Many of us use WordPress to power our various websites, particularly our blogs. It’s easily one of the most robust, flexible and customizable content management systems available on the Internet today. Perhaps you use it to run your online store, packed with plenty of great products. Maybe you have a resource website. Or maybe you’ve got a blog with hundreds or even thousands of blog posts.
That’s all great, but it can sometimes be difficult for your website visitors to actually find what they’re looking for. A much more powerful yet remarkably easy-to-use solution to this common conundrum is the Posts Table Pro WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media. You’ll never use the default archives again.
What Is Posts Table Pro?
With the Posts Table Pro plugin for WordPress, you’ll be able to generate dynamic tables inside your WordPress posts and pages with nothing more than a simple shortcode. As a blogger, the most obvious application here is to make it as easy as possible for your readers to find exactly the blog content that they’d like to read.
By default, WordPress lets you organize your content with categories and tags, but the default experience of the end user leaves a lot to be desired. Have you ever gone to a blog and just looked at the default category page? All you get is a list of posts in that category arranged in reverse chronological order and that’s it. There’s no way to filter them by tag or to search for keywords only within that category.
The way that the Posts Table Pro plugin works is almost like providing readers with a similar kind of posts table as you see within your WordPress dashboard. Depending on how you choose to configure this table, they can see the categories, tags, date, excerpt and more associated with any given post, filtering by tags and categories, choosing the number of entries shown, searching for keywords and more.
Outside of blogging, this plugin is just as suitable for document libraries, directories, online stores, books and music, event listings and more. All sorts of different websites can find this plugin beneficial.
Setting It Up
The initial installation and activation of Posts Table Pro works exactly the same way as with any other WordPress plugin. Download the zip file, go into your WordPress control panel, choose to upload a plugin from the Plugins page, select the zip file, and activate the plugin. Then, navigating to the corresponding settings page, you can enter your license key.
Don’t worry about being confused over some fancy control panel. The settings page for this plugin looks like the rest of your WordPress admin dashboard. Just work your way down this single page of settings and configure the plugin to how you’d like it.
I wouldn’t say there is necessarily a learning curve to this plugin, per se, but it will take some time to familiarize yourself with all the different options and features you can use. Thankfully, the extensive knowledge base really does cover all the bases, and the settings page is filled with contextual “learn more” links throughout to guide you through the process.
For instance, it is from the settings page that you will define what columns will be shown in your table. I misinterpreted this settings field at first and put “5” for five columns. Clicking the “read more” link next to the field, though, is how I learned the names of the available columns, which I then entered as a comma-separated list. Simple and straightforward.
Many of the settings can be left at their defaults if you’d like or you can dig in and start changing everything. This includes everything from excerpt length to whether you’d like to enable “lazy load,” from setting the post limit (how many posts are included in the table) to how the table contents are sorted. You can choose the position of the search box (or choose to hide it), and you can set whether you’d like to cache table contents and how frequently the cache should be refreshed. It’s a lot, but it’s all very easy to understand.
Table in Action
The best way to understand just how intuitive and practical this plugin can be is to see it in action. I created a new page on my blog to test it out, but you could just as easily insert the table shortcode into any existing post or page too. In this way, you could add images and text, just as you would with any other WordPress content. For the purposes of this demo, I only put the shortcode for the table.
In this first shot, I left the default settings for filters, number of entries shown, position of the search bar (top), position of the total entry count (bottom), and position of the page numbers (bottom). For the columns, I opted for the image (which pulls the corresponding featured image), the post title, the category, the content (the first 15 words of the post; the length can be adjusted), and the publication date.
You’ll notice the up and down arrows next to every column except image. This allows site visitors to decide on ascending or descending order for those columns, an option you can take away from them in the settings if you prefer. For this default demonstration, I allowed the table to list all of my blog posts.
What’s really great about this plugin is just how easy you can customize it. The basic shortcode is how I got that first table, but I can add in parameters such that the table only includes specific categories, tags, IDs, post types, statuses, dates, authors, or custom field values. In this example above, I defined that the table should only include posts that had the “vlog” tag associated with them.
As a result, the table only shows the blog posts where I talk about my weekly vlog. But the customization can go much further than that.
Here, I combined the “vlog” tag parameter with the parameter to only include posts in the “Destinations” category, which I use for travel content on my blog. When I did this, only posts that met both criteria were included in the table. In defining these parameters, you can use the associated slug for the category or tag, or you can enter the specific corresponding ID, which you can find through your WordPress dashboard.
For both tags and categories, you can list multiple entries in the shortcode too. If you separate multiple entries with commas, then those commas act like “or” whereas using a + symbol acts like an “and.” You can use commas or plus symbols, but not both.
If you would like to stylize the look of the table, you can do that with your own custom CSS, but that’s not a function that’s baked into the plugin itself.
How Much Does It Cost?
The Posts Table Pro premium WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media is available in three different licenses: the $79 personal license is good for one site, the $129 business license is good for 5 sites, and the $279 agency license is good for up to 20 sites. That’s for an annual subscription, which includes new features, security updates and customer support.
It should be noted, though, that once you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin, it is yours to keep. However, you will need to maintain an active subscription if you want to receive updates and support, which they highly recommend you do.