This is the second part of a series of posts on essential WordPress plugins.
We’ve covered the front-end, interactive feature plugins you absolutely must install when you start building a new WordPress website. Next, we’ll cover the admin area plugins, which affect the main development of a website, or which make the editing experience faster and easier.
Advanced Custom Fields
This is, by far, my favourite plugin of all time. If a website needs any custom data set for a page or post, Advanced Custom Fields is the right tool for the job. You can create a range of fields, from plain text to select boxes containing a range of posts. Using fields in the template code is very easy, and the documentation is clear and substantial.
Sure, you could just use the custom fields built into WordPress, but they’re ugly, unclear, and can be very limiting. ACF lets you create tabs, messages, rules for showing the custom fields, and so much more.
ACF also has a selection of add-ons, which I can highly recommend. The Gallery add-on makes adding image galleries to post easy (and avoids you having to use an additional plugin to handle this), while the Options plugin will help you set up a settings page for anything you’d like to make configurable on your website. It’s a great way of quickly putting together a Theme Options page, without having to do the time-consuming development work involved.
Custom Post Type UI
Using custom posts lets you add a whole new posts section with your custom post type, named what you like. Your new custom posts can be shown in an automatic archive, can be styled differently to standard posts or pages, and can use their own set of custom fields. CPT UI makes creating and managing custom post types a breeze.
Note: The recent UI overhaul has made this plugin much less user-friendly, so you might want to try Types instead.
Most commercial WordPress-based websites don’t need comments. Turn them off in a flash with Disable Comments, across the whole site, or just for certain post types.
Shortcodes in Sidebar Widgets
Similar to the plugin above, this one adds functionality into WordPress that you would think would be available from the start. As the name states, this plugin allows you to use shortcodes in widget areas. Even if you don’t use it right away, it’s a good idea to have this installed and activated to avoid confusion and frustration later!
A simple plugin that lets you add classes to widget areas. There are a few other similar plugins, but this one just creates a blank text field with no extra bits cluttering up the interface. In my opinion, this is the most essential plugin you’ll come across if your themes tend to be widget-based, as you can target and group widgets by class, rather than relying on IDs like #text-3.
Admin Menu Editor
Change the admin menus. A seemingly basic plugin that can actually do quite a lot, this one’s indispensable on larger sites that have loads of plugins installed.