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Why does anyone really choose to use a Content Management System? There are a lot of reasons, of course. For my clients, they all want the empowerment that comes from updating their site all by themselves. I get that. We all do.

The wise Uncle Ben once said: “With great power, comes great responsibility…” If you develop a fair number of WordPress sites (or other CMS sites) you’ve likely come across the following issues:

  • My client keeps calling because they are freaking out over all these updates and what to do about them!
  • My client broke their website by installing an incompatible plugin.
  • My client did something that caused me a head ache and lost time.
  • I could keep going, but I’m not going to, you get the drift. Right?

The problem is finding the right balance is really giving your client enough rope to do what they need and yet not hang themselves. My scenario generally falls within this area: I want to give my clients a little more than what the Editor Role allows, but far less than what the Admin role provides.

WordPress has great plugins to help manage such situations, but none of them alone seem to do the trick. Here are the plugins I’ve looked at.

White Label CMS

This is a cool little plugin that lets you brand certain elements of the admin console for your client. It’s pretty cool actually. It also lets you modify what menus are visible to users below the Admin level and also create your own custom control panel for them. The problem here is that it doesn’t actually add additional functionality to the Editor account and you can’t modify what the Admin role sees.

White Label CMS »

Adminimize

I love this plugin! This provides the granular control of enabling/disabling, per menu and function, what your users can do. The problem again is that it doesn’t provide more access to editor and whatever you limit for Admin roles also limits what you can do… That’s close, but not close enough.

Adminimize »

Members

This is a clean plugin that was introduced to me by Brandon Dove, of Pixel Jar, at the Orange County WordPress Meetup at Zeek interactive. This plugin is clean and plain awesome. It allows you to create roles beyond the existing roles and also to modify existing roles. For one client I created a “webmaster” role. They could do much more than an editor and far less than the Administrator role. However, there are a couple of key elements that Members leaves out, such as being able to single out editing of widgets and the new WordPress menu system.

Members »

What to do ?

Adminimize + Members = Fine grain control.

Simply create a new role in Members and then go to Adminimize, which will be aware of the new Role you created. From there you can go down the list and select which options and functions are available to that role. My client, in addition to making posts and pages, can now also edit the wordpress menu system and also modify just widgets, not any other element beneath the Appearance menu section. Lovely! (Justin Tadlock is actually taking beta signups for his newest iteration of his Members plugin. Check it out)

This is a fantastic working compromise until WordPress gets more elegant with their user management system.


Author:

Alex Vasquez is a web designer, coder, artist and business owner. When he's not lost in his own to-do lists, he spends time taking a hike, or bike ride with his girlfriend and making snarky comments along the way; he's never too far from his favorite craft beer. You can find me on Twitter or check out my business site over at DigiSavvy

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18 Comments

  1. Excellent recommendations where you have recognised both +ves and -ves for each plugin. Good read.

  2. WordPress London

    I got fed up of installing/ setting the same old plugins and prefs each time on clients sites so I’ve developed our own Dev MU plugin which essentially, strips out everything the client doesn’t need plus white labels the WP admin.
    It works for us, and clients love it.

  3. Tom

    Nice article- I use members and adminimise myself, for creating clients sites.
    @Wordpress London- I’ve been toying with the idea of this for a while now as like you, I’m getting fed up having to keep installing/ configuring the same old plugins time & time again. The configuration of adminimise alone, is very time-consuming.

  4. Genius!  Probably faster / easier than the tutorial I go through.

  5. Really love this blog for CDN ;)

  6. Jon

    Awesome tips, thanks!  

    Clients needing to edit widgets is one of my frequent stumlbing block.  I’m often using a text widget to put some editable text on a home page (a la Genesis) but I don’t necessarily want to give a client the ability ot add/remove widgets.  I’ll have to look again to see if there is a way to create a custom role that can only edit the contents and settings of widets, but not add/remove relocate them…

    • Well, Mr. Downtown Brown, I think this would work well for you for sure. Sure, it requires additional plugins, but, as I said, it’s a good solid compromise.

  7. Anonymous

    Am I blind, missing something, or trying the impossible ? Our church website has a plugin for uploading sermons to the website (Sermon Browser) and I’m trying to create an account that is limited to just that functionality. If I create a new Role in Members, that seems to control what they can get to in the Admin area. Adminimize shows the area that I’m trying to limit access to, but I can’t seem to get the Member Role that I’ve created to be able to get to the section of the Admin area they need to get to. If I limit everything in Members to “Read” only, they have no options in the Dashboard. If I give them everything in Members, Adminimize doesn’t seem to have any control over their access to the various sections.

    I’m on 3.1.4 and using Adminimize 1.7.19 and Members 0.2. Think I’ve got the concept down, but I’m wondering if I’ve got a bad combo of something going on, or if something in Members has changed since this was written.

    • Anonymous

      Well, a few minutes more of playing around apparently paid off. I had to grant the user access to posts/pages in Members, then limit their access from within Adminimize.

  8. Troy Dean

    Hey thanks for mentioning our White Label CMS plugin. We have some more advice on how to make WordPress better for clients in our presentation from WordCamp Melbourne.
    http://wpcandy.com/watches/workshop-a-better-wordpress-for-your-clients-by-troy-dean-at-wordcamp-melbourne-2011

    Keep up the great work.

  9. Your a life savior man!

  10. Hello and thanks for the info. Can you answer a question?

    What I need is to restrict access to posts/pages that have videos from Vimeo Pro (embed codes). I want my students to be able to access the videos only for 3 times each. So I would like to know if your plugin is good to restrict post or page access for a certain number of times.

    Thanks for any help.

    Regards

    Mauro

  11. Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us
    so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information.
    I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Exceptional blog and amazing design and style.

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