I wanted to veer off the beaten path a little bit today. There are so many domain name investors who are also interested in developing websites. Being that WordPress is such a powerful CMS, I wanted to share with you a few of the themes and plugins that I have discovered along the way that have made developing a much better experience.
Before you start, you should know that your website can only be as powerful as your hosting. I always recommend WPEngine. Not only do they have the best customer service I’ve ever experienced, their platform is legendary. And in my personal opinion, they are the best solution for WordPress hosting. I use it for every single site I ever make. They have built in page caching, object caching, CDN, SSL, Backups, and so many other features that make it the best host I’ve ever found for WordPress. Most importantly, their dashboard is very intuitive, making the entire process a great experience.
Moving along. Once you have the proper hosting, you need to focus on the Themes and Plugins. Here are my top choices.
*I am not a professionally trained developer by any means. I don’t have any coding school background, or any real academic experience with development(although I’ve taken a few SEO courses). However, I have learned a lot on my own and I do know just enough about WordPress, CSS, and on page SEO to be dangerous.
When choosing a theme, you have to be really careful. Sometimes, they can create a whirlwind of problems from plugins not playing well with it all the way to later down the line when you are optimizing your site for speed. You have to ensure you install a properly coded, clean, and functional WordPress theme. Wether you are a domain blogger, investor, or just plain enthusiast, you can benefit from these themes. There listed in no particular order:
Genesis Framework + StudioPress Themes
I really do not have enough words to describe the Genesis Framework and StudioPress. It is truly the ultimate WordPress solution. And a best themes list wouldn’t be a good one without at least mentioning them. If you have some CSS wits about you, you can get really creative with one of these themes. This is the best, fastest, and smoothest solution you will find across the board when it comes to speed, SEO, and simplicity.
Learn more about the Genesis Framework, you’ll be quickly enamored by all it’s features. Let alone all of the different themes you gain access to on their platform.
With over 43,000 sales, the Salient WordPress theme is without a doubt one of the smoothest, most reliable themes there is. They have a highly intuitive theme panel that is incredibly easy to use and navigate. Amongst other back-end features, you also gain access to Visual Composer, which is one of my favorite page builder plugins.
Salient is also a highly responsive, and retina ready theme. The theme looks impeccable on every device. The theme comes packed with 1,000+ icons, including SVG animations, unlimited colors, and over 600 fonts to choose from. You will be pretty much setup to create a unique website every time with this theme.
This theme is probably best for a brokerage company who is looking to also show off their portfolio a bit.
Heap is ridiculously cool looking. It’s modern, hip, quirky, and most importantly, super fast right out of the box. This theme is best for a personal blogger. Someone who likes to post multiple times per day can really benefit from the masonry style of this theme(you can change it to standard as well).
They has a powerful theme options panel, super clean code, is highly SEO friendly, and on top of that, they even provide you with ALL of the available PSD files for theme. One of my favorite themes to date.
Domena is a rather simple solution. I would recommend this for the person who has a few domain names they want to create a landing page for. There are numerous companies in our industry that offer parking/landing pages, but if you want to host your own, this is your best option (aside from customizing another theme).
Sparkle theme is essentially a theme designed for content and eCommerce. This is by far my favorite content theme. I even used it on Raindrop.com (not even close to it’s full ability). They have a ton of cool features. From a review system, live blogging feature, eCommerce ready, to a comprehensive theme options panel. Quite possibly the best content theme I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Especially since they throw so many cherries on top. I really dig how easily optimizable this theme is too. Great pick in my opinion.
Now that you have a theme for your company, your blog, your domain, and your content sites, you need some plugins to help things out a bit. For example, I actively run 16 or so plugins on the Zandibot website. I love plugins, but only a handful are necessary in my opinion. Here are my favorite plugins.
Hands down my favorite plugin on the planet. Optimizing CSS, JS, and HTMl are THE foundational steps to a speedy website. Optimizing a website is already tough enough, with Autoptimize, you can optimize your site with more ease. Autoptimize states that it “concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head and can move scripts to the footer. It also minifies the HTML code itself, making your page really lightweight. There are advanced options and an extensive API available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific needs.”
Must have in my opinion. In fact, I may dedicate a whole post to this plugin soon.
Yoast WordPress SEO
This is a must have for any serious content marketer, web developer, and website owner. If your SEO game isn’t on point, you are losing out on a ton of search engine traffic. With Yoast WordPress SEO, you can fine tune your website with precision. I love it, and never install a site without it. To learn more about using the plugin, read their WordPress SEO Tutorial here.
For all of your picture hoarders, this plugin is for you. Generally, when I upload a picture, I put it in photoshop, size it, export it, use Compressor.io to compress it, then upload it to the site. All the while WP Smush gives it that final bit of compression that is needed. Making all of my images on my website lightweight, increasing site speed.
You can set WP-Optimize to clean up your database on a regular basis. From cleaning up post revisions (which if you have an older, larger site can take up a TON of space and bog your site down), down to removing spam comments for your automatically. This plugin is a must have.
Last thing anybody wants is to get hacked. Protect your WordPress install, and do it all in one-click… Read their site for more information, this is a must have plugin.
Google Webfont Optimizer
Best said by the plugin developers “Google WebFont Optimizer finds every Google Fonts request, bulks them all together so your website only asks Google once for the fonts, instead of multiple times.”
This is sometime that last remaining few percent of site speed that you need to rank well with Googles PageSpeed, and as a whole.
BONUS: Elegant Themes
I love their themes, and their plugins. I currently use their social plugin and love it. Take a look through their themes, you may find something else that you like. They have some very clean, fast, and efficient themes/plugins!
These are just some of my favorites, and happen to be my most used themes and plugins, and I wanted to share them with you. Again, I am not a professional developer, I just happen to be just dangerous enough. Do your due diligence, check out all the best marketplaces, and pick the best, most quality themes and plugins you can find.
If you want to share your favorite themes and plugins, please do so in the comments below!