Advanced Custom Fields (often shortened as ACF) is a popular WordPress plugin to create custom fields. It is a great tool to create a dynamic WordPress site that requires custom fields or other types of custom content. In case ACF doesn’t work the way you expected, we have collected some best alternatives you can give a try.
A little intro about custom fields. A custom field is a metadata box that stores additional information related to a blog post, page, or custom post type. Plugins like ACF and the similar ones (which will cover in this article) are designed to allow you to create a set of custom fields without coding. Here are examples of custom fields:
As you can see in the image above. There are 3 custom fields in a custom fields group called Movie Summary. The custom fields are Score, Genre, Review Summary. The examples above are the implementation of custom fields on a movie review website. Creating custom fields will make it easy for you to sort your articles. You can, for instance, create a list of top 100 all-time movies and offers a filtering feature to allow your visitors to filter the movies by genre, rating, release date, and so on.
WooCommerce, the most popular e-commerce WordPress plugin, is the best example of how custom fields are implemented.
So, here are the best ACF alternatives you can give a try to create custom fields on your WordPress site.
Best ACF Alternatives
On the list:
JetEngine is functionally one of the best ACF alternatives. Not only you can use JetEngine to create custom fields but also other custom content types including custom post types, custom taxonomies, custom forms, listing items, dynamic calendar, dynamic gallery, and so on. When creating custom fields group with JetEngine, you can use choose the following field types:
- Text area
- Icon picker
- Color picker
You can assign the custom fields group to posts (blog posts), custom post types, pages, WooCommerce products, and so on.
JetEngine can work on Elementor, Gutenberg, and Bricks Builder. If you are an Elementor user, you can use JetEngine whether on Elementor Pro or Elementor Free. The custom content type creation is done via the JetEngine backend. You can then add the custom content type you created to an Elementor design (page or template).
In addition to allowing you to create a custom content type, JetEngine also allows you to add default dynamic content types of WordPress such as featured image, post title, post meta, author profile, site title, and so on. JetEngine itself is a paid plugin. It is part of JetPlugins, a set of premium Elementor add-ons developed by Crocoblock.
Looking for a free solution to create custom fields in WordPress? Pods can be the best answer. This plugin is completely free to use. You can use it to add custom fields to the WordPress default post types (posts and pages) and default taxonomies (categories and tags). Pods also allows you to create a custom post type and add custom fields group to it. Pods supports the following field types:
- Plain text
- Plain number
- Color picker
Pods has a native integration support with Elementor that allows you to add the custom fields you created with Pods to an Elementor design. However, Elementor Pro version is required. If you use Beaver Builder, you can install the Pods Beaver Themer Add-On plugin (free) to integrate Pods with Beaver Builder.
Toolset is a paid plugin. No free version is available. You can also use it as an alternative to ACF. You can use Toolset to create a dynamic website for your client or your own business. The types of custom content you can create with Toolset are vary depending on the plan you use. The cheapest plan ($69) allows you to create custom post types, custom fields, custom repeaters.
4. Custom Field Suite
Custom Field Suite is another great option if you are looking for a free plugin to create custom fields on your WordPress site. However, you need to have PHP knowledge to use it. You don’t need to deal with PHP scripts to create custom fields. But to implement your custom fields to a template, you need to write a PHP script.
This plugin tends suited for WordPress developers with advanced skills, including coding. Custom Field Suite is a free plugin. The developer offers no technical support so you need to solve every issue yourself.
There are 14 field types offered by Custom Field Suite:
- Text area
- Color picker
- File upload
You can assign the custom fields group to posts, pages, custom post types, and so on.
5. Meta Box
Meta Box is a freemium custom field plugin. If you use the free version, you can’t create the custom fields from your WordPress dashboard. Instead, you can only do so via a page provided by Meta Box. From this page, you can create the custom fields you need. Once done, you can generate the PHP code of custom fields group. The generated code is a new WordPress function which you can add by adding it to the functions.php file of your theme.
The process is a bit hassle for the free version indeed. It’s even more hassle if you need to add a new field as you need to visit the Meta Box website to do so. Meta Box itself supports the following field types:
- Checkbox List
- Select Advanced
- Text Area
- Color Picker
- Date Time
- Fieldset Text
- Google Maps
- Image Select
- Text List
- WYSIWYG Editor
- Taxonomy Advanced
- File Advanced
- File Input
- Image Advanced
The Bottom Line
With WordPress, everyone can be a website developer without needing to have coding skills (although having coding skills would give you many advantages). The ability to add custom fields is the WordPress feature you can make use of to create a complex website.
The existence of page builder plugins that support dynamic content (Elementor in particular) makes your job even easier. You can add custom fields (or create new custom post types) with the plugins above and add them to your design.