Even though WordPress is pretty versatile, easily customizable, and fairly extensible, some of the projects I’ve been involved in lately require more than WordPress, and I’ve been looking at:
- Mailing lists
- Other CMS systems such as Mambo and Joomla
and generally trying to extend my capabilities without too steep a learning curve to make it worthwhile.
Every time I adventure out I come back chastened at how little I really know about how to use the tools available, and what this marvelous collective brain that we call the Internet has wrought. Mostly, I decide it’s just too complex, and easier to stick with what I know, but over the winter holidays this year I’ve decided to give it a push, and figure out at least the first two items, wikis and mailing lists. This post is designed to record my early learnings in these two fields.
One of the best uses for the web is workgroup collaboration, and there is no reason this should be restricted to to the big corporations. Small companies, noprofits, and even ad hoc workgroups can use the Internet to manage their activities, build their work products, and keep each other up to date on who’s doing what.
There are all kinds of open-source tools to do this, ranging from complex project management systems to simple (but nonetheless very powerful) wikis. One of the best, and yet in many ways the simplest, is WordPress. Originally designed purely as a blogging system, WordPress has become a full-blown CMS or content management system, and it has an architecture that allows for virtually unlimited extension. Importantly, if you don’t want to allow the world to see what you or your colleagues are doing – at least until it’s ready for prime time – there are several ways you can limit access to the site. (The one I prefer for non-sensitive sites is to use the option in the Settings tab to exclude search engine crawlers, but otherwise allow non-password access. But you can also limit access to just those with passwords.)
Here’s an example of a non-password-protected planning site, for our 2009 green ventures conference, Jumpstarting the New Green Economy: http://sustainablebusinessincubator.com/conference/. You won’t find this even if you Google “sustainable business incubator conference,” so you need someone to give you the link in order to find it (and it may well now begin to show up because it’s referenced here, and this is not an excluded site).
Even as an individual you can benefit from this kind of site, if only to manage your personal projects. For a limited time, we will provide our clients with these sorts of sites at no additional cost, in subdirectories off their main site.