WordPress Meta Box Plugin: An Unbiased Review From a Non-Developer Perspective

WordPress Meta Box Plugin

Shams Sumon August 13, 2021

19 Min Read
Category: Reviews

Meta Box is a developer-friendly, advanced custom field plugin for WordPress. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a developer to use this plugin. Yeah, it’s true that having some coding knowledge can help you to get the fullest out of this plugin. Then again, as a non-developer, there are lots of features you can take leverage from.

In this review post, we will try to find out –

  • What can Meta Box offers to a non-developer, common user
  • Which features can be more helpful for a developer
  • And eventually we will come to a decision – could it be a perfect choice for you to create custom fields as a non-developer?

So, if you’re looking for a WordPress Custom Fields plugin for your website, stick with us for this review. By the end of this post, you are supposed to make your choice if you want to use this plugin or not. Let’s start our hands-on review with the Meta Box feature list.

WordPress Meta Box Plugin Top Features at a Glance

WordPress Meta Box Plugin

WordPress Meta Box comes with both free and premium versions. Here, we have listed all the top features of Meta Box (free and pro combined).

  • Create Post Types and Taxonomies: Meta Box allows you to create and manage custom post types and custom taxonomies with UI.
  • 40+ Field Types: Meta Box supports 40+ unique field types. Like, open street maps, background, file upload (allow users to drag and drop files directly to the editor), custom HTML, key value, sidebar, video, and so on.
  • Front-end Forms: It has the ability to create front-end forms to let users submit posts and register user accounts. You can display front-end submission forms by shortcodes.
  • Custom Table: When you have a large amount of data, saving them in meta table may not work as they causes performance issue. In this case, Meta Box custom table provides you another more optimal method to store data in a separated table.
  • MB Views: As Meta Box is a developer friendly plugin, it provides a template builder (MB Views) to help them customize templates, including HTML/CSS/JS – but you have to use code.
  • Gutenberg Blocks: Meta Box helps users create custom Gutenberg blocks with any number and any type of field. But you need to have a good PHP knowledge.
  • Page Builders: Almost all popular WordPress page builders plugin like Beaver Builder, Elementor, and Oxygen support Meta Box.
  • 30+ Extensions: It offers 32 extensions as of now. Among them, some of are free, some of are premium, and some of are provided by 3rd parties.
  • Composer: Developers have to use Composer to manage libraries very frequently. Meta Box allows you to include/exclude extensions in your plugin to save your time. You can use Composer to integrate these extensions easily.

There are many more features that you will love while using the plugin. But are they worth enough to be used by a common user without any coding skills? Let’s find out!

Also Read: 10 Insightful WordPress Blogs to Follow as a Developer

WordPress Meta Box Review – From a Common User Perspective

WordPress meta box free

The free version of Meta Box plugin was launched in 2010 and is still growing at a high pace. The plugin has touched the 600,000 active installations milestone recently. And more surprisingly, this plugin has an average of 4.9/5 ratings on the WordPress plugin repository.

So, it’s time to figure out why this many people are using and loving this plugin.

Note: We have made a comparison table between Meta Box and its top competitors like Advanced Custom Fields, Toolset, and Ocean Extra in the later section of this blog. So, don’t forget to check that out.

Ease of Use 

As we said earlier, Meta Box is a developer-friendly WordPress plugin. So, when you are going to use it for the first time, there’s a good chance that it won’t be a smooth journey for you. However, after getting acquainted with this plugin, nothing would feel more useful than Meta Box for creating custom fields.

Meta Box is designed to be very modular and each type of functionality is separated into different extensions. This way you only install what you need, and save on memory and storage. Also, many of the Meta Box features can be accomplished with code, and the modularity and support for code make Meta Box a favorite for developers.

So, if you’re a developer, Meta Box is a 10 on 10 choice for you. And if you are a non-developer, it would take some time to get used to this plugin.

Speed and Performance Test

Meta Box is speedy and supercharged with quickly implementable codes and no complicated plugin options or admin pages. After installing the Meta Box core plugin (which is free), you will find no admin pages.

If you are planning to buy the premium package, there are lots of extensions available to extend the functionalities. Instead of buying the whole package, you can get extensions individually so you don’t have to waste money on extensions that you don’t want. This tactic also reduces the footprint and the resource requirements of the plugin.

According to WP Hive plugin data, Meta Box’s average memory usage is 47.9 KB which is less than almost 99% of plugins. And the average page loading time of the Meta Box plugin is 0.04s which is faster than 99% of plugins.

Meta Box WP Hive Test

So, we can safely say that Meta Box is a lightweight and super-fast WordPress plugin.

Meta Box Builder

The Meta Box Builder is a premium extension. It is perhaps the coolest extension developed for this plugin. The common users use this extension extensively because; unlike the other extensions, it allows them to add custom fields without knowing PHP. That means you can dig in and build a custom text field or even a Gutenberg block without writing a single line of code.

Meta Box Builder Extension

Instead of using the online code generator on the Meta Box website, you can use this add-on to create the code from within your website using the drag-and-drop meta box builder interface. It allows you to drag in any of the 40+ field styles and customize them to the content of your heart. The builder is fully compatible with all other extensions of the Meta Box.

Meta Box Custom Post Type

MB Views is another popular and powerful premium extension of Meta Box. This extension gives you a way to create custom post types and custom taxonomies for your website. Now you’re no longer limited to only publishing posts or pages on your site.

MB Views Extension

With MB Views, you can just select fields you want to show, fill in some parameters, and done! The extension supports all custom fields built with Meta Box, and also post fields (such as post title and post content), site settings, user fields, and even query fields.

By editing the default template of MB Views, users can also add custom CSS and JavaScript directly from the view code editor.

Work with REST API

MB REST API is a free extension for the Meta Box plugin that is designed to pull the values (meta value) of all custom fields from posts, pages, custom post types, terms in the meta box response of the WordPress REST API. This extension works with both posts (including pages and unique post types), words (requires and is compatible with the MB Term Meta extension), and users (requires MB User Meta).

Meta Box Rest API

The extension is very useful when creating applications, WordPress themes using REST API, enabling you to access more posts and terms information. By default, such data is not returned by WordPress. All metadata in the Rest API answer is automatically pulled and put in a meta box button. There is nothing to customize or script. Simply install it and use it.

Support and Documentation

Meta Box offers extensive support and documentation for both free and premium users. The documentation is neatly organized. Code examples are given whenever appropriate and all field options are mentioned.

Users of the free core plugin can ask for support via the Github repository or through the discussion forums on the official WordPress Plugin Directory. However, if you want to guarantee that you’ll receive assistance from the MetaBox.io team, purchasing one of the premium add-ons will give you access to their support channels.

Meta Box Alternatives – Comparison Table 

Meta Box Custom Field Comparison

We have selected the closes competitor of Meta Box; Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), Toolset, and Ocean Extra to make a comparison table. These are the top WordPress custom field plugins. So, after checking this comparison table, it should be easy for you to pick the best one.

Meta BoxAdvanced Custom FieldsToolsetOcean Extra
Ease of Use5/55/54/54/5
User Interface 5/54/53/54/5
Memory Usage409.37KB528.51KB*404.89KB
Page Speed0.41s0.8s*0.33s
Free VersionYesYesNoYes
Active Installs600K+1M+*700K+
Doc & Support5/55/54/54/5
Pricing/Year$99 for unlimited website$49 for one website$69 for one websiteFree

Here * means, Toolset has no free version. That is why we couldn’t show you memory usage, page speed, active installations, and user ratings.

Memory usage and page speed insights are compared using WP Hive Plugin Comparison feature. This feature only works with the free plugins as of now.

Meta Box Premium Pricing Plans 

Meta Box has three different pricing plans as of now to offer. Starting from $99 and ranging up to $499, every successive plan is loaded with more power-packed features than the preceding one.

Meta box pricing plans

In case you feel like their tools are not working for you the way they proposed, then you can also claim your money back through their 14-days refund policy.

Take Me To The Meta Box Pricing Plans

WordPress Meta Box Tutorial – Create Your First Custom Field  

Installing Meta Box is like installing some other WordPress free plugins.

You need to access your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins and click on Add New button at the top of the page, then enter “Meta Box” into the search box. You continue to click Install and wait for the plugin to be downloaded.

How to install meta box plugin

After that, the Activate button will appear. You need to click on this button to complete the installation process.

The fastest way to getting started with Meta Box is using the online generator to generate meta boxes with custom fields. The online generator provides a powerful and friendly UI for you to create meta boxes and custom fields just by drag and drop fields.

  • To create your first custom field, click on the Go To Online Generator.
Meta box online generator
  • Add fields that you need
Add Fields on Meta Box
  • Edit the settings for the meta box
Meta box settings
  • Click button Generate Code to get the code
Generate code
  • Copy the below code and paste into your theme’s functions.php file.
add_filter( 'rwmb_meta_boxes', 'your_prefix_register_meta_boxes' );

function your_prefix_register_meta_boxes( $meta_boxes ) {
    $prefix = '';

    $meta_boxes[] = [
        'title'   => esc_html__( 'First custom field ', 'online-generator' ),
        'id'      => 'untitled',
        'context' => 'normal',
        'fields'  => [
                'type' => 'button',
                'name' => esc_html__( 'Button', 'online-generator' ),
                'id'   => $prefix . 'button_83z3xa1ccxo',
                'type' => 'email',
                'name' => esc_html__( 'Email', 'online-generator' ),
                'id'   => $prefix . 'email_qlyuz6dk4ec',
                'type' => 'number',
                'name' => esc_html__( 'Number', 'online-generator' ),
                'id'   => $prefix . 'number_074wc30uuqvd',
                'type' => 'url',
                'name' => esc_html__( 'Url', 'online-generator' ),
                'id'   => $prefix . 'url_7v5z03foq2m',
                'type' => 'date',
                'name' => esc_html__( 'Date', 'online-generator' ),
                'id'   => $prefix . 'date_leac096acze',

    return $meta_boxes;
  • To access function.php file, go to Appearance > Theme Editor > Theme Functions (function.php).
  • Paste the code and click Update File button.
Function.php file

Now go to Posts > Add New to see the result.

Congratulations! You have just created the first custom field for your WordPress website using the Meta Box plugin.

Our Verdict – Who Is Meta Box For

As we proposed earlier, that we would find out if Meta Box could be the perfect choice for you to add custom fields. After coming this far, what do you think? Would you like to suggest Meta Box for your non-developer fellow?

Meanwhile, let us tell you what we think of Meta Box.

If you have a basic knowledge of PHP and CSS, you don’t need to go for another Custom Fields plugin. This decade-old plugin is simply the most featureful plugin.

On the contrary, if you are about to start working with custom fields, you’re probably the type of WordPress user who does not fall into the target audience of this tool. However, the extensions that Meta Box offers will surely help ease up the work process.

As we have seen in this Meta Box review, this plugin has so many features to offer for a non-techy person. On top of that, it has extensive support and documentation to help you out in your every situation. And if that is not enough, there is a whole community of users ready help you out.

Feel free to express your feedback through the comment box below.

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Shams Sumon

Shams is a content writer with a passion for making WordPress topics easy to understand for everyone through conversational and storytelling approaches. With a background in the WordPress industry since 2019, he has developed a knack for breaking down complex technical concepts into digestible bites. When he's not crafting engaging content, Shams can be found watching football matches, catching up on the latest movies, or exploring new destinations to rejuvenate himself.

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