The finished website for Haitian National Red Cross
I am currently helping to create a website for a national Red Cross Society that doesn’t have a website yet. If you find that surprising, keep in mind that the Red Cross Red Crescent has 186 National Societies and many of them are in very poor countries where other things have a higher priority. And that is not necessarily a bad thing – after all what good is a website if you don’t have the resources to maintain it?
Anyhow, this project gives me the rather enviable opportunity to create something from scratch without having to worry about integrating any other systems or databases. And of course, in my mind I have played the “what if”-game many times. Now is my chance to put it into practice.
- Website must be easy to maintain
- Must have a backend
- Must have a backend in a language that can be used by the people maintaining it
- Multilingual support
- Site should be up as quickly as possible
- Big developer community
With all that in mind I suggested to use WordPress as a CMS to drive the website. The National Society accepted this proposal and I have been fine tuning it since then. It’s running on a dedicated virtual server. For the design we decided to modify a premium theme.
Below is the set-up that I have in place so far. Please chip in, if you have any additional suggestions. I hope others will find it useful as well. All plug-ins can be downloaded from http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/
- After the deadline
Checks spelling, style and grammar of your English language posts.
- Category header content
Let’s you add HTML at the top of your category or tag-pages. In my opinion, you shouldn’t need a plugin to do that, but it’s the only way I found to add custom text to the top of category or tag-pages.
- Contact Form 7
A customizable contact form. Supports many languages.
- Dagon Design Sitemap Generator
Generates a human readable sitemap.
- Easily navigate pages on dashboard
The site will have a lot of pages (as opposed to posts). This plugin makes it easier to jump to individual pages.
- Google XML Sitemaps
Adds a Google XML site map.
- Lightview Plus
Improves the standard WordPress gallery and has slide show features. I have not figured out how to make this multi lingual yet. The plugin requires that you buy the lightview script for 3 euros.
- Media Tags
Allows you to assign tags to your media files which will make it easier to find them in the future.
- Registered Users only
Hides the site from anonymous users while still under development.
Adds Twitter/Facebook etc. “share” buttons to all posts and pages. I love how customizable this plugin is!
- WP DB backup
Emails me a complete database backup every day. The frequency is customizable, as are the tables that are being backed up.
- WPML multilingual CMS
This plugin is seriously impressive! WPML does not only create a multilingual structure for your site but also helps your editors with the translation workflow and even supports translations of widgets and text-strings (though that doesn’t always work 100%). Since my day job is to maintain a multilingual site I can tell you that I’d be much happier if we had this! The plugin was developed by a translation company that integrates their translation services into the plugin. Very smart.
- WPtouch iPhone theme
Delivers site news for mobile devices (not just iPhones). Since the site is for a disaster-prone country where mobile phone are widely used, this could be a useful feature.
I am still looking for a good comments-plugin that is available in multiple languages. Please leave a comment if you know one.
Update 17 may 2012: In light of a recent successful hack of this blog I’d like to make two security-related additions:
- Simple Login Lockdown
After five unsuccessful login attempts, it blocks the IP address of the person trying to log in for a certain time (default is one hour)
- Sucuri Security
Sucuri is a service first and plugin second. For 90 USD per year, Sucuri monitors your site to make sure that nobody is making changes without your knowledge and cleans up your site if it has been infected with malware. The nice thing is, that you can even sign up if your site has already been infected. Their service also includes a plugin that helps you to close some WordPress vulnerabilities and blocks IP addresses which are known to be the source of comment spam. While Sucuri costs money, I found that it’s definitely worth it.
What would you add to this list?