CMS your WordPress with these 10 plugins

There are 2 ways to make WordPress into a better CMS. The first way involves a lot more time spent building your theme and ultimately a lot more cost. The second way uses third party plugins to extend your CMS’ functionality.

If I could install any 10 plugins to make a CMS more CMS-like, these would definitely be on my list:

  1. Page Link Manager – If you’re using WordPress as a CMS, it’s quite likely that you’ll be using pages instead of posts. The Page Link Manager plugin installs a simple menu that allows you to check which pages you want included in your main navigation.
  2. My Page Order – Often, you’ll want to display your WordPress page navigation in a list, and you’ll probably want to have some control over the way those menu items display. My Page Order allows you to move pages around the list. It can also be used to move child pages around the navigation menu.
  3. Widget Logic – This plugin allows you to display different widgets on different pages. So now you can display a specific set of widgets on your blog, another set on your home page, and yet another on your product pages. The plugin uses conditional tags to trigger the logic bit.
  4. Yoast Breadcrumbs – Since the early days of the Internet, breadcrumbs have been used to show visitors where they are on your site. This simple plugin installs above your content and can easily be styled to suit your theme’s look.
  5. Search Everything – The default WordPress search function searches only blog posts. On a CMS, you want both pages and posts to be searchable. Search Everything gives you this added functionality.
  6. Analytics360 – I wasn’t going to add this one to my list, but 2 days into it, I’m loving having a Google Analytics system right on my WordPress Dashboard. Not only does the plugin display Google stats, it also shows when you published blog posts and can be integrated with the Mail Chimp e-mail management app. This one is great for blogs and corporate sites.
  7. WP-CMS Post Control – Even though WordPress has a simple page editing interface, it can still get cluttered, especially for new users. The WP-CMS Post Control plugin lets you set which write panels appear in your editing pages, de-cluttering it beautifully.
  8. Widgets Reloaded – 2 words. GET THIS. Justin Tadlock has created a widget set that pushes WordPress further than anything anyone has ever done before. In a nutshell, the plugin gives your widgets the ability to do anything. They’ll even make you coffee. OK, not really.
  9. Flutter – I haven’t quite got to grips with Flutter yet, and the video tutorials on the Flutter site leave a lot to be desired, but the idea is brilliant. You can set write panels to do pretty much anything on a post or a page, including adding images, file uploads, video or content. So, for a company CMS with loads of repetitive page structures, the Flutter write panels could be a massive time saver.
  10. Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu – This neat little plugin converts the WordPress admin panel’s navigation from the left of the page to simple drop down menus on the top of the dashboard. The result: All the plugins you’ve installed in steps 1-9 above are a heck of a lot easier to find.

Obviously you can have too many plugins, so it pays to only use a plugin if it’s really going to help make your site easier to manage. Know of any more I should have included?

  • Kim Woodbridge

    This is a great list Dave! Thanks for putting it together :-) I’ve never heard of Flutter so I’m going to check it out – sounds mysterious and poorly documented.

    I saw your note about this on Facebook – so yay for Facebook :-)

  • Rick Castellini

    Kim recommended this article, and I’m glad to add it to my WordPress resources. I have one question, if you don’t mind, about the “Search Everything” plugin. I moved my site from Drupal to WordPress earlier this year. The Drupal search and indexing is incredibly robust and deep. It blows away the search available with default install of WP. I’m currently using a Google Search plugin, would the Search Everything work as well or better? Thanks.

  • Nigel Lamb


    I’ll refer back to this in the future and remember to specify some of the items in future projects.

    Thanks for the great list.

  • Rick Castellini

    Thanks Dave. You did answer the question. I’m just curious as to why WordPress hasn’t studied the crazy good search strategies Drupal uses and incorporate them into WordPress. If I was a programmer type person, I would love to help out on a project like that. After all, isn’t search everything?

    By the way, Kim helped me massage the Google Search into my site, but it still isn’t as accurate or fast as what I was used to with my Drupal site, but that is the ONLY downside I have had since moving to WordPress.

  • Christine Rondeau

    HI Dave,

    Great list. I didn’t know about the page link manager and will have to look it up.

    I’m not convince about the need to use search everything. I am only using the basic search on my blog and if you do a search for say “enhance” you will see that some of my portfolio pieces which are pages show up. I think that WordPress changed that in version 2.5, but I’m not sure.

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  • ProductSearch

    This is a great list of plugins for worpress.

    im looking more into it in a few months

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  • Thomas Clausen

    As part of the Google Summer of Code there has been made a plugin that provides a much better search, and it’s supposed to be part of core in WP 2.9

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Justin Tadlocks Query Posts, because that’s just evil when combined with widget logic.

    • Dave

      I forgot about Query Posts. I’ll have to go back and add it. Thanks for the comment and the reminder!

  • Randy

    Thank you, thank you! I have been wondering about a plugin like flutter. I always use WordPress as a CMS and I was doing a real estate site that had so many fields for input and I was hoping the client would understand the Custom field concept!

    It always seemed non-userfriendly IMO that you gave the option to use these “custom fields” on any page rather than just the one related to its content.

    This is a MUST plugin! I will start learning it immediately!

    • Dave

      Hi Randy. Thanks for the comment. Check out Jon’s comment for information on PODS as a possible alternative to Flutter.

  • Jon MacDonald

    You should really check out PODS as well. It is similar to Flutter, but more robust and without all the nasty show-stopping bugs:

    From the project’s site:

    “Pods is a CMS framework that lets you create, manage, and display your own content types. Don’t bother hacking blog posts into becoming something they’re not. With Pods, create entirely new data structures with only the fields you need. Like Drupal CCK, you can set up relationships, allowing for a whole new level of interconnectedness.”

    • Dave

      Hi Jon, thanks for stopping by. This is why I love comments! I’d never heard of Pods until now, so I can’t comment on it. But I’ll definitely take a look.

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  • Joseph

    Love the list!! Will have to check them all out for my next project to help simplify some development! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Gilbert

    Hi Dave. Nice post. I don’t know if you’ve seen this one before but I created a plugin called WP-CMS. Have a look at

    • Dave

      Hi Gilbert, thanks for commenting. I’m going to be doing a pages-only site next week and your plugin may just be what I need. I’ll let you know.

  • Dave Sparks

    The latest version of wordpress (2.8.4) definetly runs searches on pages and not just blog posts by default.
    Google analytics is certainly a great plugin to have. I have been using more fields
    to manage my input areas, you can create certain groups of pages with a different set of write/edit boxes.

    • Dave

      You’re right Dave. 2.8.4 does search pages. I missed that in my post. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Mark

    This is the best looking list of CMS plugins that I’ve found in a long time. Now to go try some of these out!
    .-= Mark´s last blog ..Brand U.O – Personal Branding =-.

    • Dave

      Thanks for stopping by Mark. If you have any feedback on these plugins please let me know. It’s always interesting to see what other developers get them to do.

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  • jimmysessions

    Another plugin that is great for wordpress CMS sites is AWS Easy Page Link. It makes it easy to add internal links to your pages or post.
    .-= jimmysessions´s last blog ..Intern Extraordinaire Travels To The Big Apple =-.

  • Kim Doyal

    Great list Dave!
    I’ve used the widget locationizer before – but am going to check out the widget logic (as well as a few of the other plugins!),
    Going to retweet this now….thanks!
    Kim Doyal
    .-= Kim Doyal´s last blog ..Best WordPress Design….voting opens next week =-.

    • Dave

      Thanks for RT Kim. It brought me some much welcomed traffic. And thanks for commenting. I’m using widget logic on a side-project at the moment where there are 2 specific areas (one for publishers and one for readers) and it definitely makes the site look more professional being able to separate the sidebar content accordingly.

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  • Mike De Greef

    Great List!!!!!!!!!!!
    I love logic widget, tried this so long to code myself but i didn’t knew it was in a widget.
    Thanks to you my live is better, relaxer!

    Keep my posted about wp and cms!

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  • Mike Wagan

    thanks for these plugins for using WordPress as CMS. I will definitely use it in the next site I’ll be building for my client, they’ll sure to be amazed at how good WordPress as a CMS is above other dedicated CMSes.
    .-= Mike Wagan´s last blog ..How To Make Windows 7 Run Faster =-.

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  • Blog Header Guy


    This is a great list. I’d seen the Analytics360 plugin, but never used it…until today that is.


    .-= Blog Header Guy´s last blog ..Blog Header Design Makeover#5-Knoxville Marketing Coach =-.

  • Måns Jonasson


    may I post a link to my own plugin for CMS:ing WP?

    PageTree ( ) is a plugin which adds an admin menu option for a much better view of your pages, when you have more than 10-20 pages in your WP setup. Take a look and I hope you find it useful.


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  • Marcos Watanabe

    Thx for these tips! They are really useful!
    .-= Marcos Watanabe´s last blog ..Interfile participa do 5º Seminário de Outsourcing =-.

  • Ayo

    Nice post. What plugin do you use for your social networking links at the bottom of your post. Its a very neat design?

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  • Dave Wilkinson

    Hi Kim, thanks for popping by. I’m pretty keen to try Flutter out on a CMS project too. I’ve got it running on my blog, but I’m hardly pushing it to extremes here.

    And you saw this on Facebook? I didn’t know people still used Facebook ;-)

  • Dave Wilkinson

    Thank you for the recommendation Kim, and Hi Rick!

    Search everything is a vast improvement on the default WP search, which is probably WordPress’ least impressive feature. That said, I don’t believe any 3rd party plugin is ever going to trump Google when it comes to search.

    If you were making the decision today whether or not to add Google search to your site, I’d suggest trying Search Everything first, but seen as you’ve already made the switch, I don’t think there’s any point in trying this plugin.

    I hope my rambling kind of answers your question.

  • Dave Wilkinson

    Hi Nigel, I’ll be sure to mention it if I think any of these are right for one of your projects.

  • Dave Wilkinson

    Hi Christine, you’ve raised an interesting point about WordPress’ search. Perhaps they have improved it in recent releases. I’ll do some digging and see if I can get some answers. Thanks for your comment.