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Wordpress CMS LogoThe Mukurtu CMS is the gold-standard digital archiving platform for indigenous communities across the world. This is because it is purpose-built for the preservation of cultural heritage in our digital era. Prime examples include the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal and the Sustainable Heritage Network.

Not all digital archiving teams have the luxury of starting their projects from scratch, however. You may have started a website dedicated to cultural or tribal heritage on another platform, say WordPress, and now you want to know the best approach to customizing your existing platform for your highly specific needs. This article is for you.

We will explore 3 custom-built plugins for archives and communities looking to save and share cultural artifacts online. Many archives are operated by small communities or non-profits and so we’ve made sure all of the plugins featured below are free to use in consideration of these budgetary constraints.

Timeline Express

Timeline Express can be used to turn entire pages of your site into responsive vertical timelines. This is extremely useful for archives that want to organize cultural artifacts in a user-friendly manner. Categories and tags in WordPress are an excellent way of creating a sense of orderliness in your archive but they have several obvious limitations.

Many archives chart a long and storied history of a particular community and a sense of perspective is integral in order to fully understand the social and cultural context of artifacts. People have become accustomed to timelines through their social media usage but there are more important reasons to adopt a timeline on your WordPress site. Your posts may be extremely well thought out but they will always be better understood when placed in the context of the passage of time.

Timeline Express makes the process of building out timelines extremely easy and they can be inserted into any page via a simple shortcode. Here’s an example of a WordPress vertical timeline:

Schema

Getting familiar with Schema is easily one of the most forward-thinking steps you can take in maximizing the value of the archived content you store online. Schema ‘structured data’ is an effort on the part of all the major search engines to enhance the way in which their systems understand and interpret material on your website.

Most importantly, using Schema markup helps people browsing the web to find the most informative possible results among your various materials. Search engines can read this markup and include it in their search results pages to deliver meaningful information to the searcher before they even click through to your site.

Here are some examples:

  • If you want to maximize the exposure of your website’s contact details you can use Schema to markup your company’s contact numbers or social media profiles.
  • You can use the markup to designate the person or author responsible for each piece of cultural multimedia on your website and this name may be displayed by Google in their results.
  • Creative works can be marked up according to type. For instance, video, audio, scholarly articles, reports, and more, can be defined as such to help the search engines interpret and display material accordingly.

We have only touched the surface of the possibilities of Schema for your digital archive, but you can utilize this guide to discover and implement a full range of markup.

BuddyPress

BuddyPress is an essential add-on to WordPress for any website or digital archive that is seeking to create an engaging social experience for interaction between members of an indigenous community. Of course, depending on your strategic goals, you can also widen your platform for interaction between collaborators, learners, stakeholders, and other members of the internet ecosystem.

This plugin is owned and operated by the same company that develops WordPress itself so its reliability and quality are of the highest standard.

Many features are reminiscent of those offered by leading social media companies. With BuddyPress members of your community can send private messages, establish ‘friendships’, form groups, and create profiles. They’ll also be able to contribute materials and artifacts of their own, making the process creating your archive a truly collaborative mission.

However, perhaps the greatest thing about BuddyPress is the thousands of additional add-ons that further extend the functions and capabilities of the plugin. Some of our favorites include Registration Options, which allows you to fully customize who is able to see and interact with content, and Paid Memberships Pro, which gives you the opportunity to raise funds for your project by charging for customizable tiers of membership.

Registration Options is a brilliant way to restrict spam and to keep out unapproved members. This plugin is an indispensable means of providing protection and control in cases where the privacy of your community is of particular importance.

Conclusion

We hope these WordPress plugins have sparked plenty of ideas in your mind for your digital archive. Although WordPress is not a purpose-built solution for digital archiving per se, its extensive ecosystem of plugins and developers make it endlessly flexible.

For instance, you can add community and collaborative based features to your site with BuddyPress. Meanwhile, the timeline plugin is a great way to add context and depth to the presentation of your vital materials.

Of course, there are many more free plugins beyond those featured here that may help fulfill your goals for your site. Get searching to find the best ones for you!

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