WORDPRESS TOOLS & RESOURCES

These are the WordPress tools & resources I use for all my WordPress builds.

I’ve listed my go-to WordPress tools & resources for designing WordPress to help you in your decision making. I stand by these companies and what they offer, and can assure you I use these products every single day! The most important aspect of running a web design business is have your tools in place to simplify your builds, and create a repeatable process for all your clients. 

Full disclosure: some of the following links I get paid for recommending, which is cool, but keep in mind I only recommend these because I trust and use these. I will never recommend a product that would not be of benefit to you!

Domains

Up until a few months ago, I hosted all my domains with GoDaddy. They’re cheap, run specials periodically, and have decent support. It seems to me things are changing a GoDaddy and they are less and less like they used to be in terms of support. I never really had much of a problem with them, but we had a few different issues over the past little while that sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

I have now started using Namecheap for all my domains. The interface is very easy to use and I don’t have to worry about offers or random charges on my card, trying to figure out what all I’m paying for. I doubt $4 will make or break your decision, just know there are other options out there. Find what works best for you and move on!

Hosting

The age-old question: what’s the best hosting company? Nobody really knows. I suppose it depends on the size of your business and how much you charge your clients to host their sites. If you’re just starting out, Bluehost is a solid option. The interface is easy to use and they provide pretty good support. Their shared hosting plan is very economical and it can grow as you grow. 

If you’re a little more advanced or want better performance for yourself and your clients, then I’d highly recommend Cloudways. You can choose which cloud you’d like to host: Google, Amazon, Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, or Kyup. These are high-powered servers that many hosting companies resell. The great thing about Cloudways is it’s all managed for you, so you simply have to get used to the interface (very easy, by the way) and start cranking out your sites. Plus, you get a free SSL certificate, caching, and more built-in.

It’s also very simple to migrate your site over using their migrator plugin. If you’re searching for a new company for your growing business, I 100% recommend Cloudways.

Themes

Divi, Divi, Divi. A friend of mine turned me onto Divi from Elegant Themes and it has seriously changed my life. I can now build sites is half the time! In the past, I’ve relied on finding themes on Themeforest and honestly, it takes too much time to find the right one. Also, you have to (or legally should) purchase a license for each install, and there’s a learning curve for every theme unless you use the top themes like Jupiter or Avada. With Divi you pay $89/year (they offer a lifetime license, too) and can use on unlimited sites. Seriously, think about the time and money you will save if you find the right tool to use every time. The key to ALL of this and the main purpose of this blog is to help you streamline your process and make it repeatable!

Plugins

Yoast SEO for Search Engine Optimization. No brainer here. Easy to use and it certainly helps steer you in the right direction. Gravity Forms for all the forms. By far the best I’ve used, and the most potential for all your functionality. There is a lot of potential when you combine Gravity Forms, Gravity Flow, and Gravity Views. Free options: Contact Form 7 and Ninja Forms. I try to use as few plugins as possible on every build. If they don’t need it, don’t install it!

Analytics

Hook up Google Analytics and Search Console for every account. Even if your client isn’t signed up for marketing, it’s always good to keep track of how a site is performing. Also, analytics can be a selling point for marketing services in the future.

Maintenance

I use ManageWP to quickly and efficiently update my sites and client sites. You get most of the features free, but they do offer some more premium services. They only cost $1 or $2 per feature per month. Fairly low-cost for what they provide. It really depends on the needs of that specific client.

Security

I don’t have to tell you how important security is to your website. You already know, right? An excellent paid option is Sucuri. They do have a custom plan for agencies depending on how many sites you have. Cloudways has partnered with Sucuri to give you a discounted price and a credit depending on the package you choose. It’s a small price to pay to keep your client websites safe and clean. Plus, you pass the cost on to the client :). 

A free option that I use occasionally is the Anti-Malware plugin. It works great and quarantines malicious files. 

I’ve listed my go-to WordPress tools & resources for designing WordPress to help you in your decision making. I stand by these companies and what they offer, and can assure you I use these products every single day! The most important aspect of running a web design business is have your tools in place to simplify your builds, and create a repeatable process for all your clients. Take a look around and don’t forget to subscribe to the email list! Follow my journey to creating the best WordPress design business.
Full disclosure: some of the following links I get paid for recommending, which is cool, but keep in mind I only recommend these because I trust and use these. I will never recommend a product that would not be of benefit to you!

Domains

I use GoDaddy for 95% of my domain purchases. They’re cheap, run specials periodically, and have decent support. Also, you can forward domains for free. Companies like Network Solutions tack on another $12/year to do that, which can add up (and make things complicated) if you have to forward multiple domains. Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people using Namecheap. I haven’t personally used them, but there’s a large consensus that appreciate what they offer. At the end of the day, finding a company with an interface that you can become comfortable with can, and will, save you money in the long run.

Hosting

I recently switched my sites from GoDaddy Managed WordPress over to Bluehost’s shared hosting. I must say, the interface has certainly improved since my last experience. Setting up a new site is relatively easy. Also, you can change your caching level to your liking, which is a nice feature. As with managing domains, find a company that works best for you. The majority of these have the same features, just different ways of presenting the information to you. Try not to think too much about it. If you need to change in the future, it can be done! Side note: The best tool for migrating websites is All-in-one Migration. They offer a free version and paid (if the file size is over 512MB). It’s made my life so much easier!

Themes

Divi, Divi, Divi. A friend of mine turned me onto Divi from Elegant Themes and it has seriously changed my life. I can now build sites is half the time! In the past, I’ve relied on finding themes on Themeforest and honestly, it takes too much time to find the right one. Also, you have to (or legally should) purchase a license for each install, and there’s a learning curve for every theme unless you use the the top themes like Jupiter or Avada. With Divi you pay $89/year (they offer a lifetime license, too) and can use on unlimited sites. Seriously, think about the time and money you will save if you find the right tool to use every time. The key to ALL of this and the main purpose of this blog is to help you streamline your process and make it repeatable!

Plugins

Yoast SEO for Search Engine Optimization. No brainer here. Easy to use and it certainly helps steer you in the right direction. Gravity Forms for all the forms. By far the best I’ve used, and the most potential for all your functionality. There is a lot of potential when you combine Gravity Forms, Gravity Flow, and Gravity Views. Free options: Contact Form 7 and Ninja Forms. If I can make due with just these two plugins, I’m happy. Most of the time I can for simple informational sites. No need to bog down the site if you don’t need to!

Analytics

Hook up Google Analytics and Search Console for every account. Even if your client isn’t signed up for marketing, it’s always good to keep track of how a site is performing. Also, analytics can be a selling point in the future.

Maintenance

I use ManageWP to quickly and efficiently update my sites and client sites. Now that GoDaddy has purchased ManageWP, their version is called Sites. It works great and could be a point in GoDaddy’s favor for signing up with their hosting as they offer most of the premium features free if you host with them.

Security

I don’t have to tell you how important security is to your website. You already know, right? A good paid option is Sucuri (now owned by GoDaddy – seriously do they own everything now?). They do have a custom plan for agencies depending on how many sites you have. A free option that I use is the Anti-Malware plugin. It works great and quarantines malicious files. They do take donations for helping you 🙂

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Key components to scaling your web design business. You deserve to be happy in your career. I've put together a few critical steps for scaling your web design business and decreasing your time spent troubleshooting.

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