Dept of Health switches to WordPress

Congratulations to Stephen Hale and the team at DH for finally making the leap, and moving their corporate web presence over to WordPress.

Stephen hinted at such a move back in February, when he blogged about their successful use of WP for a number of subsites: ‘having dipped a toe in,’ he wrote, ‘it’s tempting to go a bit further than we originally planned.’ Clearly though, Stephen’s plans have moved on quite a bit since the start of the year: in a blog post last week, he described this as ‘phase 2 of 4′ (!).

As with our work for Defra, they’ve opted not to redesign the site: it still looks (broadly) the same as it did, although not identical, and the trained eye will spot a more WordPress-friendly approach to sidebars and things. Nor have they migrated most of the old content: it will remain accessible until it’s out of date, at which point it’ll be moved to an (unspecified) archive. I don’t think anyone would call that a perfect solution, but these are cash-strapped times, and it’s almost certainly good enough.

The project – driven by Steph Gray, including some input from Mike Little – is based on HealthPress, the same TwentyTen-based child theme Steph developed for those aforementioned subsites. Back in February, I wrote that the code ‘isn’t pushing the technology’s boundaries too hard’ – and really, that’s still the case. But I stress, I don’t write that as a criticism. It’s to Steph’s great credit, and that of WordPress itself of course, that he’s made the site work with just a vanilla WP instance. Amazing what you can do with posts & pages, tags & categories, a bunch of widgets, and a few ‘usual suspect’ plugins.

Stephen very kindly referenced the Word Up Whitehall event from last October as having provided ‘a moment of epiphany': if there’s a direct line to be drawn from there to here, then I’m absolutely delighted my little get-together served its purpose. Maybe it’s time for a follow-up.

That’s now four Whitehall departments running their primary websites on WordPress: Transport, Health, Defra and the Wales Office; plus Downing Street, of course, and several – Cabinet Office, BIS, DFID, DECC – using it for secondary elements of their corporate websites.

So does that make it the most used ‘CMS’ for Whitehall departments’ primary sites? I rather think it might. :D