A list of WordPress themes, plugins and tools that I use and recommend.
*Note: Some of these are tools are affiliate links – they won’t cost you any more than their usual cost; and in some cases, you may get a discount.
Start your online presence by securing a great domain name. A domain name is a short, easy to remember address that you type into your browser to load a website. For example, you can easily type ‘vjdesign.com.au’ into your web browser to bring up your website. Learn how to find and register your domain name (and what to avoid during registration process).
Cost: ~$20 per year
- Google Domains is a domain registration service that offers transparent pricing, privacy protection and great email features at an affordable price. Does not offer hosting.
- SiteGround is my next option for both domain name and web hosting. Read more…
- BlueHost is my alternative option for web hosting. They offer free domain names for the first year. Learn more about BlueHost.
- Crazy Domains is OK for Australian domain names (don’t get their hosting).
- GoDaddy, Namecheap, Domain.com, others – Use them only if they come really cheap. Don’t get hosting from them. Do realise that they usually offer cheaper rates for the first year only.
Web hosting is a place to store the website files (including images). Some hosts offer tools that make managing WordPress sites easy including managed updates, staging and backups. Look for ones that offer very fast support that is available 24/7, speed technologies that make WordPress load faster and proactively protect the WordPress sites from hacks.
- Cloudways is my preferred web hosting for businesses. They are better than other hosting providers in terms of performance, security, features, support, and pricing. They provision servers from Google, Amazon Linode, Vultr, or DigitalOcean on your behalf. They focus on speed and ease of use.
- SiteGround is my next choice web hosting. I recommend SiteGround for business and online shops that require guaranteed uptime, automatic daily backups. Further, they have data centres across the world – USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Singapore and Australia. Read more…
- BlueHost is a cheaper alternative; read my review
- Zuver – If you are looking for Australian hosting seems to be ok.
- GoDaddy, Namecheap, Domain.com, others – Never use them for web hosting. Their servers are really bad. They offer cheaper rates for the first year only. Read the fine print.
- GeneratePress is my go-to theme for all of my own and client WordPress projects. Using GeneratePress, I am able to develop a custom design to fit your needs rather than fit your content to a template. Stable coding standards, use of valid HTML, structured data and being lightweight allows your sites to rank higher in search engines (SEO). It is also accessibility-ready (WCAG 2.0 standards). Learn more about My WordPress Workflow using the GeneratePress theme.
- Astra is an alternative that is popular.
WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform, it has developed into a powerful Content Management System (CMS). Want an eCommerce store? Need a CRM? – Add additional functionality to WordPress using plugins.
Plugins for Design
I don’t use any page builders like Elementor or Divi. I prefer to use the power of the default WordPress block editor (also known as Gutenberg).
- GeneratePress Premium is a plugin installed to enhance the GeneratePress theme – you get this free with my Web Design Packages. It helps me build sites without bloat.
- GenerateBlocks adds incredible versatility to your block editor (Gutenberg) without bloating it. Learn how to use just 4 blocks deeply to build anything: Container, Grid, Headline and Buttons.
- WP Show Posts to display posts anywhere on your website and make them look good.
Plugins for Development
Go beyond standard WordPress posts and pages; make it a full Content Management System (CMS). These plugins help me create a custom experience for you.
- Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) – to take full control of your WordPress edit screens. Go beyond standard WordPress title and content areas.
- Custom Post Type UI – provides an easy to use interface for registering and managing custom post types and taxonomies for your website.
- Google Site Kit – Google Analytics in your dashboard.
- Koko Analytics is a lightweight alternative. It is a privacy-friendly analytics plugin that does not use any external services, so data about your visitors is never shared with any third-party company.
- WooCommerce – Perfect eCommerce Solution for small business – Get my affordable eCommerce Package
- Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) – Simple eCommerce for selling digital files.
- Fluent Forms – my current favourite forms plugin
- Ninja Forms
- Contact Form 7 – used this for a very long time; developer focussed.
- SMTP – ensure emails get delivered
Be Social – Plugins to Promote your website
- Custom Facebook Feed
- Scriptless Social Sharing
- Social Media Autopublish
- BuddyPress – BuddyPress helps you build any kind of community website using WordPress, with member profiles, activity streams, user groups, messaging, and more.
- bbPress is forum software from the creators of WordPress. Quickly setup a place for asyncronous discussion, subscriptions, and more!
Page Speed Optimisation Plugins
GeneratePress and GenerateBlocks are extremely lightweight.
- SG Optimizer
- Fluent CRM (I use this CRM with Fluent Forms)
- sucuri security
- Akismet Spam Protection
- Really Simple SSL
- WP Armour
- WPvivid is an all in one solution for you to manage backups, restoration and migration of your WordPress websites, all for free! I use this plugin to backup my own and my client sites.
- All-in-one WP Migration exports your WordPress website including the database, media files, plugins and themes with no technical knowledge required. Use it to create regular backups, export and import the entire site including all WordPress, Theme and Plugin settings.
- Answer the public,
- Google My Business
- Google Search Console
- Screaming Frog
- Local Citations – list by WhiteSpark and do-follow citation links video
Project/Task Management Tools
Logo – A well designed logo is the face of your brand – get your logo designed by weperfectionist
Learn how to build your website using WordPress via my free WordPress 101 series. Learn how to write content (posts and pages) in WordPress using the block editor. Also, learn how to configure your site for SEO, manage menus, comments and queries.
Other wonderful resources include: LinkedIn Learning and WordPress for Beginners: Create a Website Step by Step by Brad Schiff on Udemy.