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I often build themes that handle a lot of text content. I use Advanced Custom Fields to create several custom field areas per page for adding this content.

I've also used themes with page builders that generate shortcodes in the content editor.

I'm wondering if it's faster or more efficient from a database querying and site speed point of view to do one or the other?

I vaguely recall hearing that having a lot of custom fields is slower to query from the database than content that's directly in a page or post's content area (the_content).

Is either method better? Thanks.

  • If there is a purpose of calling custom fields, that should be, and it should not be mixed with the_content. If something can be expressed as a content, then why with a custom field? So it's up to you and your need. – Mayeenul Islam Jan 7 '15 at 4:29
  • I use both often. I use custom fields to display content in many sections of the website, and I use shortcodes to run specific functions querying specific data that would be hard to manage with ACF (for example, a custom query). I think ACF is best for clients because of the visual element. But shortcodes provide more flexibility. – gdaniel Jan 7 '15 at 4:40
  • @gdaniel It sounds like we use both similarly. I originally came across this thought because when I build custom themes for a client I only use ACF to separately manage content areas. But for other clients I use premium themes that usually come with Visual Composer, which is essentially all shortcodes. So I was trying to figure if my themes run more efficiently when I use Visual Composer or ACF. Thanks for your input! – Mark.C Jan 8 '15 at 5:53
  • Where I work we build themes from scratch and we like to customize the backend using ACF. I think I rely on ACF too much. But it gets the job done fast. I have not had a chance to use Visual Composer yet. You might be interested in taking a look at piklist.com. It looks like a really interesting project, that allows you to build your own custom fields using their API (which works as a wrapping on the wordpress API). – gdaniel Jan 8 '15 at 15:48
  • Thank, I'll take a look. My initial concern for one or the other was whether or not the custom field method was slower to query from the database. I know using the_content (with shortcodes) would be fastest, so I worried that using a ton of custom fields could slow things down or be inefficient. It's probably a nominal difference. – Mark.C Jan 9 '15 at 20:37

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