Upgrade Your Publishing Flow with the Post Descriptions WordPress Plugin

Tom de Visser, a developer from Amsterdam, released the Post Descriptions plugin last week. It was his first submission to the WordPress.org plugin repository. It allows users to write short descriptions on a per-post basis, which are then displayed on the post-management screen.

For an initial outing, it already seems to be a hit with its small user base. It has already racked up several five-star reviews and over 100 active installs. Granted, one of those reviews is from his employer, Mediaversa. While that might not seem like much from the outside looking in, anyone who has created plugins knows that it is a successful launch for an individual developer’s first plugin submission.

The plugin’s goal is simple: leave small notes, reminders, to-dos, or longer descriptions for posts. It could be an ideal solution for a small team, but lone bloggers might need it too.

Post Descriptions works with both the regular WordPress post editor or the classic editor by adding a meta box to the side of the editing screen. Currently, it only allows descriptions for posts or pages. Maybe the developer will add a post-type-support flag or filter hook for custom post types in the future.

Meta box on the post-editing screen for adding a post description.
Posts Descriptions plugin meta box.

Aside from the description input box, users can tick the “Make your description important” checkbox to highlight a particular note. This option gives the text’s display a red color and turns it bold when viewed.

Descriptions are viewable via the post or page management screens. By default, they appear as a “state,” similar to how pending or draft states next to the title. The plugin also displays them under a “Description” column. Users can turn off the state display via the plugin’s settings screen and toggle the extra column via WordPress’s built-in Screen Options tab.

Post states via the Post Descriptions plugin on the post management screen.
Descriptions as post “states.”

One of my favorite features of this plugin is the flexibility of selecting where the notes appear on the post-management screen. Those who prefer one or two words can choose to display them as states. Those who prefer lengthier descriptions can show them in a separate column. Or, do both.

Description column on the post management screen for displaying notes.
Column for displaying post descriptions.

Users can also add descriptions via the Quick Edit link on the post-management screen.

From a user-experience standpoint, it hits some of those sweet spots of usability and simplicity. Under the hood, the code is solid. The developer does not seem to be overthinking things and making the plugin more complicated than necessary.

For small teams, I envision building a labeling system around this plugin that could address workflow issues. Adding short notes like Editor Review, SEO Review, and similar would alert the right team members to sign off on a post.

While the flexibility of displaying notes as either states or descriptions is welcome, it does not account for a third type of user. My ideal workflow would be to have separate inputs for both states and descriptions. I could create a shorter state that gets my team’s attention. Then, if more information is needed, I could add a longer description.

Post management screen displaying short notes as post states and longer ones under a description column.
Idea: Separate state and description text.

The downside in such a system is that it puts yet another input field in front of the end-user. Sometimes the route with the least effort is best. And, for a quick post note plugin, it is tough to beat the plugin’s current solution.

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6 responses to “Upgrade Your Publishing Flow with the Post Descriptions WordPress Plugin”

  1. Sally G says:

    This looks very useful, thanks for the notice.

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  2. Thanks for the review, Justin

    I also like the simplicity of the Plugin and I’m sure it’s getting additional features over time. Your proposal to add some form of taxonomy (label, tags, status) and make it possible to show the label besides the title and the description as separate column independently would be great. But then it’s getting more of a checklist then a description and there are already plugins out there that do an excellent job of this, eg. Pre-Publish Checklist by Brainstorm Force or PublishPress Checklists. Both of them allow their use on other post types. But if other post types will show the “description” is another story. In my tests with Sugar Calendar (Lite) and Seriously Simple Podcasting they didn’t show up. It’s likely that would work in some simple post types (it surely does for pages).

    Looking forward to updates.
    Besides the “labeling system” with tags I’d like to see an option to add checklists directly in the description. That would be more flexible than a fixed checklist per post type as it’s done with other checklist plugins.

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    • Thanks, Christian, super helpful feedback! I really want to keep the plugin as simple as possible, but you can expect: choosing your own color for the important states, optional separation for states/description, support for custom post types. :)

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  3. Thanks for the spot-on review, Justin! I did not expect that for my first plug-in. :)

    You really read my mind. I was just trying to make it as simple as possible, as I love lightweight plug-ins that do just the thing you want them to do without adding extra functionality.

    I’m also planning on separating the post states from the longer descriptions, but I haven’t figured out the best way to do this yet. I might make an extra checkbox that lets you decide if you want to separate the state from the description, and if not you’ll have the description in both places.

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    • These type of lightweight plugins are my favorite, and I always like to highlight interesting projects here on the Tavern when I get the chance. Great work! And, I hope to see more from you in the future.

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  4. Bren Murphy says:

    Great addition. I like simple plug ins that make my workflow more meaningful. Adds “at a glance” functionality for small teams.

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