How to Make WordPress Easier for Your Clients

For those readers who aren't sure exactly what WordPress is and what it does, here is a brief rundown: WordPress is a free, open-source PHP and MySQL-based content management system that is used mainly as a blogging tool. It is feature-rich and highly customizable, which is why we are beginning to see it used in a greater variety of web atmospheres. In fact, WordPress is currently the most widely used CMS on the internet, managing more than half of all websites.

How to Make WordPress Easier for Your Clients

How to Make WordPress Easier for Your Clients

Most people have heard of WordPress, even if they haven't used it. However, many users still don't know how to unleash its full potential. It is up to developers and designers to make the sites they build more streamlined and user-friendly at the back-end, so their clients can easily manage and customize them on theirs.

Through better customization and utilization of multi-user functioning, plug-ins, and other features that are easy for your client to work with, you can put all of the potential of WordPress at their disposal and help to provide a more enriched and meaningful experience for the user.

Quick Customizations at the Start

There are 3 things you can do right off the bat to customize your client's WordPress dashboard using the WordPress functions.php file. These are simple customizations that say to the client "This is your domain."

  • Remove the WordPress logo and signature.
  • Get rid of unnecessary dashboard segments.
  • Install plug-ins that accentuate purpose and enhance efficiency and security.

Removing and Replacing the Logo and Footer Signature

There are several ways to do this. There are plug-ins that will allow you to customize the login screen. These are listed in another section. You can also use the very powerful .php functions utilized by WordPress to alter this content yourself.

Customize Login

This procedure will get rid of the WordPress logo at the login screen. Then you can replace it with your own logo or that of your client.

First create or open the functions.php file. Ideally, it should be stored in the themes folder. Then add these commands to the file:

// CUSTOM ADMIN LOGIN HEADER LOGO

function my_custom_login_logo() {
    echo '';
}
add_action('login_head', 'my_custom_login_logo');

Make sure to alter the images/logo_admin.png function for each client according to the placement of their brand or logo, and leave enough space to keep the logo separated from the warning message.

The same functions file can be used change the link and alt text that is linked by clicking the logo. Use add_action for large tasks and add_filter to change text.

// CUSTOM ADMIN LOGIN LOGO LINK

function change_wp_login_url() {
    echo bloginfo('url'); // OR ECHO YOUR OWN URL
} 
add_filter('login_headerurl', 'change_wp_login_url');

// CUSTOM ADMIN LOGIN LOGO & ALT TEXT

function change_wp_login_title() {
    echo get_option('blogname'); // OR ECHO YOUR OWN ALT TEXT
} 
add_filter('login_headertitle', 'change_wp_login_title');

Tweaking the Dashboard

The default settings on the WordPress dashboard contain a lot of unnecessary information that your client probably doesn't need in order to administer their site. The point of designing a streamlined and efficient dashboard for your client is to remove the clutter and leave only those features which are necessary to enhance functioning and manage content.

This is done by using wp_dashboard_setup(). Copy and paste this code into your functions.php file to remove any to customize your client's dashboard:

// REMOVE META BOXES FROM WORDPRESS DASHBOARD FOR ALL USERS

function example_remove_dashboard_widgets() { 
    // Globalize the metaboxes array, this holds all the widgets for wp-admin global
    $wp_meta_boxes; 
    unset($wp_meta_boxes['dashboard']['side']['core']['dashboard_primary']); 
    unset($wp_meta_boxes['dashboard']['side']['core']['dashboard_secondary']); 
    unset($wp_meta_boxes['dashboard']['normal']['core']['dashboard_plugins']);
}

add_action('wp_dashboard_setup','example_remove_dashboard_widgets');

You can use these same commands to add or remove any dashboard feature.

Installing Plug-ins

There are some useful plug-ins you can install that allow your client to easily modify the content and appearance of their site. They make it possible for even a beginner to customize almost every aspect of WordPress; effortlessly and without having to write code and without affecting core WordPress functions. These are some of the most helpful.

  1. Delete Revision - Revisions can cause an unnecessary backlog of amended files. This plug-in allows the client to perform multiple deletions of redundant material to free up space and increase the speed and efficiency of their blog or site.
  2. WordPress Importer - Allows the client to import custom fields and post types; comments; authors; and tags, categories, and terms from custom taxonomies.
  3. Velevet Blues Update URLs - Moving to another server creates the issue of obsolete URLs that misdirect users to a non-existent domain and broken or obsolete links. Velvet Blues Update can be configured to update embedded links and links to custom fields or attachments.
  4. More Fields - This plugin was meant to work in conjunction with the More Types and More Taxonomies plugins, though it can also stand alone. These plugins allow the site administrator to customize fields, data types, and taxonomies to better reflect content, and gives them enhanced editing capabilities. Music, arts, or business and other types of web sites and blogs will now have more flexibility on data input and how it is managed, even in multiple layers. This also provides a more relevant experience for the user.

Configuring your Client's WordPress to Turn it into a CMS

One of the great benefits of WordPress 3.0 and subsequent versions is the ability to allow multi-user capabilities. Clients can simultaneously manage multiple blogs from one centralized dashboard.

There are a number of plugins that help you change your client's WordPress from just another blog site into a fully functioning, feature-filled and dynamic CMS. These plugins allow you to enhance multi-user capabilities, create custom admin themes, and change WordPress into a non-WordPress CMS without changing the core. This will make it much easier for your client to manage their domain when you turn it over to them.

White Labels
White Labels

White Labels is an all-in-one plugin that allows the administrator to:

  • customize the admin login screen.
  • remove navigation menus.
  • remove dashboard panels.
  • make menus available to editors.
  • customize the dashboard panel and logos.
  • work with multiple WordPress sites from one dashboard.
  • allows support for child themes.

Custom Press
Custom Press

This is a great CMS WordPress plugin for large, evolving databases, like real estate listings, ebooks, and movie databases. It allows full customization according to list type, and many more features, including the ability to:

  • create custom taxonomies and assign them to post types.
  • make custom labels for all post types and taxonomies.
  • create custom fields for each post type, such as text boxes, check boxes, radio buttons.
  • auto generate embed codes.
  • create a custom icon menu.
  • choose which features are supported on your admin interface.

Members
Members

This is a plugin that allows your client to have precise control over how users interact with their site. It features a component-driven selection page that lets you choose which features your client needs, and leave the rest. Some of the key functions allow the administrator to:

  • edit user capabilities.
  • create new roles as needed.
  • add a meta box to define user permissions on your page editor to restrict content to predefined roles.
  • add widgets for login form and user-listings.
  • create restrict/allow access short code.
  • create template tags.

Snapshot
Snapshot

Snapshot is a plugin that does just what it says; it takes a 'snapshot' of any elements that you choose from your WordPress site for instantaneous back-up and restore functionality.

This includes databases, themes, or other plugins. This is achieved by listing all elements that you have chosen to keep a Snap Shot record in a table. Each element has a check box for deletion or a button to restore the element.

All of your WordPress features are listed in a table. Simply check those you would like back ups for, and they are moved to the table.

WordPress WHMCS Integration
WordPress WHMCS Integration

This plugin allows your client to seamlessly integrate their client management system with their WordPress site. This offers your client the ability to:

  • perform all client-management functions- billing, support, and client management.
  • receive support tickets directly to their WordPress.
  • compact widgets to place the necessary features where they are most needed.

Tips and Shortcuts

We've found some extra tips and tricks that you can use and share with clients to make their experience with using and maintaining their WordPress even easier.

  1. If you need to come up with a theme, Google "my idea WordPress themes," It will give you links to literally thousands of WordPress theme plugins and ideas.
  2. A plugin called "Bulk post creator" installed in the WordPress post dashboard will pre-load as many post drafts as you need for future use.
  3. Omit h1 and h2 title tags and post tags if you are using an SEO presser plugin.
  4. Adding short code to the BM Shots plugin will automatically create screen shots from the websites.
  5. Make sure to add the full URL to the SWF file to avoid problems with flash files.

Conclusion

Your clients can't take full advantage of WordPress' 'out-of-the-box' features unless you show them what's in the box. This can be achieved by removing unnecessary and confusing options, and installing new features that allow your client to have full control over content management and manipulation.

It is also incumbent upon you, the designer, to teach your clients how to properly use these options and features in plain, simple to understand directives. This can be achieved through the use of video tutorials or a customized user manual.

The benefit for you is less hand-holding and more time for development and building your client base. This also means more confident and self-sufficient - therefore, satisfied - clients.

Wouldn't you like to be able to hand your client their WordPress knowing that it is the leanest, most efficient, client-friendly WordPress site that you could deliver? It is possible, if you get to know your client up front, and streamline and customize their WordPress to their specific needs.

You have tremendous tools and resources at your disposal. It is well worth the time and effort it takes to use them in order to ensure up front that you are giving your clients the most manageable WordPress site around.