My Formula for Document Libraries

I mentioned that I could talk with anyone interested in setting up “filterable” document libraries. This is far from exhaustive, but I thought I would quickly write out the advice that I shared yesterday.

Caveat: This is about building a library natively in WordPress, not integrating an external database.

I rely mostly on three plugins to get me started:

  • Advanced Custom Fields (for creating the metadata associated with each document)
  • FacetWP (for creating the “filtering” interface known as “faceted navigation”)
  • SearchWP (for a much better search that includes metadata. It’s like Relevanssi but built to integrate with FacetWP)

Update (27 Jan 15): I am kicking myself hard after realizing a few days ago that the search “facets” created by FacetWP are completely inaccessible to screen readers and partially inaccessible to keyboard navigation. I’m in touch with the developer and pushing to get that fixed ASAP, but proceed with caution for now when using FacetWP.

My process goes something like this:

  1. Create a “content map” (or “content model”) document with the client to specify each field that makes up a resource.
  2. Build a “Resource” (or document or item) Custom Post Type. (Make sure to use a sweet Dashicon for the menu icon.)
  3. Add custom taxonomies as needed. If you want to use FacetWP, it’s likely you’re allowing people to filter by taxonomy. *
  4. Use ACF to add custom fields to the new post type.
  5. Have the client try entering a few resources (ideally a wide variety) to see how it goes.
  6. Adjust custom fields.
  7. Build templates to show individual Resources and Resource Library page with facets.*

* It’s easy to go a little overboard with taxonomies and terms. Aim for highly-constricted taxonomies with a clear scope of potential terms that will likely change little after launch.
** That’s a big step with more tech than I’m going into right now. It requires a good knowledge of theming.

Here’s an example of what I built. Two more are in the works right now. I’m happy to answer questions below and please add any other ideas or plugins you like to use for similar projects!


2 thoughts on “My Formula for Document Libraries

  1. Thanks so much Mark! I really appreciated our conversation yesterday – but to now have your process written out is fantastic. And thanks fr your example of what you’ve built – that’s pretty much what my client would want to have.

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