors for both questions and answers.
  • Integrated reputation points system.
  • User profile pages for those who use the question and answer service.

You May Also Want To Consider…

Overview

Throughout the course of these two articles we have shown you how flexible the WordPress is and how it can be used for a variety of purposes. The products that have been listed in this article can be split into two categories: plugins that integrate with your existing WordPress powered website to add extra functionality to an area of your site and themes or plugins that use WordPress to completely change how WordPress is used (e.g. a discussion forum).

When you are using a product that uses WordPress to power the main areas of your website, you need to consider the stand alone scripts that are available. For example, The G Forums uses the WordPress platform to create a discussion forum. It achieves this through custom theme templates therefore it couldn’t be integrated into an existing WordPress website. The script retails for $29 and has very basic features therefore, in my opinion, you would be better off using a PHP bulletin board such as phpBB or Simple Machines instead. If however you wanted to integrate a forum into your existing website, a plugin such as bbPress may be better than phpBB or Simple Machines.

Another factor to consider is plugins. The official WordPress plugin directory has over 15,000 plugins. The number of add ons available for stand alone scripts is sometimes poor therefore if you need additional functionality on your website, a WordPress product is a good choice (e.g. one click installs of forums, sitemaps, member areas etc).

Also, if you know of any great free or premium WordPress products that extend the functionality of the platform, please share it with other readers in the comment area.

(rb)

About the Author

Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog. He can also be found on Twitter: @KevinMuldoon.

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Comments and Discussions
  • Salman Saeed, 09 August 2011

    WordPress is for the win ofcourse. Nice write up Kevin.

  • Dot Monster - Rab, 09 August 2011

    Nice list Kevin, take a look at FAQ You, might even want to add it into your Q&A section. From all the Q&A Plugins I’ve used this is the best.

    Website: http://plugins.trendwerk.nl/documentation/faq-you/
    WordPress Directory: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/faq-you/

    Cheers!

  • Slapaddicts, 10 August 2011

    Fantastic list, as was your first one. Just when I thought I’d tested all the ecommerce, forum and members plug-ins, you go and find more!

  • Carlos Martinez, 10 August 2011

    Several times the problem it’s that is more complex develop under WordPress that develop under one generic framework

  • Kashif Khawaja, 10 August 2011

    Thanks Kevin, been waiting for part 2 of this series. Keep up the good work!

  • Kevin Muldoon, 13 August 2011

    Thanks for all the kind words guys. Glad you enjoyed the article. I have some more WordPress related articles being published on Noupe. I’m sure you will find them useful :)

  • Peter, 15 January 2012

    Kudos from me too Kevin, especially the section with job plugins I found interesting – any sugestions for a job auctioning system? I am looking for that.

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