Most of us are either bloggers, or work with content production/management in some way shape or form. We use WordPress as our CMS of choice because it is intuitive, powerful, reliable, and extendable.
However, WordPress is certainly not perfect. That’s why new plugins are developed on a daily basis, and new updates are released every few months. There will always be ways in which WordPress can be improved.
One of the areas in which WordPress has been heavily criticized in the past is its editorial functionality (or lack thereof). For a blogging platform, it is is rather surprising that it does not come pre-packaged with a means to effectively manage content. After all, as bloggers, that is one of our primary concerns! Fortunately, the WordPress community responded to the call for better editorial control, and produced a solution.
And that is what we’re looking at today.
Enter Edit Flow
On the WordPress.org plugins repository, Edit Flow is simply described as a plugin that can “redefine your editorial workflow”. Whilst that description is apt, it perhaps doesn’t fully reveal the capabilities of this remarkable (and free) tool.
Put simply, Edit Flow is a plugin that I recommend to each and every one of my clients, without fail. If you are blogging, you should at the very least consider it.
Today I want to take you through some of the basic functionality of Edit Flow, in order to demonstrate how it can change the way you manage your blog.
Modules – Take Your Pick
Edit Flow has been designed for huge multi-writer blogs, and whilst it is certainly promoted with that kind of user in mind, I consider it a must-have for any blogger.
The plugin is designed in such a way that you can pick and choose from the features you will use:
Although the sheer scale of functionality can be somewhat overwhelming at first, you can turn off any module that is not of interest to you. Having said that, the module that everyone will use is the Calendar, so let’s take a look at that first.
Edit Flow’s calendar essentially lays out your entire content schedule for a six week period:
Published posts are in gray, and unpublished posts are in blue. You are able to view and edit all posts.
You are also able to dynamically move unpublished posts by clicking and dragging. For instance, if I had decided that this Edit Flow article should be published on Thursday rather than Tuesday, I would just click on the post and drag it across to that date:
Basically, Edit Flow’s calendar module gives you a top-down view of the most important part of your blog – the content. Any experienced blogger understands the importance of a content strategy, and Edit Flow allows you to easily plot out your posts for future weeks.
Editorial Meta Data
Most people put at least a little bit of preparatory work into their blog posts. They may have some brief notes, perhaps some links to related articles, and so on. Where to store this information is a question not answered by WordPress by default. Edit Flow addresses the issue by giving you the ability to add what the developers call “editorial meta data”.
If you have this module activated, your post screen will have an extra box:
It comes with a few standard fields, but you can add as many extra fields as you would like to suit your workflow. Although this feature is highly useful for an editor in making clear what is required in any particular article, it is also useful for a writer as a place to store all the relevant preparatory information relating to a post.
Scratching the Surface
Today I’ve covered in detail two of the eight modules that come packaged with Edit Flow, but there is much more to this plugin:
- Custom statuses – pitch ideas, mark articles as in need of editing, and so on.
- Editorial comments – exchange ideas regarding a particular post in the most logical place – the post screen.
- Notifications – keep relevant people in the loop when changes are made to a post.
- Story budget – a more traditional alternative to the calendar.
- User groups – sort people into logical groups so that you send notifications to only the relevant people.
There is a reason why Edit Flow has a 4.9 star rating on the WordPress.org plugins repository. Not only that, it is in active development and is well supported (at the time of writing, 9/10 support threads in the last five weeks had been resolved).
And yet, it has less than 30,000 downloads, which comes as some surprise. I have played around with a few different plugins of this ilk over the past several months, but in my opinion, Edit Flow stands head and shoulders above the rest. With the developmental prowess of Automattic behind it, this is the solution for better editorial management in WordPress.