Customizing the WP Admin for clients using ACF Pro

ACF Pro

At studio.bio, when building WordPress sites for our clients one of the services we offer is creating a customized WP Admin. Every client is different but often this entails creating custom edit screens for Pages and/or Posts, giving the client an Options page to add or update contact information or social links in their site’s footer, or custom messages on the Welcome screen.

All of these customizations are handled with the amazing Advanced Custom Fields Pro plugin. We use it on every site and to such an extent that it often supplants the default WordPress content fields for Pages and Posts. By creating fields tailored to the content they hold, this allows clients to focus on their content and rarely, if ever, have to enter any html.

Most clients are not coders, nor do they desire to be. Thus, anything you can do to make updating their site easier and without having to add html (often badly) is a win in our book.

To use ACF in this way means a bit more work as a developer: you have to customize the templates for each page or view. Yet, this gives you way more control over how data is displayed and where. Even if the data is entered in fields in the admin in a certain order, you can display it anywhere you want by moving the call for that data to a different location in your theme’s template. You can also grab data from any page or post or an Options page from anywhere in your theme. This is groundbreaking — you are no longer bound by the page or post the content is on — you can grab it from anywhere and display it anywhere. What’s more, you can display directly using ACF functions, call from a post ID, or use a custom WP_Query.

ACF Options Page: social links

Using ACF Pro Repeater fields for social links

Using the ACF Pro Repeater field is a super quick way to allow for content when you don’t know how many items there will be. A simple example is social links. Adding a Repeater field to an Options page for social links means if the client needs to add YouTube or LinkedIn at a later date, we can add the icon and link fields to a Repeater and those can be added at any time.

ACF Custom Options Page

A custom color picker using ACF Pro

There are some caveats, however. It’s easy to get too specific with your ACF fields which can result in a overly rigid implementation making it hard to change so make sure to keep in mind what the page or post might need to be in the future and allow for mixed content. Using the ACF Flexible Content fields can be useful in some of these situations.

This is just a short overview of what can be possible but with ACF Pro and your imagination, the sky is the limit! We’ll provide more detailed examples with code in future posts.

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