I have a client who has a monthly magazine that is supported by advertisers. Usually, the layout is pretty predictable; content on the left, ads on the right. However, over the past few months, she has been doing 2 magazines a month with one being a “special” edition. The special edition has different advertisers which means that I can’t cross her regular magazine advertisers with her special edition advertisers.
I could handle this easily by customizing sidebar content but over time, the side bar area will be long. Instead, I wanted another solution to handle this without manipulating php code to make it happen.
And for this, I chose WordPress Toolset.
What does WP-Toolset do?
Basically, it allows you to refine the look of your wordpress website by literally rewriting the php for you. This allows you to do things like create a magazine layout, build robust filters (think real-estate search with radio buttons to select parameters) and create templates that you can then add content to.
To work this, you create a “view”, which is basically a “block” that you can add to your pages. Each view can be styled so that it looks exactly how you want it to look.
You can add these at will in your post and page editor via shortcodes….
This is pretty cool but it gets more interesting when you take multiple views and turn them into a “view template”. A template in WP-Toolset is nothing more than a collection of views mixed with other things like types. Here is an example of a template for one of her special editions….
The types fields are basically pre-determined places that she can place a picture in (should she want to). For her articles, she has a field type that allows her to place the article picture (without having to insert it directly into the WYSIWYG editor. This space is predetermined size and placement wise. The bottom of the code has another place where the author’s bio will go into, which has a separate WYSIWYG editor.
And the code inbetween it all allows everything else to happen with a little CSS styling to boot. The “ads” go to the right of the content and the “single post views” creates the php that pulls in the content for that particular article post.
And selecting the template is as easy as selecting it in your WYSIWYG editor.
There are a couple caveats here to think about before you go out and decide that Toolset is for you. First, you have to be comfortable with CSS (and if you aren’t, you can click here for a primer.) Toolset simply allows you to call up different sections onto the page. You still need to style the content to make it look good.
Secondly, there is a slight learning curve here. The good news is that the guys over at Toolset have a ton of videos that will help you maneuver through the various scenarios that are most common with webmasters.
I’m only scratching the surface here for the things this plug-in can do. You can actually do a lot more with it and even play around with things on a demo site before you commit.
Or you can simply go to the website & check out WP-toolset for yourself.