In the course of your freelancing career you’ll run into plenty of people for every project you work on. It can be pretty hectic to keep everybody organized in your head so it’s highly recommended that you use some form of contact management system. For some of you that might be Outlook or Gmail or Thunderbird. Others might use 37signals’ Highrise or manage contacts within Basecamp and others still might use a simple notebook.
But I offer you another solution, arguably a better solution — WordPress!
Introducing WP Contact Manager
Unlike using WordPress for Project Management, contact management for WordPress has a clear-cut and nearly complete solution that is a pleasure to work with and easy to learn. WP Contact Manager is a stand-alone theme for WordPress by Artisan Themes that allows you to turn WordPress into a full-fledged contact management system. The theme can also be used in conjunction with plugins such as Members Only for keeping your contacts private, Related Posts for displaying related contacts, and Search Everything for displaying custom search options.
WP Contact Manager has a very organized and professional-looking interface, one that you would expect from a more mature commercially-developed app. The homepage displays a list of the most recently added contacts, a search form and a tag cloud.
If you click on any contact’s name you are taken to a more detailed view. You can see (and add) pretty much any information you want for your contacts — name, address, email, websites, phone numbers. Each contact also gets User Notes, which are more or less a comments section for the contact. I can imagine this coming in handy if you are collaborating with others or even just working alone and you want to keep track of the actions already taken and the next actions for the contact. Additional Notes are more permanent notes for the contact, maybe a description of how you met or why the person is important. These are added as a normal post would be in WordPress.
Using WP Contact Manager
With WP Contact Manager, a new contact can be added by clicking “Add New Contact” in the top menu of any public facing page. This will take you to the WordPress post admin. All the contact information is added using custom fields except for the Additional Notes which can be added with the WYSIWYG editor. It’s kind of quirky at first. For example, the first two contacts I added never took because I didn’t give the contact a title. I just added in the custom fields information. So, I had to type the name twice, once for the title and once for the custom fields. It’s not a big deal, just redundant.
WP Contact Manager is great. It really does get the job done and, for me at least, it is comparable to Highrise (which I love). It’s a pleasure to use and does exactly what you expect it to. There are a couple things that could be done to improve it, though.
1. Theme Options or Child Themes
I would love to see the ability to change colors and background images. Even better, maybe, would be the availability of some child themes for it. Just something to make it more slick and contemporary.
2. No WordPress Admin
It really shouldn’t use the WordPress admin for adding contacts as it’s not particularly friendly to newcomers. Adding new contacts but saying “Add Post” is confusing. I’d like to see a custom made admin page that follows the same design as all the other pages without extraneous options like the WordPress admin sidebar. It really needs an admin specifically designed for someone adding a contact.
WP Contact Manager isn’t being actively developed right now, so I don’t know when (if ever) we might see these improvements, but even without them, WP Contact Manager is one of the best solutions out there. If you haven’t given it a try, do so today!
Do you use WordPress to manage contacts? Is there a way to use it that I haven’t found yet? Let us know in the comments!
JD Bentley is a freelance designer, WordPress developer and entrepreneur. His writing can also be found at wageslaverebel.com and jdbentley.com.