WordPress is no longer just a blogging tool. These brilliant examples of WordPress websites will help get that inspiration flowing...
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Once regarded as just a blogging tool, WordPress has quickly become a fully fledged content management system (CMS) for professional web designers and agencies, used on millions of sites across the world.
Yet many still think of it as a tool for amateurs and hobbyists. To set the record straight, we've picked some of the best WordPress websites around to show you just what this incredible content management system is capable of...
01. Mario Batali
The site for chef Mario Batali showcases his restaurants,
recipes and products. It also expands on the Batali brand, allowing visitors to become immersed by highlighting easy-to-browse, self- produced videos within the clean design and organised navigation.
"People love looking at food, so we wanted to make sure that it really was the star of the show," says Adam Scher, co-founder of Operation:CMYK. The 'What Should I Cook' recipe section has a nice filtering system with an appropriate Masonry grid layout to display suggested meals, which look delicious.
The expansive site is built on top of WordPress. Chris Langer, the other Operation:CMYK co-founder, was pleased with how it turned out. "Our goal here was to turn WordPress on its head. The backend is easy to use, but we ditched the usual blog format on most pages."
The homepage also has Twitter functionality built in, as Batali loves to respond to recipe ideas, places to eat and technique questions on Twitter. Scher adds, "For us, it was about empowering [the Batali team] to use their online space more efficiently and effectively while giving them creative freedom to create Mario's world."
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02. The Band Agency
Hailing from Victoria, BC, The Band Agency has a clear, profound message when it comes to building websites. "We love WordPress," enthuses designer Jayson Brown. It's perhaps no surprise to find that The Band Agency's own site is built on WordPress, then.
"It's popular, which is an easy sell to clients," says Brown. "The open-source community and documentation for developing WordPress functionality and templates is incredibly robust. In the end WordPress is an extremely rewarding platform to develop on."
As we all know, one of WordPress's great selling points is plug-ins. "Advanced Custom Fields allows us to create custom control panels that can be assigned to any post type and as a standalone options panel," Brown divulges. "In addition, we implement the Yoast SEO plug-in, which handles our meta tags, site map and social media meta integration."
Liam Veitch likes to believe that "everyone is a nerd at something", and this nerdy-ness can be translated into a business. Over at Ownerd, where he blogs, you can find helpful information on just how to own and grow that business. At the heart of the site is WordPress.
"As far as we're concerned, WordPress is as established as you can get. Yes, there is still some stigma; yes, it gets outfoxed by some larger enterprise CMSes ... but when it comes to flexibility, ease of build and ease of use from an admin perspective, WP always wins out," Veitch says.
04. I Shot Him
Intriguingly named San Francisco-based agency I Shot Him doesn't take itself too seriously. "We are a studio that learns as we go. When we first started learning how to develop sites, our resources all pointed to WordPress as the quickest and most useful route," explains co-founder Michael Jeter.
"Over time, we've learned that our clients are pretty good at understanding the backend, so we've kept using it to ensure the ease of transition for clients," Jeter continues. "We've looked into a few other options but none of them have convinced us to convert."
Although the site is image-heavy, different images are loaded depending on the screen dimensions. The responsive navigation is also clean, easy-to-use and responds quickly to touch.
The site is built on WordPress showing once again how flexible and powerful this CMS can be. There are also a number of the new HTML5 elements used throughout the site such as <header> and <footer> . The popular Masonry library is used for positioning social elements depending on page width. The W3C Geolocation API is also taken advantage of to help users locate the nearest stockist of the hair products.
06. Toronto Standard
Digital creative agency Playground was behind the design of this redesign for the Toronto Standard. Creative director at Playground Ryan Bannon explains, "The client was an investor who had purchased the rights to an old Toronto news brand and wanted to reinvent it as a purely digital, fresh voice in the Toronto editorial scene. That was about it; purely digital, fresh voiced editorial.
"The site uses mostly HTML5 and CSS3. One of the most important tools we used are CSS3 media queries, which allowed us to reorganise our dynamic grid to make an experience that always fit the browser size. On the backend, the entire site runs on WordPress so there's not a complex proprietary system for contributors to learn."
07. Harvey Nichols
This site for international luxury fashion destination Harvey Nichols was created by digital agency Pod1. Fadi Shuman, co-founder of Pod1 explains, "The brief was an exciting ecommerce proposition to deliver the luxury shopping proposition, to be flexible in its design for campaign imagery and themes.
"We were tasked with revamping the retailer's online presence and upgrading its website using the Magento Enterprise open source platform and WordPress. Pod1 worked closely with Harvey Nichols, with a team of 10 people on each side in constant communication to make the project a success."
08. Captain Creative
A true superhero of the web world has finally revealed himself. And he has a website! Brad James is a self-described "mild mannered designer and art director" based over in New South Wales, Australia. Although he works for agency, iQmultimedia, James has set up as his own online identity named Captain Creative.
To manage James's online identity and leave enough time to save the world (wide web) he chose WordPress, "mainly because I knew I wanted a portfolio and blog combined into the one site," says James. He adds, "I don't write code so it also helps that it's widely used in case I run into any technical problems. I'd also used it previously as a CMS for other website clients, so I was familiar with the interface."
However, James warns, "It does have its downsides. I had a security issue recently where someone was able to modify the appearance of the site and even change my WP login credentials. Fortunately, I was able to sort it out without too much trouble. Lesson learnt: make sure you keep your version of WP updated!"
Little has provided strategic design thinking and execution to meet external and internal business challenges for Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and others for over 30 years. "With a significant portion of web traffic moving towards tablet and mobile, it was imperative that we addressed the browsing experience needs of our users," designer Michael Arney tells us. "I was confident that as long as we were using a responsive framework like Bootstrap and an easy-to-use CMS like WordPress we’d be setting ourselves up for long-term success."
The homepage features the amount of imagery necessary to showcase Little’s portfolio of high-profile clients, but rather than serve the same assets to a mobile device that a desktop browser would receive, the images are optimised for Retina screens – resulting in a manageable page weight. It’s a difficult balancing act between page weight and high-quality imagery, but Little has hit the mark, resulting in a beautiful design.
10. Poster Roast
Poster Roast is a platform for UK artists to promote their screen-printed gig posters. The site first came about when Telegramme was commissioned by Alex Curtis and Chris White. Director of Telegramme Studio Robert Evans explains, "I met them last year at various gigs and exhibitions they were putting on. We got chatting about the emerging gig poster scene in the UK, and the idea arose of giving all the artists an easy way to get people to see and buy their work."
"The project was an extracurricular activity outside of our working hours. This meant we had to be thrifty and work out how to cut out time spent learning new code so we could concentrate on the design. It needed to be reliable, with good support from its original designers via email and forums. It needed to take the worry of 'If I do this, will it break?' We've worked with the guys at Organic Themes before and they're really helpful.
"We used the excellent WP E-Commerce with gold cart plug-in. Tweaked for the specific usage of the site, we used the categories in a slightly different way to its intention. The plug-in is really flexible to cater for various uses and solid enough to play around with, without breaking it. The most useful element of this plug-in was its ease of integration within any theme structure. Widgets and short codes let you add categories and products wherever you need them, enabling you to drive traffic to where you want."
Viewport Industries makes digital and analogue products for web professionals. Founded by Elliot Jay Stocks and Keir Whitaker in 2011, the company chose WordPress as its CMS. "I've used WordPress for years and have developed a way of working that means it's easy to get up and running with a new theme," explains Whitaker. "Adding a page, new post or custom post type is straightforward and allows flexibility."
Asked what he's most proud of about the site, Whitaker replies: "Responsive images! We wanted to try out Josh Emerson's Responsive-Enhance script and had fun with the homepage. On a mobile device you will get black and white versions of the product logos; on the desktop view they're higher resolution and full colour."
Thanks to WordPress's flexibility, Whitaker took this further. "I wrote a function that generates a black and white version for every image uploaded, providing it is bigger than 400px wide. It's relatively easy to conditionally check for the black and white version and show it in the blog post's featured image. It's nice having this automated and it seems to be working well."
Tornobambino is a small Italian agency comprising designer Fedrica Cau and developer Pasquale de Luna. For their cool and colourful site, WordPress was the obvious choice, Cau reveals. "We think WordPress is the best option for small websites that need to be modified and tweaked often," she explains.
"We've mastered WordPress in both full theme design and plug-in development, which is why we are able to create an almost custom CMS over the engine, keeping development costs low when compared to a full custom CMS coded from scratch." The agency usually develops its our custom WordPress plug-ins in-house based on a client's specifications. "And if needed, to keep costs lower, we customise open source plug-ins," adds Cau.
The E&E agency mostly works in the music industry, but has been known to flex its considerable talents in other areas of the digital realm. When it came to crafting its award-winning site, WordPress ticked all the boxes.
"We find WordPress to be incredibly flexible," co-founder Austin Mayer explains, "whether we're developing a portfolio site like Eyes and Ears or full-blown creative artist websites such as A Fine Frenzy or The Wall Flowers.
Also, WordPress has an amazing developer community. Chances are, if you run into a problem or need to refine a hangup in your code, someone has done it before and figured it out."
Brisbane-based wedding photographers, Jess Marks and Steve Bliesne's online home is a fun, whimsical website bristling with personality. When it came to revamping the site, Bliesner says that they, "actually moved from ExpressionEngine to WordPress. We searched for a long time to find the right design house to do this project. We settled on Simple as Milk, and WordPress is what they worked with, so we transitioned.
"Since we outsource most web and marketing related things these days, more people and companies are proficient in WordPress over ExpressionEngine, so it became little clear that moving to WP was a smart idea."
"Coming from ExpressionEngine, some things are much the same - the way you create posts, enter data and so on," recalls Bliesner of the transition between CMSes. "But WordPress is miles ahead when it comes to the availability of plug-ins – and overall ease of use."
15. Work by Simon
Work by Simon is the design studio site of Simon Carr and Elijah Wasserman. The website serves as their online portfolio and blog.
The studio focuses on design and development for HTML5, CSS3, mobile websites and WordPress - which has been their preferred CMS over the last four years.
"We love WordPress because it has the ability to easily translate designs to custom templates," explains Simon. "Another reason it was our top choice is flexibility for blogs and portfolio content.
"The portfolio section is easily controlled by using custom WordPress post types. Each thumbnail is uploaded with the featured image field, and tags are also applied to indicate the services provided."
The guys have taken full advantage of modern CSS3 techniques. "Creation of CSS3 animations for the Labs, Chemical Reactions and Observatory pushed my limits of animation using CSS only," Simon jokes. But as you can see their efforts have been worth it.
Branded07 serves as a fantastic example of how elegant a blog can be. This beautiful site, designed by Rob Palmer, is clean and devoid of clutter. What fascinates me most about the design, though, is all the attention to detail.
Take, for example, the simple blog search form. Not only does it occupy an odd location, but it's designed in a far more interesting way than a simple box. The precision and elegance extends to many elements, such as the buttons, illustrations and even the pagination. It's just a WordPress skin that's wonderfully executed.
Throughout the site, you'll find layouts tailored to the content. With a CMS, it can be tempting to have a single layout that all content flows into, but here each page feels as though it's had special consideration to ensure its proper delivery.
Paul Mosig from Racket selected WordPress to power the website for Circa, a restaurant situated in Melbourne, Australia. Paul has captured the spirit and distinct feel of the restaurant's decor to create an equally distinct online presence.
More and more businesses are beginning to promote themselves on the web, and restaurants are no exception. Circa shares menus, recipes, reviews and special offers online. The customer's dining experience is of the utmost importance to Circa.
The restaurant wanted this philosophy to come across on its website. "Because we were able to clearly define the required content types and build custom templates within WordPress, it allowed us to be truly uncompromising with the graphic design," says Mosig. "The beauty of WordPress is that it allows you to create complex designs, which are ultimately maintained by a client with very few technical skills."
Web Courses Bangkok is an English training centre providing beginner-to-advanced web and graphic design courses in Bangkok. Carl Heaton, founder of the company and designer of its newly relaunched site, decided to use WordPress as its CMS.
"We release lots of content, partly for marketing ourselves, but mainly for our trainees to use," Carl explains. "The blogging roots of WordPress made it very easy to get the content out quickly and easily." Carl was most pleased with the flexibility of WordPress when it came to building the templates for his design.
"I found that other CMSs end up forcing you in one direction and with this redesign we wanted the CMS to work for us." Since the launch of WordPress 3 the platform is really starting to hold its own as a fully fledged CMS and the WCB site is a great example of what it's capable of. It's all a far cry from the 'cookie-cutter' implementations of the past.
19. Iron to Iron
Iron to Iron is a two-person company founded by designer Kevin Richardson and developer Jonathan Christopher. Of their own site Kevin says: "We needed to effectively display our brand as well as our philosophy."
They use WordPress for all of their client work, he adds. "It makes building any website easier, ours included. Automating things, from the portfolio content population to collecting contact form submissions, is one of the many benefits."
They're also using the Pods CMS plug-in to give them additional functionality and control of their content. Christopher is also a member of the development team for the plug-in: "We devote a consistent amount of time to that project in order to better utilise it," he says.
Eddie Diaz is a South Florida-based web and graphic designer. When asked about his CMS choice, he replied "Using WordPress as the CMS allowed me to focus more on the design and layout, since the CMS made the populating of content a snap.
"It has also given me better SEO and search engine results. I've noticed my site being ranked higher due to the CMS and the clean code and layout. I believe WordPress is a winner in many ways, and I've used it for other personal and client projects with great results".
Yoke is a studio based in Bristol. The design and build of the site was a team effort by co-founders Jay Bigford and Alister Wynn. "The key to the success of our website as a marketing tool for our business is to have valuable expertise-based content on there," explains Bigford. "We're constantly adding blog posts researching into topics that relate to our target clients."
The guys selected WordPress as their CMS. "We can add posts seamlessly and easily, then set up good interrelated articles between these posts, offering the user a less linear journey through our content," says Bigford, who goes on to discuss workflow.
"Using WordPress enables us to speed up the build by narrowing the number of templates we use. We know we're designing for a CMS, so we're strict with our output and always stick to a maximum of three templates. This allows us to make sure we get fewer, tighter and more polished templates, rather than many, loose pages."
Grind is the gateway to a new workspace platform that lets "talent collaborate in a new way: outside the system". The site provides information about their platform, including what it is like to work at Grind and how to join.
Magic+Might designed and developed the site in collaboration with Co:Collective and they selected WordPress as the CMS. "We leverage WordPress to manage content and templating for the site. WordPress is also used to manage the content for our members-area site, and our blog, the Grindist," explains Josh Campbell. "We picked WordPress for a number of reasons. First we wanted a stable, feature rich platform but without a large investment, that would be able to grow with our needs.
"We also wanted a clean management interface for our writers and editors so they can focus on creating great content." There is a fantastic community surrounding WordPress and the guys at Grind feel that this reflects on the kind of collaborative community that they are all about.
23. Guy Gungell
Our next site is a showcase for Guy Gyngell, a music producer/songwriter. It was designed and built by Adam Allaway at Flint & Tinder. Adam also selected WordPress as the CMS to power Guy's site.
"After a fair amount of research and experimentation with Joomla, Drupal and WordPress, I settled on the latter for my own company blog, The Tinderbox. The progression to using WordPress as a CMS after that was a natural move," Adam explains. "In my opinion where WordPress really excels is the fact that my clients find it so easy to use.
"This means that with very little effort on my behalf, they can be up and blogging and tinkering with their SEO meta data the very same day the site launches. Custom post types are one of my favourite features as they make creating a CMS for a client so much easier."
Myjive are a digital experience agency. The launch of their new site was a team effort between Krista Engler (interactive designer), Ron Edelen (creative director), Albert Banks (technical director) and Linsay Guinaugh (copywriter).
They selected WordPress as their CMS and I caught up with Ron to discuss their decision. "WordPress provides a highly extensive set of features that can be customised to meet our needs," he explains.
"Using a CMS allows for quick population and editing of menus, copy and images," he continues.
"The revisions functionality also allow us to make sure our content is accurate. We're most proud of the Work section. The CMS allows us to associate Work with the Client, the Services and Tactics performed on the project, the Industry, the project's Flickr photoset and any related Vimeo videos."
Rodesk is the website of a newly created interaction agency who provide brand identity, concept design, web design and marketing campaign services for their clients.
It was co-founded by Laurens Boex and Jasper van Orden. They selected WordPress as the CMS to power their infographic- focused design.
"WordPress is the best CMS for sites such as Rodesk, we've developed with it for quite some time," explains Boex. "With a ton of plug-ins and extensions and a world wide community of supportive developers it's easy to work with and integrate quickly."