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Why You Should Use DataTables With Your WordPress Website

Do you need to display large quantities of data on your website in searchable, sortable tables? The ideal solution is a plugin for JQuery called DataTables. With DataTables, you can display any amount of data in beautiful, user-friendly, paginated, searchable, sortable tables.

This awesome plugin is a lifesaver for anyone who needs to present large data sets to visitors. It comes with pre-made styles that blend into just about any design, but you can also customize the styles to match your website.

There are two ways to get DataTables: the stand-alone installation and the wpDataTables plugin for WordPress. Both will work on your WordPress website, although the stand-alone installation will be harder to set up and manage. It’s best to stick with the WordPress plugin so you can configure your tables easily in your WordPress back-end.

WordPress doesn’t already come with dynamic tables

If you’ve been using WordPress for web design for a while, you’ve probably noticed you can’t make searchable tables using the editor. You can put data into regular HTML tables, but when you need that data to be searchable, even the most beautiful table falls short.

On a WordPress site, wpDataTables is the easiest way to present a large amount of information to your visitors. You don’t even need to know how to write or read code to make it work at a basic level.

What you can do with wpDataTables

What you can do with wpDataTables

Here are some of the features you’ll get with this plugin:

  • Present massive data. wpDataTables is the ultimate organizational tool for presenting data. Like any table, it presents your information in columns and rows. However, the columns are sortable (ascending or descending) and the entire table is text-searchable. Visitors can start typing a keyword into the search box and the whole table will immediately filter only relevant results as the visitor types.
  • Embed media, HTML, and text. You can put a variety of data inside your tables, like images, videos, links, and plain text or HTML. You can even execute JavaScript inside a table, which means you can display images that open in a lightbox, for example.
  • Reveal additional information on click. If you have a large amount of information you want to display, you can hide that information behind a button that users click to reveal the additional information.

Presenting additional information through a pop-up will keep your table rows a uniform size, making it easier for visitors to browse and search your tables. When users want more information about an entry, they can choose to click to view more.

  • Export data. Visitors can export data after a search in PDF, CSV, Excel, or print view formats.
  • Front-end editing. Nothing is easier than editing content on the front-end.
  • Columns with pre-set formats. Create a variety of column formats, including strings, integers, dates, times, images, linked URLs, currency, formulas, and colored/styled columns.
  • Pull data from multiple sources. You can create a table that pulls data from an existing source, like an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Spreadsheet, an SQL query, XML file, or a serialized PHP array.

These are just some examples of the wpDataTables features. There are more than 60 built-in features and you can also buy addons.

Examples of common ways people use wpDataTables

Examples of common ways people use wpDataTables

You don’t need complex requirements to benefit from this plugin. In fact, even if you just need to organize a small amount of data, wpDataTables will do a better job than just about any other solution.

Here are some of the most common ways people use this JQuery plugin:

  • A list of contacts. Many businesses use wpDataTables to display a list of people along with their contact information. For example, these lists consist of employees, board members, parents, practicing physicians or dentists, etc.
  • Sports scores. Some websites keep track of sporting events and use tables to display final scores.
  • Scheduled events. When a venue hosts numerous events, a searchable, sortable table is a great way to make all the information easily accessible to visitors.
  • Software version downloads. Software developers use wpDataTables to give visitors access to information about each version, including a download link.
  • Important information. Any business with important information to share can organize the data easily using wpDataTables.

This plugin is built for organizing data, and it’s perfect for displaying whatever you need to present to your visitors.

Additional wpDataTables features

Additional wpDataTables features

While basic tables are good enough for many people, you’re not limited to basic functions. Here are just a few examples of additional features available:

  • Add new rows dynamically
  • Highlight rows and columns
  • Show or hide additional details concerning a specific record
  • Edit rows with jEditable
  • Submit a web form with elements
  • Dynamically show/hide columns
  • Callbacks
  • Use the Visualizer plugin to get additional features
  • Filter regular expressions

The difference between wpDataTables and DataTables

When you’re looking into this plugin, it can be confusing to hear the stand-alone version referred to as a ‘plugin’ since it’s not the same as a WordPress plugin. Here’s a simple explanation to help you understand the difference between the two versions.

DataTables is a JQuery plugin for JavaScript. wpDataTables is the DataTables plugin for WordPress. In other words, wpDataTables is a WordPress plugin for a JQuery plugin. In simple terms, it simplifies using DataTables within a WordPress installation.

If you’re using the stand-alone installation with WordPress, some of the additional, advanced features will require additional coding. If you need advanced features that aren’t part of the WordPress plugin and aren’t available as an add-on, hire a developer to make those customizations.

You can still use DataTables without the WordPress plugin, but it won’t be as easy. You’ll definitely need a professional website developer to help you install it and create your tables.

Take wpDataTables for a test drive

Take wpDataTables for a test drive

Although it’s affordable, this particular JQuery plugin is quite involved, so take it for a test drive to make sure it’s what you need. If you decide you like what you see and want to implement it on your website, we can set it up for you.

Website.design can get you started with wpDataTables

No matter how small or large your project is, we can help you get started with wpDataTables. If you haven’t launched your website yet, we can help you build your site from the ground up and incorporate all the plugins you need. For more information, contact our development team and we’ll be happy to discuss your project in-depth.

Ryan Nead
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