17 websites you didn’t know you could build with WordPress

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WordPress can be used to create so much more than just blogs or simple websites. Although a majority of sites built on the platform are just that, it is capable of being the basis for all kinds of complex and unique websites.

WordPress is really a canvas for creating practically whatever kind of website you can dream of. That’s part of what makes it so amazing and fun to work with. Through the magic of plugins and themes, all kinds of functionality can be added.

Below I will be going through some of the many different types of websites you can build with WordPress.

1. Forum

Forums are online bulletin boards where groups can get together and discuss items around a certain topic. There are forums for any imaginable topic ranging from off the grid living to automotive enthusiasts to lovers of exotic pets. The most popular plugin for creating a forum using WordPress is bbPress. It’s made by Automattic, the creators of WordPress so it integrates very well and has a large support community. In fact, the WordPress Support forum is built with bbPress. Other options for turning your website into a forum are available here.

2. Online store

Creating an online store is now easier than ever. To turn your WordPress website into an online store all you need is an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce. It’s also created by Automattic, the makers of WordPress. You can sell anything from digital products to physical goods and you can set up many different payment options.

With WooCommerce you can manage inventory, taxes and shipping configurations. Check out the WooCommerce showcase to see what can be built with it.

3. Job board

Do you need to create a website that allows users to post and search for jobs? With a plugin like WP Job Manager, you can do just that. It can be used to add a help wanted section to your site or to create an entire job search site. Features include new job alerts for job seekers, employer job submission area, and it’s shortcode based to easily integrate with your site.

4. Q&A 

Question and Answer websites are all over the internet. These allow visitors to ask questions about a specific topic and people can answers those questions, with the best answer chosen by the asker of the question. These include sites like Quora, Yahoo! Answers, Stack Overflow, Answers.com and many others covering a wide variety of topics.

Some sites allow certain answers to be given votes on what is the best answer. A certain answer might be chosen as the best by the asker of the question but others viewing the question can “upvote” other answers that are deemed relevant. An important feature to look for in a good Q&A plugin is the ability to have comments in addition to answers to a particular question. These comments can be used to provide additional details about the question or allow visitors to comment on a specific answer. Two popular plugins for adding Q&A functionality to your site are DW Question & Answer and AnsPress – Question and Answer.

5. Auction

Whether you are looking to create your own auction site or integrate your eBay listings into WordPress there are several options. Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin adds auction capability, which is great if you create your own auction site where visitors can bid on items as well as create their own listings. While Auction Nudge adds your eBay listings to WordPress so that you can advertise your eBay items on your site but still have eBay handle everything else.

6. Wiki or knowledge base

Wikis and knowledge bases often get grouped together because they have a similar purpose, provide a reference of comprehensive knowledge on certain topics. For that reason, a lot of WordPress “Wiki” themes and plugins really are knowledge bases, not Wikis.

The big difference between the two is that Wikis are created via collaboration from a community and a knowledge base is created and managed by a single entity, usually a company that owns the product covered by the knowledge base. A Wiki allows users to submit changes without being required to go through a specific moderator.

There are several Wiki/Knowledge Base themes and plugins in the WordPress directory but they are really for creating a knowledge base. Those are Encyclopedia / Glossary / Wiki (plugin), MyWiki (theme) and MyKnowledgeBase (theme).

For a WordPress wiki/knowledge base solution that allows user submissions and the ability to vote answers as helpful, check out Pixel Knowledge Base.

7. Podcasting

Podcasting has become incredibly popular in the last several years, in part because anyone with a computer and a microphone can get started. Creating your own podcast website is also easy to do with WordPress. All you need is a podcast plugin and podcast hosting, like SoundCloud. For the plugin, there are several options.

The first is PowerPress Podcasting plugin by Blubrry. BluBrry is a podcast hosting platform and the plugin lets you manage your Blubrry hosted podcasts through the WordPress Dashboard with simple or advanced modes.

Another option is Seriously Simple Podcasting By Castos. It also has an option to host your podcasts with Castros and allows you to manage everything through the WordPress dashboard using simple settings.

Both services offer statistics for your podcasts and allow visitors to subscribe to your podcasts via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or any other podcast service.

8. Social network

Even complex social networks can be built with WordPress, all you need is a plugin. BuddyPress is the ultimate social network plugin for WordPress. BuddyPress users can create and edit profiles, send private messages, create groups, become friends with each other and follow activity streams (similar to a Facebook feed). With a large support community, you can find answers to many questions and solve any potential problems while using BuddyPress.

According to the BuddyPress website, the software has been used to create social networks for schools and local communities, an internal communication tool for companies, and to create communities for particular products and services.

Another plugin for creating a social network is PeepSo. Core features include private chat, friend connections, uploading photos and photo albums, reactions (similar to Facebook likes), user groups and more. While not as popular as BuddyPress, Peepso does have 2,000+ installations and appears to have good support.

9. Aggregator

An Aggregator displays content from other websites and takes you to those sites when you click the links on the aggregator. Some websites use aggregation to take someone else’s content and portray it as their own, which is stealing. Plenty of sites aggregate content legitimately and link the visitor directly to the original source of the article. Popular examples include sites like Alltop and Drudge Report.

WP RSS Aggregator is a plugin that will turn your WordPress website into a content aggregator by taking RSS feeds from other sites and displaying links to them on your site. This is great for adding up to date news on certain topics to your website. Alternatively, you can create an entire website dedicated to covering a topic with multiple sources of information.

10. News

A WordPress news site can be created with nothing more than a news style theme and some content, either your own or aggregated as mentioned above. There are hundreds of news themes in the WordPress theme directory. My favorite is Colormag. The free version has multiple front page widgets to display your posts by category in several formats that really lets you customize the layout of your site. Their support forum is really helpful if you have problems with the theme or need help with customizations.

11. CRM (Customer Relational Management)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is software that keeps track of information relating to a business’s customers or potential customers and the interactions between them.

Businesses use CRM software to maintain customer relationships by tracking customer service issues, identifying sales opportunities and managing marketing campaigns. It is also used to track trends with current customers to find new ways of attracting new customers.

Plenty of options exist to add CRM capabilities to your WordPress website for you to manage customer information. These include:

12. Booking

Booking can cover a large number of uses; hotel reservations, restaurant reservations, salon appointments, business meetings, event tickets, you name it. There is no shortage of booking or event scheduling plugins for WordPress. Some of the options are:

All of these plugins are going to have the basic features of displaying available time slots and allowing users to reserve one. Since there are many different uses for a booking system each of these will have different features so check each one out to see what fits your needs.  

13. Classifieds

Online classified listings like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist are popular ways to sell items locally. Listings similar to those can be added to WordPress to create your own classified website if you prefer not to use either one of those platforms. To add that capability you will need to install a plugin like WPAdverts – Classifieds Plugin, Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro or AWPCP – Classifieds Plugin.

14. LMS (Learning Management System)

Thanks to the internet, gaining access to learning material that was previously out of reach is now much easier. LMS platforms like edX, Coursera and Khan Academy have opened the doors for anyone to have the opportunity to learn any number of subjects. You can replicate these sites to create your own learning platform with the help of LearnPress or LifterLMS. The features include the ability to add assignments and quizzes, offer certificates of completion, sell courses and take payment via Paypal, Stripe or WooCommerce.

Both plugins are great for creating an online curriculum for a school or university. You could even create your own courses for coaching or training purposes. Combine one of them with one of the many education-based themes in the WordPress theme directory to finish off your LMS.

15. Box Office

Need to sell tickets to a theatre production, concert or other event? WordPress has you covered there too. Whether you want to sell e-tickets, physical tickets or both there are several plugins available. Sell Tickets, StageShow and My Tickets allow you to sell tickets to your event through your WordPress website. If you need a full-featured ticket sales solution with tons of options, Sell Tickets would be my first choice. It’s the official plugin of Ticket Tailor, a complete ticket sales and management service. Ticket Tailor charges $25/month for their base plan.

16. Project management

Keeping track of project details and milestones is a hassle without software or an automated system. Your WordPress website can easily be turned into a project management hub with any of the following plugins: WordPress Project Management by UpStream, WP Project Manager, TaskBreaker – Group Project Management. The features between them vary a bit but they all have the main characteristics you would expect from project management software like the ability to maintain users, tasks and milestones, task/project discussions and progress tracking.

17. Help desk/Trouble ticketing

Help desk software or a trouble ticketing system is crucial for keeping track of customer complaints and support cases. Having a way for customers to request support for your products or services directly on your website allows cases to be maintained and organized in one central location where they can be dealt with in an efficient way. Creating a help desk/trouble ticket system from your WordPress website can be accomplished with JS Support Ticket, uCare and Awesome Support. All three allow users to submit tickets through the front end of the site and allow admins to manage the ticket from the back end.

Final thought

As you can see WordPress is capable of powering so much more than just blogs. You can create any one of the sites listed above or anything else. If you can imagine it, chances are there is a plugin for it. The idea of WordPress only being used for a blog is long gone, now the options are endless. This is great news for anyone looking to be an entrepreneur and create his or her own website and turn ideas into a side job or main source of income.

If you haven’t already started a WordPress website, check out Beginning WordPress: Steps to Take When Setting Up Your First WordPress Website.

I build and maintain multiple WordPress websites. By using the experience gained from building these sites I help others create and customize their own websites.
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