Two WordPress plugins for better workflow & productivity

While there are a lot of articles on the internet out there that talk about great WordPress plugins, very few talk about workflow. In this article we bring you two WordPress plugins that improve your content workflow, save you time, and lift your productivity. We love them, actually, and recommend them to all new clients of ours who run WordPress.

Read on to see why.

When more than one person is involved, workflow is critical

Your people have more to do than chase writers, reviewers, or approvers for content. More to the point, having all of the conversation exclusively by email is not always a good idea. Firstly, it’s not transparent. Secondly, keeping track of input can be a mammoth task when more than one person is involved.

Even removing that one task of having to sift through email will lift your productivity.

Content Scheduler simplifies your content review periods

You can keep all the content matrices you like, but unless you are on top of your game you will still miss review dates. Reviewing existing material is that one job that always falls to the bottom of the list, especially when you have a manager with something else ‘more important’ to do first.

There’s an excellent plugin for WordPress that can help you. It’s called Content Scheduler. This plugin will expire your content for you. It’s settings range from what we like to think of as ‘safe’ versus ‘gambling’.

Content Scheduler will:

  • Unstick sticky posts
  • Change post statuses to draft, pending, or private
  • Change categories (useful for when a you hit a pre-​determined archive date)
  • Add and remove tags
  • … and even move posts to the trash.

You can, of course, also set Content Scheduler just to email you when your content expires, and leave it the hell alone until you get to intervene.

How to get the most out of Content Scheduler

The first (and most obvious) thing is to make sure you set the date every time you publish something new on your site.

Before you start using Content Scheduler, do the legwork to establish your rules of governance. For example, if you automatically archive posts every three months, then make sure that the rules in the plugin match your business rules. Set the plugin up, test it, and let it run.

Can I set more than one rule in Content Scheduler?

Unfortunately, no, you can’t do that. It would be awesome if you could! Our best advice is to work out the most important thing for the scheduler to automate, and let it do the rest.

Manage your workflow with Edit Flow

EditFlow does exactly what it promises: It redefines your WordPress workflow. All of our WordPress-​based clients have this installed, and it is an absolute godsend.

This screenshot shows all of the features of EditFlow: Calendar, Custom Statuses, Dashboard Widgets, Editorial Comments, Editorial Metadata, Notifications, Story Budget, and User Groups.
This shows you the features EditFlow brings your workflow.

Correctly configured, EditFlow will let you run a workflow like this:

  • User A has an idea, so adds a draft blog post with the status “pitch”, and saves it. Selects an editor to which to send an editorial comment, along the lines of Hey, check out my awesome idea.
  • Editor B agrees that the idea is awesome, fills in all the meta data (when the draft is due, whether it needs a photo, what the post needs to cover, and an approximate word count), and assigns the writing of the post to Writer G. Editor B sends the writer an editorial comment, along the lines of, This is a great idea, shape it like this and get Photographer Z to give you the artwork.
  • Writer G goes forth and completes the work by the requested date. On putting the content into the system, the writer changes the status to pending review and saves it. Then, he chooses an approver or publisher (or maybe even the editor, if the workflow goes back that way again), adds an editorial comment with what they’ve done and when they think it would be best published, and saves it again.
  • Approver T gets notified of the final product, gives it a once-​over and schedules it. In doing so, the approver can see all of the comments made by previous users involved in the workflow.

That final point about the communication being visible is essential when content requires edits. It makes all editorial commentary visible.

If you’re thinking so what? then think about how this can improve your ability to see the skill level and quality of output of your writing team. If you have Writer G who follows a brief to the letter and delivers high quality, and Writer H who has to rework things a number of times, then all of that will be visible. It’s just one way of keeping on top of your team’s performance.

More features…

The calendar lets you see all your content at a glance, and to drag and drop material from one date to another. The Story Budget lets you see all of your content to within 999 days (past or future), refined by category. This is perfect if you have a heavy publishing schedule and need a printout to take to a meeting.

The widgets, notifications, and customised user groups let you further control all elements of the workflow, in the way best suited to your business.

While many people will never use the full range of features, this little plugin will give you so much more control over the flow of your work that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Do you use any other WordPress plugins that help your workflow?

Drop us a comment and let us know. We’ll keep this post up to date with curated suggestions.

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