WordPress is a beautiful thing, but it’s nothing without its plugins.
One of our most-used plugins is Advanced Custom Fields. Take a look at why we love it and what it’s enabled us to do on client projects.
Advanced Custom Fields is a third-party WordPress plugin that gives you total control over your design and development. It extends the functionality of WordPress and enables you to build a truly custom site that considers your user journey, user experience and user intent in the design.
ACF — which offers more than 30 custom fields — simplifies the WordPress interface as well as the process for displaying information on your site. It currently has more than one million users.
As a web design agency working across multiple client projects, Advanced Custom Fields Pro Version is Integrity’s third-party plugin of choice.
From an admin perspective, Advanced Custom Fields gives you the flexibility you crave.
One of our most used and favorite ACF is the Flexible Content field. The flexible content field is a simple but powerful block editor used to create custom field groups catered to your unique content. By using Flexible Content, an admin can create a completely unique page layout by adding/removing or repeating blocks. Blocks can also be reordered using simple drag-and-drop functionality.
The Flexible Content field is the powerhouse of the ACF plugins, but there are several others that you should check out if you’re looking for ways to enhance your website design flexibility:
This repeatable field type can contain numerous subfields. Any type of ACF field can be used as a subfield within a repeater. This functionality is useful when creating forms where you’re collecting multiple points of information from a potential customer such as: name, phone number, email, best time to call, etc.
This field type gives the admin the option to choose specific posts, pages or custom post types to include within the section of the page. On your site this can be used to link relevant information quickly. This allows your users to do things like: filter available doctors by hospital location, or search for in-stock products by store location.
This field type allows the admin to choose one or more taxonomies/custom taxonomies that will return a list of posts within the selected category(ies). This is incredibly common on sites that sort products through multiple filters as well as blogs that categorize posts by subject matter.
Rather than having to force content into a predefined page template, ACF (in particular, the Flexible Content field) allows you to let the content drive the page design. Users can craft new and existing pages with unique layouts easily with ACF.
Because ACF is widely used across the WordPress community, it has extensive documentation to refer to. This library is full of resources from tutorials to code examples. Rather than Googling to find information you can go directly to the source and know that any recommendations are coming from experts who built the fields, or users who are testing the fields themselves.
From a technical standpoint, you can track custom fields and their settings within the code repository as opposed to a database. This means developers do not have to worry about creating fields across all of your various environments. They can be repopulated saving your developer time. If you’re a client paying a contractor by the hour, this can offer a significant cost savings.
Website builders — such as Elementor and Divi — have come a long way over the years and have greatly increased access to simple websites for the hobby user. However, you’re still limited in terms of what you can do with them and that can cause constant adjustments and “hack” fixes when you find your functionality is lacking. When you’re using a builder, you’re stuck with predefined settings making it difficult to expand the design based on your needs.
With Advanced Custom Fields, there is a sizable amount of options to choose from, and it’s much easier to meet your site’s functionality requirements. Fortunately, ACF also integrates with multiple website builders, extending their capabilities and making them more flexible and functional.
Understanding the value of flexible fields to web designers WordPress now includes the Gutenberg editor, which has blocks that function much more like the Flexible Content fields in ACF.
While it’s now possible for a user to build a custom page using WordPress blocks, ACF allows you to leverage even greater possibilities. By creating Gutenberg blocks from ACF fields, you can customize the blocks even further.
Our team has gotten deep into the use of Advanced Custom Fields for many client sites, for both new builds and redesigns.
Recently the Integrity web development team leveraged ACF for St. Louis’s top CPA and accounting firm, Anders. ACF allowed us to craft a completely unique, beautiful and branded site that’s also fully content manageable and flexible, giving site administrators the foundation they need to craft new pages.
In addition, our client America’s Farmers — which is part of the Bayer Fund — partnered with Integrity to rebuild their site so it could display and feature content related to its three grant programs. Each of these programs needed to have unique content, colors, images and data pulled from an external API. This content not only needed to be flexible, but it needed to be timely as well. Each program had different phases that needed to be scheduled so the content could change when it was time for one phase to end and another to begin.
Using the full power of ACF, we were able to accomplish the client's goals while also maintaining a clean and easy to use admin.
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