Weird and Wonderful Uses of WordPress
Blogging? Of course. CMS? Why not. But a… word-processor? A task manager? All it takes is a little creativity to push back the boundaries of the impossible.
There was a time when blogging software was destined to do just that – let you blog. You put your content easily and quickly on your blog, and other people reacted to it with their comments. From that simple “action-reaction” principle and because WordPress is so accessible in its installation and operation, WordPress users have found a whole host of creative uses for it.
Sometimes it’s a matter of how far you can extend one of its original dimensions. In other cases, WordPress users have pushed the action-reaction model over into neighbouring domains, traditionally distinct from blogging. And in yet others, lateral thinking has WordPress working in ways that are unexpected, to say the least.
#1: To Boldly Blog Where No-One Blogged Before
Going beyond the “I post, you comment” model, “I Can Has Cheezburger? ” is a WordPress site that has content submitted by the site’s readers. The site is built on the concept of “lolcats” (pictures of cats or other animals with humorous captions in “lolspeak”) and the “LOL Builder”, an application that lets visitors create their own “lolcats”. Site inventor Eric Nakagawa’s description of what goes on is “It’s like you’re creating a story supplied by people in the community, and then the people in the community supply the next part of the story.”
#2: Interact with Me – Right Now!
From blogs to online forums to chat rooms, you can accelerate the pace of interaction on your WordPress site. WordPress (in fact, Automattic) has a free theme called P2 for posting updates with tags from the front page of the blog. There are also real-time notifications when a new comment or post is updated. Group blogging, liveblogging, lifestreaming and workstreaming are all variations of this “blog faster” activity. Workstreaming (publishing work-related info to remote colleagues) also has a spin-off application known as “remote face time”: a facade you create to convince colleagues and your boss that you’re hard at work, when you’re not. But don’t let that unduly influence you…
P2 itself was inspired by the idea of virtual shared office space to help maintain the closeness and dynamism that remotely distributed workers need, and by the social network Twitter for the same reason. Social networking is fashionable and fun. No wonder people like doing it, and no wonder WordPress aficionados want their own versions. Want your own “Facebook-like” site? WordPress has a solution for you in the form of BuddyPress. Another possibility is P2P Social Networker.
#3: Anything You Can Do, I Can Clone Too
Not content with moving into the social networking space, other WordPress fans also use their favourite platform to reproduce different news, reviews and link aggregator sites. FFFFOUND! is one example. This is a user-created content for the sharing and bookmarking of images found on the Internet. Inspired by FFFFOUND!, Tim of Assault.it used various plug-ins to make a theme for “VNovember” to display related images and recommendations based on the tags and the content in the post.
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Other examples of WordPress being used to reproduce site functionality include developments inspired by “Techmeme” (technology news site generating related headlines and conversations), and “PopURLs” (the self-styled “mother of news aggregators”, bringing the latest headlines from the most popular URLs onto a single page).
#4: From Shopping Gene to Giving Gene
You can already take advantage of that “extra shopping gene” that your site visitors possess, by using WordPress plugins for e-commerce and auction site functionality. Hey, if you’re going to produce blogs that that people want to read, maybe they’d like to buy something too! Getshopped.org offers a WordPress plugin for this. You can also make an auction site out of your WordPress site with the WP Auctions plugin.
But why stop there? Shopping, buying, selling, they’re all fun, yet people also have a need to give. You can now satisfy that need with WordPress and a plugin like Donate Plus! This plugin allows donors to be recognised on your site after they’ve given, thanks to a “Recognition Wall” page, and also displays your running total for donations. Other plugins also exist for donations are also made via PayPal, with specific emphasis on efficient handling of multiple accounts and different currencies (avoiding higher PayPal transaction fees).
#5: Back to Work?
Now it’s time for productivity. With everything that’s built in to, or available for WordPress, you now need never be short of a good word processor. If you’re out and about and spot an Internet café, then you can log onto your WordPress site to use the word-processing facilities inside it. They’re up-to-date, you don’t have to install any further software and there are no privacy issues (unlike certain other online solutions).
Weird, slightly geeky (only a bit) but a testimony to the combined power of WordPress and imagination: using WordPress as your task manager. This application is attributed to Dustin Wax. The starting point is the capability of WordPress to accept posts by email or phone (for example, WordPress on your iPhone, if you have one). Send a post in like this every time you want to declare a task you have to do. At the end of the day use Feedburner to send those posts to your in-box, where you can then prioritize (it’s a start), do (better) or dump them in a list (hmm…). You could also schedule all your tasks by arranging them in an ordered timeline, using another WordPress plugin, WP SIMILE Timeline.
Now you’ll never be at a loss for knowing what you need to do and when.
Tell us your experiences
Have you used any of the WordPress plugins mentioned in this article? Can you make a comparison between WordPress-based tools and their third party equivalent? We’re interested in hearing feedback from people who make creative use of WordPress.
You may also be interested in this article: 5 Innovative Uses of WordPress for Business Owners