Just got off the phone with a Facebook friend in Manchester. Saz Bailey is doing some amazing things with her business and is launching a new blog to chronicle her journey to rehab a home for her handicapped son.
We discussed the ideal configuration for her new WordPress site, and that inspired me to create a short and updated post for my recommended gear.
If you want to develop your own new business site using WordPress, this is a list of recommendations that’ll get you off to the races. It’s fun!
btw…most of this gear is free. Some of it costs a few bucks. If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you know I never recommend anything I haven’t tested and used extensively here.
Recommended WordPress Themes
The two frameworks we use most often…
Headway – Easiest to use visual designer I’ve ever used. If you have a vision but don’t want to pay for professional design work, this is what you need.
Genesis – One of the best coded and well-supported frameworks on the market. You simply can’t go wrong with Genesis and one of their child themes.
Recommended WordPress Plugins
This list is in no way meant to be exhaustive. These are however, plugins I consider fundamental to nearly every install we do…
404 Redirection – This fixes any and all 404 errors in one fell swoop. Woot!
Backup Buddy – Here’s the thing…when (not if…when) your site gets busted or hacked, you’ll KICK yourself in the FACE if you don’t have a properly created back up. It’s amazing how many WP sites have no back up strategy at all. Everything on the internet breaks on occasion. If you have a backup, you can restore your site in minutes. If you don’t, it’s too late. Don’t get caught with your pants down, yo.
Bulletproof Security – Security! This blocks SQL injection and a host of other common attacks using a totally different level of security than other solutions. The most effective I’ve seen.
Contact Form 7 – For many years now…one of the best and free plugins for contact form creation.
Google XML Sitemaps – If search engine visibility is important to you, use this. Don’t ask any damn questions. Just install it 😉
Instabuilder – This gives you the tools to easily create lead capture pages, sales pages and sales funnels. Yes, there are LOADS of solutions for this these days. The next time you and I drink bourbon together (you’re buying), I’ll give you the technical explanation if you want. Haha…for real though, it’s the best on the market. That’s just a fact.
Login Lockdown – Security! Install, activate and call it a day. It blocks brute force attacks, which are the most common way thieves and other criminals get into your site for fun time.
MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer – Great solution for maximizing search visibility for the content you publish.
Revision Control – Allows finer control over the number of Revisions stored on a global & per-type/page basis. Geeky! But seriously…a lot of WP sites end up running way too slowly, and a massive database is a big part of the reason. This helps keeps stuff under control.
SEO Friendly Images – Particularly if you host a lot of images, this is just smart. It’s also friendly. For images. I’m pretty sure that’s where they got the name.
Recommended WordPress Hosting
Bluehost – I’ve been recommending these guys for almost 10 years now. One of the best start up web hosts out there. I’ll give it to you straight…if performance and uptime are CRUCIAL for you, don’t go with a hosting package with anything less than business-class VPS hosting. But Bluehost is perfect for anyone getting off the ground and cutting their teeth in the web dev arena.
RWP – I’m a partner with this company. Small business-optimized WordPress hosting. We work on a small scale and pick our clients carefully. But no one, literally, can even come close to the level of support offered here. If you’re a developer that requires full admin control over your hosting environment, this isn’t what you’re looking for. If you’re a business owner that wants your site to WORK, and you want to have a full-featured solution to ANYTHING you need for your website within arms reach, it’s the best solution on the market. I’ll take the pepsi challenge any day of the week 😉
Recommended Email Marketing Solution
Aweber – Ever since I moved to Aweber 6-7 years ago, I couldn’t imagine living without it. As soon as I got past the mental block of paying a few bucks to send email, my list started blowing up like it never had before, and my conversion rates took off as well. The right tools for the job make all the different in the world.
Ummm, how do I set all this crap up??
Hit me up. My pleasure to answer any questions you have. I can hook you up with our latest video tutorials also, showing you the whole process.
Over the years I’ve done a handful of this type of post. Every time so far I get a lot of email about stuff I’ve “missed”. No worries. Here’s the thing. I love you even if you have a difference of opinion 😉
Please do feel free to let me know your thoughts. This isn’t a end-all-be-all list. There’s no such thing. I’ve been building WP for about as long as it’s existed. I’m a marketing guy. I focus on bottom line results, performance, security and ease-of-use. That’s where I’m coming from. There’s no substitute for having a pro set you up. Sorry. There’s just not. That said, if you’re of the DIY persuasion, this list will get you up and running. And it’ll put the right gear in your hands so you can focus on marketing your biznas. Most importantly…by far…have fun!