The wonders of using the Advanced Custom Fields WordPress plugin. - AREDCREATIVE

The wonders of using the Advanced Custom Fields WordPress plugin.

When we first got into website development, the thought was everything was custom-coded completely from scratch. As a beginner thinking something like that can be very daunting and give the impression of “How will I ever be able to code all this from scratch?”

The truth is, much of web development is the re-use of various components to complete your desired design. It actually came as quite a shock when you find out wait, “you didn’t code that from scratch?”. Your whole existence is based upon it but it’s almost like a secret that you’ll only figure out once you’re a part of the club. Barely anybody codes from scratch unless it is necessary.

Now this may seem counter to being a developer in a sense as we tend to enjoy building things from scratch and showing off how well we can code but It’s just more economical to not code from scratch.

Many of our favorite platforms or websites we visit, as they are custom coded, much of the platform is built using an array of various libraries of components, elements, or scripts all integrated together.

In the case of WordPress, the possibilities are endless when It comes to what you want to build but it’s not as easy as you’d think right out of the box. Since we build custom themes for our client’s websites, in order to speed up the development process when it comes to developing features we look towards the trusted Advanced Custom Fields Plugin.

This plugin allows us the ability to create custom fields to show on either your front-end or back-end without having to code WordPress functions from scratch to add them.

Applying the custom fields helps enhance and simplify the content management process. Since WordPress was built originally as a blogging platform we often have to tweak a few features as a majority of our clients don’t use their website for blogging.

Common custom fields we’ll create for clients are:

  1. General Settings page
  2. Extra Ecommerce Product data

One of the most extensive uses to date of us using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin was for a business directory website called the Black Book Directory. On the website Business’s and Business owners were able to list themselves by filling out a form. On the backend we for management, each listing had its own page that was editable by the admin.

Advanced Custom fields plugin creating a Repeater Field

This type of page is something that can’t be done out of the box with WordPress and would require some custom coding. As to stay within the client budget the choice to use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin was the best option. Also in the long run using a plugin that receives consistent updates as opposed to hard code ensures the security of your website and avoids any possible changes that your developer may need to make to the core functions after a major security update.

Another instance that we’ve found a good use for it is with developing e-commerce websites. These types of websites have all sorts of cool features like Instagram feeds, snazzy popups, or rotating store banner notices. Too often people think you need a different plugin for each of these features but truly all of this can be achieved without having to use 20 different plugins that essentially will slow down your website if it’s not optimized correctly. For us, this is why we love to use Advanced Custom Fields, not only because It simplifies the amount of coding you have to do but it also helps us give our clients the tools to feel confident in managing day-to-day tasks without feeling overwhelmed.

Our favorite field to use from the plugin is without a doubt the Repeater Field. If you have your idea planned out correctly this custom field allows you to accomplish so much so fast it’s incredible.

Per the description on their website:

“The Repeater field provides a neat solution for repeating content – think slides, team members, CTA tiles and alike.

This field type acts as a parent to a set of sub fields which can be repeated again and again. What makes this field type so special is its versatility. Any kind of field can be used within a Repeater, and there are no limits to the number of repeats either (👨‍💻 unless defined in the field settings).”

If you use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, how does it help you build your WordPress websites?

Article by:
    Adrian Redmond
  • Front End Web Developer
Web Hosting Canada