More Fields WordPress Plugin
June 15, 2010
Although WordPress is a CMS, it’s administrative panel was clearly designed to favor it as a personal blogging solution. You really have to know what you are doing to use the WordPress dashboard to manage a website versus a blog. This does not make WordPress as an ideal solution to pass off a website to a site owner to manage and create their own content.
This was a situation I was faced with last fall. One of the objectives of the project was that the solution would enable the client to manage their own content. Their current site was completely static and they had been dependent on someone who could edit HTML code. They no longer had anyone on their team with those skills and their site had become stagnant.
Because I was familiar with WordPress and the price (free, open-source) was right for this non-profit ministry, I wanted to use WordPress as the CMS solution. But I needed to be able to tweak the default WordPress dashboard to provide a better user experience for the client.
As I searched for CMS plugins, I came across More Fields after reading a post on Kevin Leary’s site. I installed it and began to use it. I really like how it customized the WordPress Admin section for managing page content. I gave me just the functionality I needed. It was just the right solution to give a more usable interface for my client to manage and create their own content. I created a customized homepage that allowed them to post information about different conferences and leadership projects that they sponsor. I created a PDF guide that helped the client to take the site and manage/add new content.
What I liked about More Fields
- It used the existing custom fields functionality of WordPress. I did not have to make changes to my code in my WordPress template in order to use the plugin.
- It added boxes to the page or post editing pages. I was able to put in descriptions and instructions to help my client manage their secondary content.
- It allowed me to customize the page and post editing pages. I had many options of what to show and what to hide.
- It was fairly easy and intuitive to implement right away. I was able to create new boxes and new fields without having to read a bunch of documentation.
But no solution is perfect and there were several quirks in More Fields that did not set well with me. So I was a bit reticent about using it on a recent project.
Here were some of my concerns. Most of these were quirks that were annoying but still functional.
- The plugin had not been updated in quite awhile. This was my greatest concern. The plugin needed a bit more work and I was not sure that its creator was planning to do anything more with it. If that was the case, the quirks I experienced were not going to get fixed.
- The plugin allowed you to hide certain panels when editing pages. Soon after a WordPress upgrade, that functionality broke and several of the panels I wanted to hide were visible once again.
- When adding new fields, after saving changes to the new field, I went to a blank screen. I had expected and wanted to return to the manage boxes page to add more fields or edit current ones.
- The customized panel seemed to create conflicts with the AJAX functionality that allows you to reorder panels and hide/show certain panels on an Edit Page.
- The plugin added the custom page types to the left hand menu of the administrative interface. It created a main nav item with the name of the custom field type and two sub items of “edit” and “add new.” If you clicked on the name of the custom page type on that menu, it would not take you to the edit pages listing but would function like “add new.” This was different than the other main headings on the left menu.
Recently, I had another project that needed some customization to make it a better experience for the site owner. Because of my concerns about More Fields, I decided to try another plugin. Unfortunately, this plugin had some major issues and the developer was not attending to it.
Then I came across another post by Kevin Leary about new development to the More Fields plugin. I was delighted and excited to check it out. The new version of the plugin addressed all of my concerns. It did not disappoint me. I plan to use it in future projects and would not have any problem in recommending it to others.
Thanks Kal and Henrik for improving More Fields.