What Wordpress functions / features / plugins would organize this site?
January 22, 2014 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Web developers: My university research lab wants to drag our website out of 1998 to a more easy-to-maintain and attractive design. We're tending towards using Wordpress, mostly for its large install base and plugin market. However our website won't follow the typical blog page/post format that Wordpress seems to support by default - it's more like a library with inter-related content types. Something like this is beautiful but probably out of our budget. Those with Wordpress experience, what default features should we try to use? Or is there a plugin / theme that does what we want already?

Wordpress features I've come across that seem like they might work:

- Posts with Custom fields / metadata?
- Default Taxonomies (Category / Tag ?)
- Custom Taxonomies? ( http://codex.wordpress.org/Taxonomies )
- Custom plugins?

What we mainly need is to be able to present, as a page list, a sortable table, hyperlinks, and/or individual pages:

1) A list of Projects, which have:

- A text Description
- Date
- Have Publications
- Have Researchers

2) A list of Publications, which have:

- An Abstract
- PDF Download
- Date
- DOI ()
- Have Projects
- Have Researchers
- ...

3) A page of Researchers, who have:

- A Biography
- Photo
- Have Projects
- Have Publications
- ...

Not knowing much about the limitations / benefits of WordPress, I'm not sure what terms to start searching for, or how to reverse-engineer websites that we like. Any advice welcome!
posted by anthill to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: WordPress is absolutely what you want. Install the Types plugin and you can make it do pretty much whatever you want.
posted by jbickers at 1:07 PM on January 22, 2014

I don't know a lot about WordPress plugins, but having looked at your link (the one you like and want to emulate), that seems totally doable with WordPress.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:11 PM on January 22, 2014

Yes, it sounds like WordPress would be perfect for what you're looking to do.

I haven't used the Types plugin mentioned by jbickers personally, but it looks really robust and sounds to me like it'd help you manage all your custom post types successfully.

You'd probably end up setting up custom post types for Projects and Publications; you might consider handling Researchers as WP authors, so in order to associate the Projects/Publications to them, you'd make them the authors of those items.

In terms of design, if you're going with a free theme (or, really, even a paid one) you'll probably want to look for ones that describe themselves as "magazine style" or "newspaper" or "publication" - those sorts of words. I think that'll get you close to the style you're looking for.

The beauty of WordPress is that it can do stuff WAY beyond your basic blog format!
posted by meggan at 1:28 PM on January 22, 2014

I know a few research groups that run Drupal + various modules to automatically deal with bibliography, news, etc. I don't recall the name of the module, but there's a bibliography module that lets you import bibtex files. There's a group dedicated to this that may be worth checking out.

Just keep in mind that if you go to something Wordpress or Drupal, you need to make sure someone is around to manage security patches. Universities are ripe targets for crackers because a compromised machine gives them access to an incredibly fast, unmonitored internet connection. Security has been my lab's biggest issue re: our website. Grad students come and go, and you cannot rely on them coming in with web security experience. On the plus side, these days both WP and Drupal make it easy to automate (or at least streamline) security patching.
posted by spiderskull at 1:29 PM on January 22, 2014

I've heard good things about the Posts to Posts plugin, but haven't used it yet. Would probably be useful in your case. Types looks good.

Pods looks pretty powerful as well.

A couple other plugins you may find useful:

Gravity Forms - if you're going to have a form on your site, this plugin is great. I use it on all of my sites.

Download Monitor - you may want to just have your project files be posts on the site (or a custom post type), but take a look at this plugin too.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:39 PM on January 22, 2014

The site you like and want to emulate is running WordPress with a Zurb Foundation-based template, probably one like WP Foundation or these.

Or, at least, I guess so in view of the W3 Total Cache comment in their code, plus the Zurb-like class names.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:01 PM on January 22, 2014

You might check out the WP them annotum. I think it has at least a couple of variations. It is intended as a scholarly journal. I had it kind of bookmarked wondering if it would fit well with one of my projects. I never used it. It might fit your project to a T, though I can't say for sure. But it sounds like what you want to do is the kind of thing it is intended to accomplish.



Best of luck
posted by Michele in California at 4:58 PM on January 22, 2014

I agree with people upthread that Wordpress might be suitable for you, the site you linked runs on an open source system called Fez but it looks fairly large scale.

I run a WP site with 500 longform articles. I completely stripped down the factory theme and wrote a custom page template. Each Category overview page generates a list of article titles out of its child pages (via SQL query in the PHP) and lets the user sort them in-page (clickable tabs with CSS + JS).For local dev I use MAMP; a Firefox plugin called WebDeveloper; TextWrangler and Filezilla. I use these WP plugins: Wordfence Security; WhiteLabel CMS; CMSTreeView; Simple LoginLog; Subpage Navigation Widget; Wordpress Backup to Dropbox; Head MetaData; WP-MPDF; Google Analytics. I would have something with permission and revision control but there are only a few users. Seconding good security. The site was completely destroyed by hackers once when I didn't update in a while. Had backups though.
posted by yoHighness at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2014

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