Is anyone here using their Discourse instance as their entire website?

Thanks @debryc :slight_smile:

I would add that it’s all Pavilion members, and not just me, who maintain our work. Our cooperative is team effort.

I’d also add that we just open sourced our Landing Pages Plugin, which allows for entirely independent pages, backed by a discourse instance; another way of fulfiling the need discussed in this topic. That plugin seperates the pages frontend from the discourse client (i.e. it doesn’t load the discourse app), while still allowing for easy integration via a common backend (i.e. the Discourse server).

We’re already starting the process of using that plugin with some of our clients to fulfil similar needs to those discussed here. We’re also looking at developing easy-to-use generailized open source packages of pages based on common uses cases for a CMS associated with a community, useable with that plugin.

Here’s the current list of use cases we have in mind to receive this treatment.

  • Blog (I’m currently working on this one). Compose content in discourse and then present it in an entirely independent blog page, which you can theme like an actual blog (i.e. like Wordpress or Ghost).

  • Product, service or feature pages (like ours). Display products, services or features that may include content or data (categories, tags, topics, users etc) from your discourse instance.

  • “Team” pages (like ours). A page for your team, using the membership (and user data) from a Discourse user group.

  • Event pages, for both listing and displaying event data from your discourse instance in a styled event landing page. “Event data” here could be combination of Discourse Calendar Plugin data, categories, topics, users (e.g. rsvps), and locations (using our Locations Plugin).

We’re interested in other generalizable use cases that people think would benefit from this treatment. I would note now that there are some use cases we’ve already considered which are less likely to recieve this treatment at this stage:

  • Shop. While there may be page that integrates elements of a store, online stores require a large array of functionality that will always require a dedicated solution such as WooCommerce or Shopify.

  • Knowledge Base. This need is already well-served by solutions like the Knowledge Explorer Plugin. A landing page may display a subset of a knowledge base, but entirely replicating the functionality of something like the Knowledge Explorer Plugin (or just Discourse topic lists) would be counterproductive.

We’re also interested in working with anyone who wants to develop such pages, either as a development project in-of-itself (e.g. to improve their skills), for their community, or even to sell. We’re looking to release our own free open source packages for each use case in the medium term (4 to 6 months).

The landing pages plugin, Pavilion’s own pages will always be 100% open source and free. However this is a generalizable structure which anyone with knowledge of HTML and CSS could use to develop a “page pack” if they wanted to. I’ll be adding a “developer guide” to the knowledge docs for that plugin soonish.

The Landing Pages plugin already supports hosting pages in private repositories in the same way the Discourse theme system does (indeed, behind the scenes it is based on and extends the Discourse theme system). This means its already possible to sell access to a landing pages pack if you wanted to. Thay may make it worthwhile for other developers to build such packs.

This approach won’t address all needs for content management associated with a forum, but it could serve a subset quite well, particularly those we reguarly see with smaller and independent communities, as it would remove the need for seperate instances and, critically, the need to share data between those instances via authentication protocols (i.e. sharing user data when you login), webhooks or other data sharing methods.

This could reduce costs and administration, particularly for smaller communities looking to manage relatively contained or targeted content, or static pages, alongside their forum. It will never be a direct replacement for Wordpress or other CMS systems, however hopefully it can make certain use cases significantly easier.