Frito-Lay’s Custom Project Management App Is Built on WordPress

Every year Frito-Lay pulls in billions of dollars from sales of its flagship assortment of potato chips, including Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos, and Ruffles. Behind all of these crunchy snacks is a busy hive of designers and project managers who require a robust system for working together on creative projects.

Last year, Frito-Lay approached Lift, a WordPress design and development agency, to create a custom project management/proofing app for its creative team. Lift opted to build the app using WordPress as a base. The result is a completely customized admin experience tailored to fit Frito-Lay’s workflow like a glove.


Under the Hood of the App

The project management app melds a collection of plugins with an accompanying theme to deliver the necessary user roles, custom fields, notifications/updates, and upload management.

“We created a custom theme that includes modifications to the WordPress admin and force redirects users to sign in if they attempt to visit a page that typically would appear on the front-end,” Lift Partner Chris Wallace said. His team used a number of plugins to customize the admin, including:

Lift implemented the custom admin design as part of the theme. They built it in such a way that the client will be able to keep pace with WordPress core and plugin updates without breaking the app.

“We tried to keep major UI changes to a minimum and focus on building the UI with Advanced Custom Fields wherever we needed that level of customization,” Wallace said.

“There are a few custom UI elements but they are styled and managed through our custom theme, so updated plugins and WordPress Core shouldn’t ever really break those things as long as major actions and filters remain in place.”


Lift customized the project workflow for Frito-Lay using new workflows based on post statuses, modeled after the way Edit Flow manages the editorial process.

“When projects are updated, we check for a certain status and send out update emails to whoever needs to be notified for certain stages of the project,” Wallace said. “Additionally, we swapped the ‘publish’ metabox out for a custom one based on our status updates, allowing us to easily show the state of the project and change the UI as necessary.”

Why Use WordPress Instead of Basecamp?

You might be wondering why Frito-Lay would opt to build its own project management app when something like Basecamp already exists with similar features.

Basecamp’s top pricing tier is $3K per year and has a maximum storage limit of 500GB. That limit could be used up fairly quickly while managing design projects, which often require passing large files back and forth between team members.

Instead, Frito-Lay stores all of its data on Amazon, which allows the team to organize files exactly how it needs them. Building a custom project management app preserves the team’s established workflow. They never have to worry about running out of space and can always modify the app’s behavior if necessary in the future.

Wallace said that it’s not uncommon for Lift to receive requests from companies that prefer to build their own custom software, instead of going with a SaaS provider. In many cases, building a custom solution is more cost effective for the client in the long run.

“Most of the projects we’ve done recently have been for television networks and news organizations but we do receive frequent requests to modify workflows in the WordPress admin,” he said. “I would say most of our work involves theme design but there are definitely clients who need plugins that add or modify the admin one way or another.”

Although WordPress proved to be a strong option for Frito-Lay, Wallace and the Lift team don’t always pitch the platform for their projects.

“It just so happens that it is a good fit for many of the projects we are presented with,” he said. “I think for most website projects nowadays, clients just need something familiar, fast, and easy to use and WordPress typically fits in with that.”

Lift is currently building more projects with AngularJS using the WordPress REST API to create more customized app-like solutions.

“I think the ability to create WordPress-powered apps in Javascript is a big step forward for WordPress,” Wallace said. “It allows you to create and manage a number of apps that can interact with a single WordPress site.”

Building custom apps for clients doesn’t always mean starting from scratch. “I think we’ve gotten to the point where WordPress has proven to be highly stable, scalable, fast, and easy-to-use,” he said.

“If you need advice, there are a bunch of local meetups and online groups dedicated to WP, an advantage which is lacking in some of the smaller CMS tools out there. Community is everything.”


6 responses to “Frito-Lay’s Custom Project Management App Is Built on WordPress”

  1. Interesting,

    Not to be negative….

    The question in there as to why use WordPress .vs. Bootcamp, I’d be saying why use WordPress .vs. Liferay Portal which we have used and has a completely customizable workflow that can satisfy all of a enterprise entities intranet/internet needs in one high performance application? It’s perfect for enterprise level entities, has a community edition and pretty much guarantee’s the client will be coming back for more as it is capable “out of the box” to handle international / multinational business intranet/internets.

    Its important to know more than “one thing”. While we are rather new to WP we have had in 5 weeks 4 referrals without even mentioning a thing of sites using WooCommerce to port them to another platform. Not like we even have the time to do it but we will manage setting all 4 (luckily) into Prestashop.

    Liferay is used by Cisco, BASF, Toyota, Disney on and on. Its exactly what it is MEANT to do and it does it so much better than WP or Joomla its literally night and day. Its not something that get cobbled together to suit a task and the development firm not only can make a TON more money but appear a WHOLE lot more professional in doing so.

    I shall cite an example. Was’nt us but a different firm out of Buffalo we’d met at a tech seminar. The received a contract with a local company (Was called like Gentech or something along those lines). I dont know the results of it all either as their CEO had told me they just acquired the contract (I always put us out there to other firms, “If you need custom code, need C#, PHP, Java, integrations help whatall). Anyways… Place was using WP and some PHP portal app? Cant recall the name but was pretty big in 2010. They too were looking at modding out WP to service this clients needs.

    The Clients needs however sure… could be done with WP. But why? They wanted eCommerce and intranet capabilities in accordance with some external channels. Prestashop fit their eCommerce needs and then some. Liferay (which is Java based) makes any portal applications in PHP look simply silly. I told their CEO, spent almost 3 hours with him and didnt get back to my city until nearly 4AM in the morning look at WHAT you can charge for this. Moving their site from WP to Prestashop $5000 giving them what they are asking for, if they want product moved, slap another $1500 bucks atop it. Use any one of the intelligent data conversion codebase libraries available in .NET for Windows. They make moving fairly complex data, which this isnt less difficult, in the case of like Joomla or WP its simply trivial. Thats $1500 extra for an hour of coding in visual studio and 20 seconds runtime.

    Told him with Liferay not only can they get the workflows being requested but they can be customized very very granular at anytime and if they “do it right” they can more than likely expect this companies channel partners to be calling. Another $20,000 minimum atop it. By what I saw of the requirement, about 72 hours of work. So, 8 hours a day, two weeks done. $27,000 two weeks work. Not a single piece of code need be done short of the theme and prospect transport of the eCommerce data.

    With a company such as Frito Lay? Oh my gosh. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY.

    You dont give companies like this “What they need” even if that was WP workflows. Uh uh. You give them WAY more than they need and explain HOW and WHY its the better solution as they can integrate ALL intranet workflows both domestic and international with fine granular support.

    So whether its corporate communications, or product design, or advertising, or this dept. or that dept. they can see a “future” that affords both tight AND loose process integrations possible.

    Hence why entities like Toyota for example use Liferay. I mean, its hundreds of thousands of dollars of prospect work and as the cherry atop the cake if one makes extensions to suit specific needs for Liferay one now has a pluther of BIG companies with BIG wallets as prospect clients.


Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: