How to create dynamic WordPress user lists
In this article, we’re going to discuss how you can create a dynamic WordPress user list based on different rules and attributes. We’ll go through the basics and see how dynamic lists are defined. We are also going to see which kind of user directories may be useful for your site and how to make the most out of these dynamic WordPress user lists.
The real power of these dynamic WordPress user lists relies on automation, as creating them manually can be quite time consuming and inefficient. That’s why we can make use of tools such as Users Insights to do the heavy lifting. Thus, today we’ll see some definitions about the concept of dynamic lists, how they compare to static lists, and how you can create some lists of your own.
Here are our main topics for today:
- What is a dynamic list?
- Dynamic user lists vs static user lists
- Why should I use dynamic user lists in WordPress?
- Creating dynamic lists with segments
So, let’s get right into it!
What is a dynamic user list?
The concept of a user list is rather simple. WordPress itself provides us a very simple user list, which is static since it always loads the entire dataset, with the same columns. Therefore, in that sense a user list is any form of displaying your userbase, preferably along with their custom fields.
On the other hand, a dynamic user list has its particularities. Usually they are a subset of your main user list, and loads only users who match your desired criteria. The catch here is, every time a dynamic user list is loaded, only users who match that criteria will be loaded. So, it’s a form of user list that auto updates, and may change drastically every time you request it.
Quite often, dynamic lists are used in the decision-making process. From simple decisions, like checking which users have visited your site today, to complex ones, such as gathering information about user demographics.
The main takeaway from dynamic lists is the fact that they are auto updated. In this way only the users who match the criteria when you are requesting the list are relevant for you.
Dynamic user lists vs static user lists
The definition of dynamic user lists may be clearer when we compare them to static user lists. If you are familiar with Users Insights, it’s very likely that you have both static and dynamic lists in your site.
Static user lists are stored. Therefore, when you create a static list for your users you’ll store this information somewhere for later use. This is what we do when we create user groups in Users Insights:
Here we’ve added users who have interacted with our site the most to a group. This information is now static, stored as a custom field for our users. We can retrieve the same information at all times. But this doesn’t mean that this list can’t be changed.
Static user lists can be changed as we often need to add or remove users from them (you can even do it in bulk). But their essence is different from dynamic user lists in their “runtime” aspect.
As we’ve mentioned before, dynamic lists are generated when you request them. Thus, you don’t need custom fields in your users to load them through this method. And that’s exactly what we have with the Users Insights smart filters:
This rule is going to load all users who match it. So, you don’t need to manually add or remove users in order to see the updated information, it’s there at all times.
And there’s no right or wrong when it comes to user lists. Especially with the vivacious nature of WordPress, both the static and dynamic user lists have their role.
Now it’s time to see some reasons to use dynamic lists in your WordPress site.
Why should I use dynamic user lists in WordPress?
Undoubtedly dynamic user lists can give you a whole new understanding of your customer base. They are the difference between guessing and knowing. You may think that your most active users are John and Mary. Or you may assume that most of your customers are coming from NYC. But when you load your dynamic user list you’ll know exactly what you need to.
And although the dynamic user lists aren’t stored as custom fields, using them is a great idea. You can use the default custom fields created by WordPress, or the ones created by other plugins. It’s even possible to create your own custom fields so you can use them as your filtering criteria for dynamic WordPress user lists.
Therefore, the dynamic user lists are going to complement the data you are storing in your site, by adding a “runtime” layer. You can use this always-updated aspect to gather instant information about users and trace trends. Not to mention that you can compare your current data with past information, by using both dynamic and static user lists.
Creating dynamic lists with segments
When using Users Insights, the smart filters are going to help you create dynamic user lists. But there’s another feature that makes the entire process much easier, the segments.
With the segments feature, you can save a set of smart filters and run them again later. Let’s see some examples of this feature in action.
Let’s say you want to create a new customers list. This list will contain all users registered as customers in the past 30 days. First, apply the required filters:
This is already the real-time view of your users. But you can also save this as a segment for later use:
In this way you can load again the same filter always by just clicking that rule. So, you don’t need to memorize a specific set of rules, you can just save them. You can also share them with your admin team, as the segments are available for all of the Users Insights users.
Let’s see another example. Let’s say that Developers are an important group for your site and you want to check how this segment is growing over time. So, you can create a user directory for all your users that are developers. The way you differentiate the developers from the regular users could depend on your setup. For example, you could create a custom signup form with a Job Title custom field. Then you could filter the users just by using a filter “Job title contains developer”:
If you run a site with multiple contributors, dynamic lists are useful for you as well. You can track down the most active contributors on the go, by checking their posts and comments.
You could, for example, save this list as a “Most active contributors” segment that you can load at any time.
In this article, we looked into dynamic WordPress user lists. We saw from the very basic concepts of dynamic user management to tips on how to create your own dynamic WordPress user lists. By the end of the day, you should be able to look at your own site and come up with creative ideas for filtering your users and gathering information in real time.
You could also expand this knowledge, by figuring out ways to use dynamic user lists with your own plugins. After all, you probably have a lot of custom fields and custom data you can use already.
We hope you enjoyed this article, and see you again next time!