The Story of Adminimize: From the Plugin Idea to 2 Million Downloads

"It's the normal (everyday) madness that gives people the most creative ideas."

In this post, we celebrate 2 million Adminimize downloads together with Inpsyder Frank Bültge. The Plugin allows users to reduce the WordPress backend to their own wishes to give different user roles a good overview. Frank tells in an interview how the Plugin was created and what motivates him as a Plugin developer.

What is Adminimize?

Adminimize offers the possibility to hide certain parts of the WordPress backend and thus provides a better overview. The Plugin solves a very central problem of WordPress: The cluttered backend. Private users and bloggers as well as commercial users have big problems here. 

Adminimize is interesting for all kinds of users. Most users keep an overview of very complex websites with many different user roles through Adminimize. An example: Two people work on the content of the same website. They have the same rights, but one person only works on blog posts while the other person creates content for static pages. With Adminimize, you can hide those parts of the menu in the backend that are not relevant for the work of the respective person. Adminimize does not replace any security or authorization concepts. The goal is simply a better overview.

How did you get the idea for Adminimize?

The original idea is from Erik Meyer. I was working as a web developer at that time and wanted to find a solution for a client that would make it easier for the users of the site to see what’s important for their role. They should only see what they need.

When I was looking for a solution, I came across Erik’s work. Erik had a very similar goal, namely to adapt the backend for a better overview, but not by reducing or hiding unwanted elements, but by changing the menu structure. I contacted him and developed the basis for today’s Plugin based on his code. The name Adminimize came from Erik. In 2008, I released the Plugin and made it available to the community.

The advantage of Adminimize was and is that it provides many options for customization and is very compatible with other Plugins or newer WordPress versions. This makes it less maintenance intensive than other solutions. And that was my goal. I wanted a simple solution that works in very different WordPress environments because every WordPress backend is different.

Could you have imagined that Adminimize would become so successful?

I don’t think about things like that at all. I build things because I or someone else needs a solution to a problem. It’s the normal (everyday) madness that gives people the most creative ideas.

What was your motivation?

Like in crafting – one of my favorite hobbies – you see a result right away when developing. You have created something by your own efforts. That motivates me a lot.  

Creating Plugins was always interesting for me because of the great learning effect. Especially when you see something that you developed a few years ago, you realize that you have learned a lot and would perhaps do some things differently today. It is like a piece of furniture. The first homemade shelf is a little crooked here and there. The more you have built, the better the result will be.

How has Adminimize developed over time?

In the beginning I solved the hiding of the unwanted WordPress areas statically. Step by step, I added more options for customization.

Especially these options have grown over time and the Plugin has become much more dynamic from the first idea until today. Every user has different user roles, Plugins and menu items in the WordPress backend. To make Adminimize work well for everyone, the backend menu is first read by the Plugin. It recognizes, so to speak, the respective menu structure and then gives the user the option to hide the available areas at his own discretion. Menu items that cannot be read out because they were not implemented according to WordPress standard can be added via custom settings and thus also hidden with Adminimize.

What motivated you to keep the Plugin alive for so long?

To be honest, it’s not always easy. I myself have not used Adminimize for a long time, because I simply don’t need it for my work anymore. But there are so many users in the WordPress community for whom I want to maintain the Plugin. 

But I do not always have enough time alongside my work. Fortunately, Adminimize is a community product. That’s why the community has the chance to improve it and to provide support to each other. I would be glad about every help. The code is available for free: There is also an unfinished refactored version: