Team Armentum / 2 months ago
WordPress is not just a blogging platform, it is much more than that. With time, WordPress has evolved into a full fledged content management system (CMS) and can even develop web application, in less time and at a lower budget.
Now a days developers are seeing the potential for using WordPress as a way to build web applications. WordPress is the perfect system for a publicly accessible website, but it requires a little customization to lock it down for use as an application platform.
When it comes to build web apps in WordPress the question comes as what are the different layers of building an web app:
Database Layer: Where the data is stored.
Application Layer: Responsible for coordinating user interaction with the database.
Presentation Layer: What the users see and where they interact with.
This article will introduce the idea of building a WordPress Web App.
Using WordPress for Web App
To make the process of building web applications easier there are many web application frameworks that have been developed. Moreover, WordPress has several features that make it a perfect choice for developing web apps:
Theme: With WordPress, the designing part for the web app pages becomes easier. It offers flexible themes that can be used for designing.
Security, user registration and login: WordPress has user roles, which can be assigned to different capabilities like editing posts and many others.
Database and URL mapping: WordPress can easily connect to database and run the queries. One can easily add or modify the rewrite rules and modify URLs using WordPress.
CRUD Apps: WordPress works very well for apps with simple operations like Create, Read, Update, Delete.
Tools for Building Web Apps in WordPress
WordPress has custom data capabilities in the form of custom fields, post types and classifications, but tools for working with them have been left up to plugins. Here are a few tools that have proven quite useful in moving WordPress away from simple blogging:
Piklist: This tool helps to create custom post types and taxonomies, add metaboxes and metafields to all the WordPress data types and create settings pages and widgets. The Piklist Framework can be downloaded for free from the WordPress repository.
Gravity Forms: With this tool one can create forms to do CRUD operations on posts, pages and custom post types, as well as take advantage of functionality like commerce, scheduling and logic. It is a paid tool and doesn’t include any add-on.
Advanced Custom Fields (ACF): This tool is developers’ favorite and provides way to visually create custom data fields of various types and easily load data through a simple API. The ACF Framework can be downloaded for free from the WordPress repository.
WordPress REST API: With REST API the interaction between a non-WordPress front end and the WordPress back end becomes easy and smooth. When it comes to using WordPress for web apps, considering REST API is must.
Smartcrawl: This plugin makes a site more visible to search engines by informing web crawlers when the site has any important content. SmartCrawl can also create a sitemap, customize how the titles and descriptions appear on search engines, add automated keyword linking.
WP Smush Pro: It is the best image compression and optimization plugin. Not only that, but it works in a way that saves storage space and helps the site load faster without reducing the quality of your images.
W3 Total Cache: has a wide range of features and goes beyond just being a simple caching plugin. Fully configured, this plugin can have a serious impact on load times. W3 Total Cache can be downloaded for free from the WordPress repository.
iThemes Security: It is straightforward to use and has a quick setup that makes a number of important security adjustments with a single click. iThemes Security is free and can be downloaded from the WordPress repository.
BackupBuddy: It can be used to run a full backup and then import a website onto the new server without even installing WordPress. BackupBuddy is reliable and comes with features that save time. It is a paid tool.
Redirection: It manages all of our URL redirects and makes it easy to add redirects for 404 errors. Redirection is free and can be downloaded from the WordPress repository.
Yoast SEO: Formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast, this is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today. It incorporates everything from a snippet editor and real time page analysis functionality that helps optimize the pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.
Google Analyticator: This is a straightforward plugin that allows us to easily add our Google Analytics code and gives us an easy way of stopping logged in users from being tracked. Google Analyticator is free and can be downloaded from the WordPress repository.
Edit Flow: This plugin is a complete solution for managing editorial workflow. The posts can be discussed via an editorial comments section which sends out email notifications when comments are added. This is a free tool.
Leadpages: It handles everything from creating landing pages and hosting them to delivering digital assets. This is more than a plugin; it’s a complete landing page platform. It is a paid tool.
Akismet: It is one of the most popular and effective ways to combat spam. It’s different to a lot of plugins because it’s actually a web-based service that checks comments against their own system. It is a fully paid tool.
TablePress: Tables can contain any type of data, including formulas. With TablePress, we can easily create tables that can be embedded into posts, pages, or text widgets by using a Shortcode.
Appointments +: With this tool it’s easier and efficient to organize appointments digitally. This plugin also lets users book and even pay for appointments themselves.
Apart from the above mentioned tools, there are few other plugins that are domain specific and allow developers to do awesome things with WordPress:
For eCommerce Solution
WooCommerce: It is an open source eCommerce plugin for WordPress and is the most popular eCommerce solution built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress. WooCommerce gives both users and developers complete control and the user can sell both physical and digital goods in all shapes and sizes. WooCommerce powers 30% of all online stores, more than any other platform. There are even few plugins that are compatible with WooCommerce and can work wonderfully together:
For Social Networking
BuddyPress: It enables developers build modern and sophisticated social network softwares. It also enables users to create profiles, have private conversations, make connections, create and interact in groups. In short, BuddyPress is a simple yet powerful social network software.
For Discussion Forum
bbPress: It can be installed as a WordPress plugin into a WordPress powered website. It is a free, open source forum software built on top of WordPress. It works with most standard compliant WordPress themes and offers an easy way to add a forum to a WordPress website.
Let’s have a look on three awesome web apps that are built on WordPress and running successfully in the market:
YouTooCanRun: It uses a combination of the Event Espresso and WooCommerce plugins to provide the needed functionality. YouTooCanRun is a custom WordPress solution for managing the organization of marathon races, including paid registration of participants, generation of bib numbers and management of the event.
StudyChurch: It pieces together several WordPress plugins, such as BuddyPress, and a forum to enable users to write lessons that are available to group members who can then discuss and collaborate on the answers. StudyChurch is a web app designed to help small church groups work through study materials together.
Hello Bar: It is a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) platform designed to help users monetize their websites by building an email list. It provides you with ways to promote content, get more subscribers and measure and test the effectiveness of your campaigns. They took advantage of WordPress’ built-in user management with custom themes and plugins to provide an experience that looks nothing like WordPress.
WordPress has indeed come a long way from being just a blogging platform to an exciting platform for creating web apps more quickly and at a low budget. Though WordPress is not preferred to meet all web application needs, it can be a very useful tool for certain types of web apps.
It’s time to use WordPress for more than a basic website. Explore its dynamic sides and create awesome web apps with it. WordPress is a perfect example of how various technologies come together to form a web application.