Managing a WordPress site is tough work, and it’s made even more difficult when encountering frustrations on the backend.
And the reason why is simple:
The more your site grows, the more cluttered it can become.
But never fear. We’re going to go over a collection of plugins you can use to organize the WordPress admin area, your content, as well as your media library.
Specifically, we’ll be talking about how to organize the admin menu, top bar, pages, posts, taxonomies, and images.
Let’s get started.
Organizing the WordPress admin area
Automattic has done a lot to improve the WordPress admin area over the years, but there’s nothing stopping you from tweaking it to your liking.
Organizing the WordPress admin area can make it easier to find menu items in the admin panel and give you a sense of relief knowing the backend of your WordPress site is free of clutter.
Organizing the WordPress dashboard
Let’s start with an easy one and talk about the WordPress dashboard. For clarity, “WordPress admin” refers to the entire backend of WordPress while “WordPress dashboard” refers to the individual admin page labeled “Dashboard.”
This is a feature most of you are likely already familiar with.
Feel free to skip over it, if so. It has to do with the Screen Options that allow you to add or remove widgets from the WordPress dashboard.
WordPress has a few default dashboards, including At a Glance, WordPress Events and News, and Quick Draft. Some plugins come with dashboard widgets.
You’ll see them there as well.
You can drag and drop these widgets to rearrange them on your screen. You’ll have more or less columns depending on the size of the display you’re using or the size you have your browser set to. Take a look at the Screen Options button in the upper, right-hand corner.
Clicking this button opens the Screen Options menu, which allows you to add or remove some of the widgets on the dashboard.
This allows you to really clean things up, which is great given the fact that this is the screen you see when you first log into the backend of your WordPress site.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Organizing the WordPress admin panel
The WordPress admin panel, also referred to as the “admin menu,” is the menu on the left-hand side of the admin panel.
Themes and plugins will add items to this menu, creating more and more clutter as you add more and more tools to your WordPress installation. Aside from evaluating your plugin collection to see if there’s anything you can remove or deactivate, you can use a few plugins to organize this menu.
One of these plugins is Admin Menu Editor, which allows you to rearrange the items in the panel and even create your own submenus.
If you compare the screenshot below with the screenshot shown above, you can see I used this plugin to group my theme and plugin menu items together and arrange them in alphabetical order.
I can even remove the theme menu items I never use.
This plugin also has a pro version that allows you to “set per-role menu permissions, hide a menu from everyone except a specific user, export your admin menu, drag items between menu levels, make menus open in a new window and more.”
You can test out the demo here.
You can also use another plugin called Hierarchy to combine the menu items for Posts, custom post types, Media, and Pages into a single menu item called “Content.”
The end result is this:
When you click this menu item, you’re taken to a screen that combines your content into one location. This plugin is mainly intended to remove custom post types from the admin menu.
Organizing the top bar
The top bar is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the bar that runs across the very top of the WordPress admin. The one that displays even when you preview a post or page on the frontend of your site.
A plugin by the name of WP Admin UI Customize allows you to customize this bar if you feel it’s too cluttered, which can happen when you install plugins that place items on this bar.
When you install this plugin, you’ll have the option to customize the top bar, which it has labeled “admin bar.” This allowed me to remove the Easy Social Share Buttons and Yoast menu items from my top bar, but you can also use this plugin to add items.
This is a monster of a plugin that allows you to do much more than simply customize the top bar. It also allows you to customize the admin panel, login screen, and dashboard.
There’s one last plugin we’ll mention in this section, and that’s Adminimize.
This plugin allows you to deactivate specific admin menu, top bar, and dashboard items for different users. Not only does this allow you to organize your own WordPress admin area, it allows you to organize the admin area for other users of your site.
Let’s move onto other areas of WordPress.
Organizing WordPress content
Similar to the WordPress admin, WordPress has done a lot to clean up the pages that display your site’s posts, pages, categories, and tags. However, everyone creates content in different ways, and you need a way to organize your unique approach to content creation. That’s what this section is about.
Organizing WordPress pages
Let’s start with WordPress pages and with a plugin called Simple Page Ordering.
This plugin does exactly what its name implies, which is allow you to order your list of pages and custom post types through simple drag-and-drop maneuvers.
This allows you to organize your pages and custom post types in order of importance (or any other type of order you want) rather than the default alphabetized ordering built into WordPress. It doesn’t work with posts, however, so keep that in mind.
Some of you have intricate page structures, meaning you have several parent pages that have several child pages each.
It can be difficult to keep track of these page structures all in one place with the way the default page organization system in WordPress works, and that’s what the CMS Tree Page View plugin is for. This creates a separate submenu item called “Tree View” under the Pages admin menu item.
What you end up with is a smaller list of the pages on your site with your parent and child pages stored in drop-down “tree” menus.
You can view your child pages by clicking the arrow associated with each parent page.
You can also view details about each page when you hover over their titles.
Let’s move onto WordPress posts.
Organizing WordPress posts
Did you like the drag-and-drop feature Simple Page Ordering brought to your list of WordPress pages and wished it were available for posts as well?
Well, with Post Types Order, it is.
Similar to Simple Page Ordering, this plugin allows you to rearrange your WordPress posts in any order regardless of when they were published.
This can help you organize posts in order of importance, category or type. Similar to CMS Tree Page View, this plugin creates a separate page for itself so you can still have the default chronological posts viewer. This page is stored under a submenu item called “Re-Order.”
You can also organize longer forms of content into a series of posts using the Organize Series plugin.
This creates a new screen option in the WordPress post editor where you can add new series, select a series to attribute to your post, and select the number the post should be in the series (Part 1 of 10, Part 4 of 5, etc.).
This plugin creates another taxonomy (the others being categories and tags) on your site called “series.”
It also adds a Manage Series page that can be accessed as a submenu item under the Posts menu, and the page resembles the category and tag managers.
The last plugin we’ll mention is Admin Columns. This plugin allows you to add more columns to your list of pages, posts, custom post types, media items, comments, and users. This opens the backend of WordPress to a wide range of possibilities.
You can add columns that allow you to see featured images for posts, word counts, number of attachments, and more. You can even get technical. For example, a real estate website may want to display the price of each listing or even the square footage.
No matter which columns you choose to add to your lists, the end result looks something like this:
Here’s the editor for this plugin:
Let’s move onto taxonomies.
Organizing WordPress taxonomies
WordPress organizes your categories and tags in alphabetical order by default.
You can use a plugin called Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order to organize your categories in any order you want with a drag-and-drop interface.
Does the interface look familiar? It should as this plugin was developed by the same developer that made Post Types Order.
It even has a separate page for this editor called Taxonomy Order so you can still use the default category manager.
There’s also a plugin called Tag Groups you can use to organize tags. It allows you to organize or “group” a collection of tags under a single label.
For example, a sports website that has the tags “Cristiano Ronaldo,” “Lionel Messi,” “Marta,” “Tom Brady,” and “LeBron James” could group all of these tags under a label called “Players” or “Athletes.”
You can even use these groups to organize tag clouds on the frontend of your site.
Let’s move onto the last section.
Organizing the WordPress Media Library
Most of us tend to upload several images per post, not to mention all of the images we have scattered across our pages and custom post types. WordPress is a wonderful platform, but the media library could use a few major improvements in terms of organization.
The first organization plugin we’ll mention is Enhanced Media Library.
This plugin allows you to create categories in your media gallery so you can organize images and other media items by category. This gives you a new page called Media Categories, which you can find under the Media menu.
You’ll even find a new selection when you go to upload your next media item. This selection will allow you to choose the category(ies) you want to assign the media item to.
Most importantly, this allows you to filter your media library by category.
Let’s talk about a couple different plugins that allow you to do the same thing in different ways, and that’s organizing your media items into folders. Like I said, the default organization system for the WordPress media library is a bit of a mess. That’s something these plugins hope to solve.
The first one is a premium plugin available at CodeCanyon for $24, as of June 2017.
It’s called WordPress Real Media Library. It’s a simple plugin that allows you to organize your media items into folders using an aesthetically-pleasing layout.
There’s also WordPress Media Library Folders, which allows you to organize your files into folders, regenerate thumbnails and take advantage of an SEO feature that automatically adds titles and alt tags to images.
The last plugin we’ll mention for organizing media items is Media File Renamer, and this is meant to organize the file structure of your site a bit. This plugin is meant to be used for SEO purposes as much as it’s meant to be used for organizational purposes.
It automatically renames each media file to the title you assigned to each media item. This is great for those of you who tend to name your files something completely unrelated to what you planned to name its title, or keep your files named as a series of letters and numbers.
Pay attention to the term “automatic.” You’ll need to purchase the premium version if you want to rename your media files manually. Fortunately, pricing starts at $10/year.
Staying organized in WordPress can be difficult, but we hope this post taught you a few new, interesting, or simply different ways to keep the backend of your WordPress site a little more organized.
How you choose to stay organized is dependent on your workflow and content (or your client’s content).
Ultimately, tidying up the backend of WordPress should be about making things easier to find or do.
For example, creating media categories or organizing your media files into folders can make it a lot easier for you to find images at a later time should you want to edit, delete, or use them again. Furthermore, organizing the items in your admin menu can help you find what you’re looking for a lot quicker than before.
We’ve written about organization before on this blog. We covered the backend in this post, but if you want to learn how to organize the frontend of your site, check out How to Organize Your WordPress Website. If you want to dive deeper into the topic of tidying up the media library, read How to Organize Your WordPress Media Library.