I’ve been using the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin for a few years now and I can’t imagine building a website without it. It allows you to take full control of the WordPress admin so that it’s much more intuitive to manage your site’s content. Instead of one big editor, as if you’re writing a long blog post, ACF adds smaller form fields (text, textarea, radio buttons, checkboxes, etc.) that more closely match smaller sections of content. My clients have really enjoyed the simplicity of maintaining their own site as well. Plus, when it’s been a few months, or longer, since I last updated a website, it’s nice to be able to immediately understand how to edit the content. There’s a “pro” version of the plugin with additional features, including repeatable fields, media galleries, and more.
I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins over the past week or so (in between big website projects). So far I’ve completed 7 simple but useful plugins! I’m by no means an expert software engineer, but I’m really pleased with the results after a relatively short amount of time. Plugins make repetitive content management tasks a whole lot easier and they’re not theme dependent (you can switch themes and they’ll stay in place). I’ll do some proper write-ups on a few of the plugins soon, but here’s a preview of what I’ve developed so far.
Note: For now, these plugins are just intended for my learning purposes, so I’m not releasing them to the general public. Plus, they mainly satisfy development needs that are specific to my website projects, so I don’t know how useful they’d be for other developers. Perhaps in the future I’ll develop some plugins to be included in the WordPress plugin repository.
If you have multiple authors on one WordPress blog, you can create accounts for each of those authors and add some biographical information in their user settings. However, not all authors prefer to provide personal info to the public. This plugin creates a simple shortcode that you can manually include on individual blog posts that includes the author’s bio and photo, as well as icon links to their social media accounts.
After installing a fresh copy of WordPress, you’re presented with a default WordPress-branded welcome panel at the top of the admin dashboard. I’ve recently learned that you can replace that panel with a version of your own. In my case, I’ve always wanted to give my clients a more useful panel that will encourage them to reach out to me if they run into problems while maintaining their site’s content.
This plugin is very easy to configure. Update the plugin’s HTML and CSS to match your brand’s logo, colors, and messaging. Upload your logo image to the WordPress Media Library and include the URL in the plugin’s anchor link. When I’m doing freelance work for other agencies, I can customize the welcome panel to match their branding and colors.
I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins lately. I have studied this topic before, but decided to really dive deep and create one for my own use. The first plugin I made allows you to easily customize the WordPress login screen, including logo, background, and form colors. It has a settings page (under the Settings menu in the WordPress admin) and you fill out a few fields in a short form. Here are some screenshots of what it looks like in action. I still have a lot to learn about plugin development, but I’m really looking forward to developing a few more simple plugins. I’ve got some ideas that I think could work.
I’ve been steadily going through the WordPress: Plugin Development training course by Jeff Starr on LinkedIn Learning. I’m really impressed with the quality of instruction in this entire set of videos. I’ve learned a lot and it’s really helped me fully understand how to plan, design, develop, and publish a complete WordPress plugin. If you’ve wanted to dig down deep in the subject, I’d recommend taking a look. There are a couple free introductory videos, as well as a course outline, that will give you a good idea of what the course is all about.