Managing WordPress Admin Menus

We frequently find ourselves doing freelance work for people that know very little about WordPress. This lack of know-how often found in clients can lead to disastrous consequences, throwing hours of hard work out of the window. Ask any freelancer with some experience and he will tell will that, at least once, a client clicked that little button that was not supposed to be clicked and everything in the project just broke down.

That being said, it’s important for us to guarantee that the client has no access to crucial parts of the admin interface to prevent this kind of disastrous events.

Plugins: the drawbacks

WordPress powers a large proportion of the internet for many years now. That made possible for it to grow an awesome community of developers that tried – and continue to do so – to solve a variety of use cases of the platform. For any feature you may need for your website, chances are that there’s a plugin that do exactly that.

While that is awesome for freelancers that can just install this plugins and save an enormous amount of  development time, it also generates a bloated mess in the admin menu.

Bloated Menus as a result of having many plugins installed.

Bloated Menus as a result of having many plugins installed.

That’s exactly where the danger lies: a bunch of menu items that the final user did not need to see are now exposed.

Hiding the menu items manually

To avoid this kind of problems we need to hide menu items that are not suitable to anyone else. WordPress, as expected, offers a programmatically way of doing that.

To remove a menu item them we can just use the function remove_menu_page. Just pass the slug of the menu as a parameter and voilà. For the default menu items, as a exemple, you need to do this:

remove_menu_page('edit.php');                // Posts
remove_menu_page('upload.php');              // Media
remove_menu_page('link-manager.php');        // Links
remove_menu_page('edit-comments.php');       // Comments
remove_menu_page('edit.php?post_type=page'); // Pages
remove_menu_page('plugins.php');             // Plugins
remove_menu_page('themes.php');              // Appearance
remove_menu_page('users.php');               // Users
remove_menu_page('tools.php');               // Tools
remove_menu_page('options-general.php');     // Settings

A better way: WP Admin Menu Manager

The manual way may work well for smaller projects and fewer pages, it gets complicated to do with a large number of installed plugins. It also gets hard to remove different menus for different user or roles as the code starts to get messy and with lots of if statements.

In this cases is much better to have a UI that allows you to hide, rename and reorder the menu items as you wish. It would also be nice to have the possibility of assign different menus for different user or user roles.

We had this issue more than once with freelance projects here at 732 and we soon realized that a tool capable of doing this things was a true necessity.

After some months of development then we came up with WordPress Admin Menu Manager.

With WP Admin Menu Manager you can do all that, using a very simple and intuitive UI.

You can get more information about WP Admin Menu Manager visiting the plugin’s website. Fell free to share you opinions and doubts in the comments section!

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Customizing the WordPress Admin Interface

Brief History

WordPress is allowing us to build awesome blogs, portals and websites since 2000, providing a feature-full web-admin interface that revolutionized the concept of CMS.

The design of its admin panel, however, was basically the same for the vast majority of this time, dividing the user base in two groups: those who absolutely love it and those who were desperate for significant changes.

WordPress Classic Admin Interface

WordPress Classic Admin Interface

MP6

After this long waiting time, the WordPress team started working in something to renew the old admin interface, in an attempt to bring the design language to a more modern one, including icon fonts and a flattened approach. This project – secretly available on the WordPress plugins directory – was called MP6, with an absolutely random description and cover photo, so only those really curious or that already knew what that was about would install it.

MP6 on the plugin directory.

MP6 on the plugin directory.

Later, this MP6 theme was included in the core of WordPress, in version 3.8, but since then, some of us already got a little tired of its design.

Introducing Ultimo WP theme

After many years developing innumerous projects using WordPress I soon realized that I could ship a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of almost anything using WordPress as a base in a matter of days, instead of having to spending months just to decide which programming language/framework would be a better fit to a specific project (We spoke about using WordPress as a MVP Framework in this post).

While it may seem a good idea, WordPress is a well-know platform and many of our clients already knew what its admin interface looked like. Because of that, It was also important that the final users of our products did not realize that they were inside a WordPress install, so we need to heavily personalize the admin interface, making it look as custom as possible.

To accomplish all that we’ve come up with Ultimo WP, a admin theme that makes customizing the WordPress admin interface really easy, with tons of options.

Using Ultimo WP you can customize the login screen, the width of the admin menu and admin bar and much more. We also provide 8 awesome color presets, based on the WordPress default ones, but you have the liberty to set the colors by yourself.

Ultimo WP is on WordPress.org, it’s free and you can get it here. Bellow are some screenshots of the final results after installation.

What do you think?

What do you think of Ultimo WP? What options would you like to see added to the project? Let us know in the comments bellow!

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3 Reasons to use WordPress as your Startup’s MVP Framework

The community is awesome

One of the greatest successes of WordPress was its ability to build a strong community around it.

Almost any question was already asked and answered in some corner of the web (probably hosted in some WordPress site) and there is awesome places where you can find them, such as stack overflow and Quora.

You can build your MVP without writing a line of code

This of course will depend on the level of complexity of your product, but it is entirely possible to build a MVP without having to write a single line of code.

The WordPress plugin directory has a uncountable number of WordPress plug-ins covering almost any possible thinkable feature. If you need something more specific, you can always search in the various plugins and themes marketplaces, such as CodeCanyon and ThemeForest and spending only a few bucks you can get your idea of the paper.

People have done it already, and they’ve succeeded.

I totally understand how this can sound a little bit weird, to use a CMS such as WordPress as a development framework, but you would not be the first one to try it, and we have some awesome use-cases to prove how possible and useful it can be to do that.

Hello Bar

One of the firsts to take proud of using this approach was the awesome people behind Hello Bar – a simple SaaS that allowed users to add a Call to Action bar to the top of their pages, increasing conversion rates. We could list their motives here but we prefer to let them do the convincing:

Happy Tables and Restaurant Engine

These two startups with similar propositions also took their first MVP out to the market using WordPress as a framework of development. It’s very easy to see why WP is a perfect fit for startups like these:

1. They need to support multiple accounts managing and customizing their own “website” – something that can be easily achieved using a WordPress Multi-site installation;

2. The service they provide is based on different types of user inputs (like menu options and so on). That can be achieved with little effort using WordPress native custom post type functionality.

Note: The founder of Happy Tables gave an interest interview to the Product People Podcast detailing the whole process of choosing and developing the product using WordPress as a base. You can listen to that here and here.

Conclusion

It’s important to note that, while WordPress may note be a good fit to all possible scenarios, it’s a good alternative to rapidly test a product to validate an idea and gather feedback from the final users, saving tons of money and time when we put it side-by-side with starting a project from scratch.

Do you also think that WordPress is a viable alternative to a MVP? Your project or the project of someone you know use WordPress as a framework? Let us know in the comments bellow and don´t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!