How can I build a community? Does blogging make sense?

Running a blog (WordPress), a forum (phpBB, Simple Machines), a CMS (Drupal, Joomla) or a wiki (WikiMedia) on the website where you run your shopping cart is something many Zen Cart users find attractive.

The problem is, these software packages don’t maintain themselves. You need to keep them updated or you run the risk of being hacked. Even if you keep them updated, sometimes plugins are compromised by bad guys to enable sites to be hacked. This is not just a theoretical risk - companies like Securi get most of their business from WordPress installations that have been hacked.

So: you can do this, many people do this, but it has a cost and you’ll need to devote more energy to maintenance and updates if you want go down this path. Proceed with caution. This topic is discussed in more depth in installing additional software packages.

Most people who deploy blogs or other tools use deployment model 2.

What are some alternative options to running a blog with your Zen Cart installation?

Adding Content Pages to your Cart

The Zen Cart EZ-Pages system allows you to create content using a secure, controlled facility. This content can then be displayed on your site. You can even organize your pages into chapters and have a table of contents.

There are also other mechanisms for adding pages to your site.

Use News Box Manager

The News Box Manager plugin allows you to create new pages for your site.

Create and send a newsletter regularly

Creating and building an email list using a newsletter is a great way to develop a community.

Tools like MailChimp have inexpensive offerings for small businesses that allow you to stay in touch with your customers. You can even preserve your content in a campaign archive so customers who come along after you sent it can still see it.

Use a static site generator

Static Site Generators (SSGs) like Hugo and Jekyll allow you to build a sophisticated website using a tool, and output raw HTML which can run without a database or code interpretation. Since the final output of these tools is HTML-only, it is much less risky than WordPress (which has both PHP and MySQL as potential attack surfaces).

Create a blog offsite

Really committed to a blog, are you? Instead of self-hosting a WordPress blog, why not use and let them host it. There are, of course, other hosted blogging services like Blogger or Tumblr.

Consider community building software

For some businesses, building a community makes sense. Take a look at Wild Apricot or Mighty Networks or

Use the News Box Manager plugin

See News Box Manager.

Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified May 12, 2023 by Scott C Wilson (d3a5abd).