March 13th, 2012 / Ross Johnson / 48 Comments

Project Status Plugin for WordPress

Don’t care why I created the plugin? Skip the explanation and download it here.

The most valuable insight I have gained from running a design agency is an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. Like most agency owners or freelancers, I got into the business because I love creativity. While business is exciting and I love aspects of it, running an agency often requires performing tasks that fall in my weakness category. Project management is one aspects of business I frequently struggle with.

If it were up to me, I would spend time creating amazing things rather than planning when to create them or talking about what was created. That being said, any design professional respects the role of project management. Having been on both sides of the fence (client and provider) I know exactly how it feels to be in the dark about your project. If your a designer you must excel at project management, even if it’s not second nature.

Over the past seven years I have learned addressed my deficiency by harnessing my core asset, creativity.  Rather than force myself to adopt the common methods of project management I have begun creating tools that spread the weight of PM tasks. My current tool — “Project Status”  — is my favorite tool thus far.

A WordPress Plugin for Keeping Clients Updated

Anytime you experience the same situation a several times there is an opportunity to improve on it. My inspiration was a common occurrence of clients inquiring about the status of their project. This often happened despite setting dates, outlining milestones and creating schedules. To me, this illustrated two issues. Most importantly, clients shouldn’t have to proactively contact me to get an update. Secondarily the materials I delivered were too cumbersome to sort through and reference.

There are plenty of project management tools available, my company uses Basecamp for project management. While I still use it today, it’s use is primarily for internal communication. The problem with these systems is they are designed for the agencies, not clients. Most clients dread the idea of logging into a foreign system and the information provided is not what they are looking for anyways. In my experience, those who try these systems inevitably give up and resorting to e-mail by the time the project is over.

Most clients don’t care about what tasks we are performing or what the key milestones are. They  just want a general idea of how far along their project is, what they are responsible for and an expected completion date. Everything else is noise or irrelevant. Being that I haven’t come across a system that easily does this I went ahead and created one.

This creation is called “Project Status.” It’s a simple WordPress plugin for service based businesses and freelancers. It’s primary function is to give clients a visual indicator of the project status. More specifically it lets you define four key phases of a project, currently activities and client responsibilities. Rather than requiring logins, clients can access their project status through a custom URL.

And that’s just the beginning.

Plugin Features

This plugin is a simple way to give clients that information while providing you with a high level overview of open projects and their standpoint. It gives you the ability to:

  • Create and manage unlimited projects
  • Track levels of completion
  • Track current tasks
  • Identify client responsibilities and project holds
  • Identify four major milestones (20%/40%/60%/80%)
  • Send clients to a page containing the above information

Projects are displayed in a responsive template so clients can access and monitor their project from any device.

Future Plans

I have some big future plans, but first and foremost I want to know what the plugin is missing. In its current form this tool scratches my itch extremely well. That being said everyone’s business is run differently. I would love to hear what features and functionality would make this tool more useful to everyone.

For me, the only feature it doesn’t currently have is a method e-mail communication. My plan is to include some capability to e-mail project stakeholders letting them know their project has been updated (or even include the status in the e-mail.) I am debating if this should be automated, manual or an option. Time will tell.

Do you have an idea for an improvement? Let me know in the comments below. Otherwise you can download the plugin from WordPress.org.

48 thoughts Project Status Plugin for WordPress

  1. Project Status Plugin for WordPress: Don’t care why I created the plugin? Skip the explanation and download it h… http://t.co/laMR2H0W

  2. Project Status Plugin for WordPress | Psychology of Web Design | 3.7 Blog http://t.co/7qyhyiXB via @ThinkDevGrow

  3. Hi Ross,

    First of all: What a brilliant idea!

    What I’d like to see in the future is the ability to change the layout to something more fitting to my corporate design. Probably best would be an option to show the client’s page inside the normal theme context. Nice would be the ability to translate the plugin without editing it.

    A few things I have noticed during testing: The path to the stylesheet does not work when WP is installed in a subfolder.
    The plugin is probably missing a “Duplicate Project” function, since i.e. in my case, some similar projects occur frequently, so you don’t have to insert the project details again and again, instead simply change only the needed things like time range and client’s name

    I hope I could express myself well enough, english is not my first language. I eagerly wait for the next updates of this nice plugin 😉

    Greetings from Germany
    André

    sixtyseven
  4. I just found another issue: The 80% Milestine is displaying the 20% Milestone text 😉

    sixtyseven
  5. Project Status Plugin for WordPress – http://t.co/ta2yoLSQ #wordpress #webdev

  6. This is pretty slick. Trying this out on a local install. Line 71 of client_projects.php should be “eighty_percent_desc” instead of “twenty_percent_desc”. I also had to remove the forward slash in front of the path to the main.css to get the css to show up. Very cool plugin. Looking forward to future releases. Thanks!

    ricky
  7. Sorry for posting again so soon but there seems to be a bug with the metadata. While testing, I noticed metadata would randomly get erased. Further testing shows it’s not so random. I believe it is related to WordPress’s autosave feature. It might be clearing the metadata. See this post: http://www.andrewgail.com/wordpress-autosave-and-custom-fields/

    Do you think that might be what’s going on?

    Ricky

    ricky
  8. Great catches Ricky, thanks for the heads up. I will look into it and push an update as soon as possible. I am really glad you like it, can you think of any other improvements?

    Ross Johnson
  9. When I think about adding features that other users might find useful, I consider what you said here: “They just want a general idea of how far along their project is, what they are responsible for and an expected completion date. Everything else is noise or irrelevant.” I think that’s correct!

    One thing that came to my mind was commenting. But I assume WordPress comments code could just be added to the template.

    Additionally, I thought that some users might like some sort of client approval mechanism. But considering the purpose of this plugin, it hardly seems necessary.

    I played around with adding custom fields through another plugin, and just updating the display template to show those custom fields. So that opens up a lot of options for customization.

    One thing that might be useful by default is some sort of “project assigned to…” field. That way, organizations could assign projects to certain individuals, and the client could know exactly who they are dealing with at any given point in the project.

    Sorry for the long post. I can be a little wordy sometimes. If I start using this plugin, I’ll let you know what feedback I get from clients.

    Ricky

    ricky
  10. Hey Andre,

    Thanks for the feedback. Great ideas with duplication, theming, translation and thanks for catching the stylesheet issue.

    I will see what I can incorporate into the next version. Stay tuned and I am really glad you find it useful.

    Ross Johnson
  11. Just made a quick update on Project Status, fixed some bugs. Give me some suggestions for future features – http://t.co/9Ib1SS2P

  12. Is it possible for me to display the list of projects I’m working on on the front end to be visible to the public?

    Sean
  13. Not yet, but that’s a really good idea. Let me see if I can add that into the next release.

    Ross Johnson
  14. Hi, I just whipped this up to display projects on the front end so feel free to use it in any way you want.
    I have it in project-status.php and to display it, just use the shortcode [project_list]

    function show_project_list()
    {
    $args = array( ‘post_type’ => ‘client_projects’);
    $loop = new WP_Query( $args );
    echo ”;
    while ( $loop->have_posts() ) : $loop->the_post();
    $baseURL = get_bloginfo(‘wpurl’);
    $postType = “client_projects”;
    ?>
    <a href="” title=” ‘Permalink to: ‘, ‘after’ => ”)); ?>”>
    <?php
    endwhile;
    echo '’;
    }
    add_shortcode( ‘project_list’, ‘show_project_list’ );

    Sean
  15. Great plugin! I do miss a couple of things though:

    – A shortcode for single projects. While it’s nice to be able to display a project list, it’d be even better to be able to hae the project page integrated into the website.

    – Gantt charts! While i understand you’re striving for simplicity here, a (very) simple way to do this would be to have each ‘current task’ / ‘current hold’ task in its own field, with +/- controls to add/remove as many as needed and displaying them all as lists.
    Each task could then have its own progress percentage dropdown, similar to the one you already have for the main project. If a percentage is selected, then a corresponding progress bar is displayed under that task, otherwise only the task is shown.

    Just a suggestion! Great job so far and many thanks for making this free!

    Flo
  16. One last thing i just noticed: A bunch of custom fields with blank values have been added by default to all the posts. I understand that these fields are necessary for the custom-type posts used as projects, but should they be in all the other non-custom posts as well? Even if i delete them, they are re-created at every save.

    Hope this is useful feedback 🙂

    Flo
  17. We are using this plug-in to share the various steps in the production schedule for our books & eBooks with our authors, editors, and cover artwork illustrators. Because the steps in producing a book (and an eBook) are always the same, it would be great if I could copy an existing project and use that as a template for a new title. I also wish I could break it up into more than the 20/40/60/80 detail boxes, but we can certainly live with it as it is now.

    The important thing is that we can mark this section of our website as private and just send a page link to the people who are working on a given title. I think it’s been eye-opening because we’ve listed all the steps that have to be completed — and I don’t think people realize just how much stuff goes into manuscript production. Now they know why it takes so long ;o).

    Being able to highlight what specific tasks are being worked on right now, as well as things that are holding up forward momentum, is extremely useful. It’s not a “task check-off” tool by any means, which is what makes it ideal for sharing high-level information with outside participants.

    This is a really good plug-in! Thank you for making it.

    Sheri
  18. Great plug in! I would love some more flexibility to status of projects(ie type in my own percentages)

    A suggestion: adding small projects within a larger project. Then updating the status automatically as the small projects get completed.

  19. This plugin was a great starting point for me! I customized it for a multi user / assignee group (http://208.113.247.215/).

    I would love to figure out how to to trigger an email to an admin or specific user once a job has been created AND once it has hit 100%. Any thoughts there? Im good at jerry rigging code but not smart enough to write it on my own like you!

    Awesome pluggin, mad genius.

    -Ben

  20. I just discovered there is a conflict between the Project Status plug-in and another plug-in called Q&A, which allows you to post an FAQ section on your WordPress site: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/q-and-a/

    I need to have the extensive FAQ section we have developed available, more than having the Project Status screens, so I’ve had to deactivate it for now.

    I’m not sure what the conflict is, but it turns all the FAQ pages into 404 pages.

    Sheri

    Sheri
  21. is there a way where clients & admins can upload files for each other to view?

    is there a way for clients & admins to post replies for each task, for each other to view?

    fbi
  22. I really like this plugin, but what has kept me from using it are two things:

    – ability to integrate into current theme.
    – ability to keep projects private to the respective client. (This should tie in to the WP user management system.)

    I will keep my eye on this plugin for sure! 🙂

  23. Great plugin!
    It unfortunately is not compatible with the Simple Facebook Connect plugin, causing a duplication of the table in the header.
    Luckily there are tons of other Facebook plugins that are compatible!
    Just for future readers if they had the same problem I did! 🙂

    Jon
  24. What a brilliant idea. I am going to check this out asap. looks like a quick and clean solution for us to show customers the status for their project.

    Tnx

  25. Hey Ross! I’ve noticed the same CSS issue problem as well – no styles are showing up when looking at the post / project.

    Do you have a quick fix for this at the moment, before you release an update, or does anybody else?

    Alex Patin
  26. Hi, nice job dude!

    I am here to report a bug.

    It is still about description getting erased.

    When I finish editing each of my % status, and click save, I found the refreshed page has already lost these metadata, which means all my description fields are blank after I refresh, then comes the autosave and all the information is lost.

    Is it just me? or this issue bothers everyone?

    hubert
  27. Hi Hubert, do you have the most recent version of WordPress? Most users have reported the issue is resolved when they update. If not, let me know and I can try and figure out what’s going on.

    Ross Johnson
  28. Just wanted to see if anyone else is experiencing the issue I am with an unstyled “project”-page. Someone posted a similar bug on the wordpress.org forums regarding this otherwise very interesting plugin.

    http://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-project-status-project-pages-simply-showing-as-plain-html-no-styling

    Daniel
  29. update to the above mentioned issue. it’s because the css-ref in client_projects.php only uses “/wp-content/plugins” and doesn’t echo site_url()..

    I tried the plugin in a testserver where the wordpress installation is buried beneath a few folders, causing the issue to appear.

    Daniel
  30. I was thinking what would really make this great for me is adding an option to attach files to the project status pages. Clients can download the files and all will be organized in 1 place.

    As you mentioned before, email notifications would be a great option as well.

  31. Great tool! I just started using it and like what I see. I use it with an access restriction plugin that allows me to have a client login page that would then enable them to see all the projects. Still working out how to get all the current projects (non-completed) on a opening page and a separate page showing all completed projects.

    I would hope that there was a spot for me to drop my logo in the template to brand it more.

    Great work though and I look forward to updates!

  32. To be very fair, I just realized that if I put the project id in a page that the hole progress appears there. Thank you.

  33. Hi,
    I’m thinkin about using your plugin to display projects page for a non profit I work for, but I suggest my advices:

    1-I’d like to include the pj page into my wordpress content layout

    2-I’d like to add some special field.

    3-I’d love the opportunity for readers to follow the updates of the prject

    Hoping to find the way to use your plugin in my layout, thank you, the plugin is gr8!

    Francesca
  34. And I forgot, maybe some links or attchments!

    Francesca
  35. Okay, in playing with the plugin a bit more I realize the biggest need: to be able to quickly copy all the verbiage placed in the fields for use on future projects. I.E. I have a customer that repeats the entire line of items 2-3x a month. Using this project status tool will enable me to list out his PO’s (1 per item) and let him know the various stages. But it is a pain if I have to re-enter everything every time I do this.

  36. Project Status Plugin for WordPress | Psychology of Web Design | 3.7 Blog http://t.co/1JgMo3kH #wordpress #wp

  37. I really love this plugin and I am planning on using it extensively with projects. However, I would really love to be able to add or remove milestones than the 4 that are included. I think that if you could simply add as many milestones as you want or remove them, it would make this plugin infinitely more useful for full project management/status updating.

  38. I just switched to a Templatic theme, and Project Status causes all the links on my website to go 404. As soon as I deactivate Project Status, everything works again.

    Someone else posted the same issue with WooThemes. I hope the developer will consider posting a patch soon. I really like the program…

    Thanks.

  39. July 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm # hi, you have been doing a great work and impressive output.. I like to ask if u can develop a project management and task plugin to display client posted project from their S2member accounts, manage projects and progress… I havent seen any plugin as such.

    menu required,

    Post project, manage projects, project progress, all in a 3tab for different client. Once a client post a task or project, he should be able to see only his own project. not manual process.
    Get back to me and requirement to do this….
    Thanks

    cilsilver
  40. I am not sure if this was already stated but having an overview page of all the projects would be great!

    I picture seeing the overview stating the Project name, maybe people involved, progress bar, a status, and an attention area, like attention bill.

    Thanks!

    John
  41. Hello,

    Thanks for a great plugin!

    A suggestion: Instead of using bloginfo(‘url’), please use http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/plugins_url as not everyone uses wp-content nor got WordPress stored in root (you can work around the moved WordPress-foler by using site_url(‘/’) but not a moved wp-content).

    Please contact me if you want to exchange ideas about the email notification system! 🙂

    Best regards,

    Mikael

  42. Hi Ross!! Congratulations!
    Great plugin!! It will have a great future in the wordpress community!
    Cheers!

  43. I just say: thank you. For your time to making this awesome plugin.

  44. Also just wanted to say this plugin is perfect. Allows our clients to see the amount of work involved in their project.

    Two things I would love are being able to have the status pages private in some way so they use a password.

    Also to beable to add as many milestones as possible.

    Thanks once again! I will deffinately get you a beer in.;)

  45. Hi , first of all it is very amazing plugin i really like it , but i want to ask if it is possible to integrate it with a Paypal plugin , and ” request proposal for a project” step
    I mean : 1- the client request from you a proposal for a certain project.
    2- you price this project for the client.
    3- the client can pay you online (Paypal for example)
    4- the normal steps of your plugin (project status)
    is it possible to be like this …
    actually I have a translation office … and I need my client top submit my the task …then i quote it , when he pay the price (online ) , i translate it for him . AND he can follow up with his project and give me approval or comments on his project.

    I found your plugin useful for the follow up part .
    sorry for the long post & Thanks again for your time 🙂

    Tawfik
  46. Nice plugin. How do you find the project-list shortcode that others have mentioned? Do you have a more in-depth description of how you see each piece being used, like how do you see “holds” being used.

    Rick
  47. Hi,

    Amazing work. I need to add clients notifications by email and signature component and this plugin will be the best in net.

    What is your email? I would like to send you a beer 🙂

    Regards,
    Vitalii

  48. Pingback: Project Status Plugin for WordPress | Start a Web Design Company

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