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Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) for WordPress: A Beginner's Guide to Custom Data

Customizing your WordPress website is essential to meet your unique needs. Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) for WordPress is a powerful plugin that can help you achieve it. ACF provides a user-friendly interface to streamline changes effectively. You can add structured data and additional information to posts and pages. 


In this guide, we'll explore Advanced Custom Fields from different aspects. Let's learn how to use ACF effectively for your website.


What Is Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)?


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

Advanced Custom Fields is a popular freemium plugin for WordPress websites to enhance the built-in custom fields functionality. While WordPress already includes the ability to add custom fields to your content, ACF brings more diversity providing a more intuitive and streamlined experience. 


With ACF, custom fields are extremely easy to create. You can assign them to your posts, pages, or custom post types. Custom fields allow users to store and display additional information about your content, and enable you to create highly customized templates and layouts.


For example, WooCommerce uses custom fields to display additional information about a product like:


  • Weight

  • Color

  • Price


If you have a WordPress event calendar plugin, you can display information about an event such as:


  • Start/end time

  • Price

  • Location


You can also create custom fields according to your unique information, which is what this entire post will assist you in understanding.


Why should you use Custom Fields?


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

You might be wondering why you even need to use custom fields in the first place. For instance, you're organizing an event and want to post about it on WordPress. Would you just put information in the regular text in the WordPress editor?


Well, you can do so, but custom fields provide a much better way to for a few reasons: 


Enhanced Content Organization: You can create custom field groups to organize related fields together with ACF. This makes managing and updating custom fields a lot easier for you. You can also assign field groups to specific post types or templates that allow you to control where and how the custom fields are displayed. 


Easier Input and Data Management: ACF provides a user-friendly interface to add and manage custom fields. No need to put information manually rather use date pickers, dropdown menus, checkboxes, and other input types. This does not just make things easier for you but also ensures consistency across your site. For example, for a date, just pick the date picker.


Seamless Integration with Plugins and Themes: ACF is highly extensible and integrates with other WordPress plugins and themes. Many plugins and themes provide compatibility and support for ACF which brings more diversity in functionality with custom fields. This opens up endless possibilities to enhance your website's features and capabilities.


Flexible Display Options: ACF provides a wide range of options to display the data stored in your custom fields. Output the field values directly in your theme files using simple template tags. You can also use ACF's built-in functions and shortcodes, and customize the display of your fields. You can create unique and dynamic layouts for your content using these flexible options.


Install and Activate the Plugin


You need to install and activate the Advanced Custom Fields plugin on your website to begin. Follow these steps to do so:


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

  1. Login to your website, and go to the dashboard of your WordPress website. 

  2. Navigate the “Plugin” tab, and click on the "Add New.”

  3. Search "Advanced Custom Fields” by typing in the search bar.

  4. Locate the ACF plugin in the results. Locate it and click "Install Now.”

  5. Once the plugin is installed on your website, activate it by clicking on the "Activate" button.


Create a Custom Field Group


You can create custom field groups once the plug has been activated. You can create and assign fields to any specific post type or template. If you want to create a custom field group, follow these simple steps:


  1. Find “Custom Fields.”

  2. Click on the tab “Add New” for a new field group.

  3. Give descriptive details of each field group.

  4. If you want to add a new field, click on the "Add Field" button.


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

  1. Configure each field.

  2. Follow the same process for all fields. 


Simply click on the "Publish" button once you have added all the fields.


The process to assign Custom Field Group


Creation of the custom field group is the prior process before assigning fields to post type or a template. We have created custom field groups before. Now, we'll assign them to a post type. This process also determines where the custom fields you can or need to display. Doing this, follow these steps:


  • Navigate "Custom Fields” while editing a post type or a template.


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

  • Select the custom field group you have just created from the drop-down menu.

  • Save all the changes made. 


How to Display the Custom Fields in Your Theme


You can display the custom fields in your theme files after assigning the custom field group to a post type or template. You'll have to use ACF's template tags or functions to do this. Here's an example of how you can display the custom fields in your theme. 


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

You only need to replace 'custom_field_name' with the name of your custom field.


Advanced Custom Fields Pro


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

Advanced Custom Fields Pro is a power punch of features if you have figured out everything in the free version. The free version is a helping hand before upgrading to pro so you know everything you need to know plus specific needs. 


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) for WordPress 'Pro’ comes with more advanced features that take website designing to a new level.  Things are a bit complex in this version. So jumping without using the free version can make things harder for you. You better master the free version and then upgrade to the pro version if needed. 


Advanced Custom Fields Free vs Pro


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

Advanced Custom Fields come in free and pro versions. The free version is completely fine for the most basic uses. The user gets access to all the field types as well as outlined time-saving and user-friendly features. 


The free version is all you need if you want to add some extra information about your content.


However, the pro version offers some pretty convenient features to help you use Advanced Custom Fields in different ways:


ACF blocks: You can display your fields as a block Gutenberg instead of a meta box. This is convenient if you're building a website for a client. By doing this, you can give way to input and visualize custom field data. 


Repeater fields: These fields allow users to repeat certain fields/groups of fields on a post-by-post basis. For instance, if you were adding information about a speaker to an event, you can use a repeater field to handle the situation where there’s more than one speaker.


Gallery field: Upload multiple images to a single field.


Flexible content field: This field helps users to create layouts from other fields. This is an extremely lightweight kind of page builder to customize field information. 


There are also some other distinct differences such as:


  • Options pages

  • Cologne fields feature

  • Relationship fields improvements

  • Some other small tweaks 


ACF Pro Price


Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

ACF Pro costs $49 yearly if you want to buy for a single website. For 10 websites, it costs $149 yearly. You can buy for $249 yearly for an unlimited number of websites. 


However, the free version is the best thing to start with. Anyone can have things to figure out that preferably call for the use of a free version. You can figure out what functionality you may specifically need.  Figure out those special requirements, and upgrade anytime you want. 


Final Thoughts


WordPress websites shine for their ease and unlimited facilities that every user likes to experience. Advanced Custom Fields are excellent resources for both website owners and developers to enhance their content management capabilities. They help to create highly customized websites. These websites offer a friendly interface, flexibility, and seamless integration to several plugins and themes for your WordPress website. 


Advanced Custom Fields may seem difficult to learn, but things are breezy with little guidance. Use these steps outlined in the guidance, and start your journey to design your website that entices users. 


If you still have any questions regarding ACF or any other plugin, don't hesitate to contact us.

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