When it comes to WordPress, the platform has really evolved. From being used to develop mere blogs, this platform is now capable to run just any kind of website, be it business, photography, video or ecommerce site. Possibilities are nearly endless with WordPress, and with each new release, a new feature is added or an existing feature is improved.
Being a WordPress user from a long time, i have come across many different tools, services and resources for WordPress. That’s why in this article, I will try to present only the best WordPress tools and resources that are worth trying out. Those who are new to this WordPress will particularly find this list as very interesting.
Best WordPress Plugins
There are thousands of plugins at the official WordPress.org plugin repository, and sometimes finding the one that just works is a difficult task. So let’s take a look at some of the best plugins for your WordPress site.
Gravity Forms: Gravity Forms is the best plugin to create forms, not just simple contact forms, but even the advanced ones. With this plugin, you can build and publish forms in just minutes. Just select your fields, configure your options and embed the form on the post or page. Apart from that, you can also extend Gravity forms to integrate with several popular web applications and services such as PayPal, Stripe, MailChimp, Aweber, etc.
Contact Form 7: If you’re not thinking to spend money on a forms plugin, then Contact Form 7 is what you should try. This plugin can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents with the help of simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and more.
Digg Digg: Digg Digg is a plugin developed by the creators of Buffer app. It is an all-in-one social sharing plugin that can display social sharing buttons such as Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, Google +1, and many more. You can display these buttons on a floating bar, or at the top or bottom of the post.
WordPress SEO by Yoast: Your content is great, but apart from that, you also need a good SEO plugin. This plugin has a page analysis feature that analyses your page for better SEO, and apart from that, it also has XML sitemaps, RSS optimization, Breadcrumbs, social integration and many such functionality built-in for a fully SEO optimized site.
Pretty Link Lite: This plugin is only for those who are into affiliate marketing, and others might want to skip this. This plugin basically cloaks affiliate links, replaces keywords with affiliate link throughout the blog, tracks how many times the link is clicked, and more.
WP Super Cache: WP Super Cache is a very fast caching plugin for WordPress that creates static HTML files from your dynamic blog. In simple terms, it will help you to improve the loading speed of your WordPress site.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP): If you’ve got a blog on your WordPress site, then this plugin will help you to show related content with thumbnails on your site. It aims to increase page views and offers a better user experience for your site visitors.
Soliloquy: Are you thinking to add a responsive slider to your site? Then Soliloquy is what you should try. It claims to be the fastest slider plugin that uses a hybrid technique called dynamic asynchronous ajax preloading.
WooCommerce: If you’re going to sell any products (whether physical or digital) on your WordPress based site, then WooCommerce is what you should definitely give a try at. It is perhaps the best ecommerce plugin out there for WordPress platform.
Easy Digital Downloads: This plugin enables you to sell digital products on your site. Best of all, it’s a free plugin developed by Pippin Wiiliamson. You can accept payments through a many different payment processors like Stripe, PayPal and more.
BackupBuddy: Your WordPress site is precious, and that’s why it is very much essential that you regularly backup your data. BackupBuddy is the best way to schedule automatic backup of your site to Amazon, Dropbox, Rackspace, FTP, and Email. It not only helps in backing up your site but also helps in moving your site to another domain or web host.
UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration: While the above plugin is a paid one, this one is a free plugin. This plugin allows you to backup your site to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, FTP, SFTP and email. Learn how to backup WordPress using UpdraftPlus Backup and Restore plugin.
WP Optimize: An optimized database is very important when it comes to WordPress because that’s where posts, pages, comments, users and such stuff is stored. As a site grows, the size of database also increases and gets accumulated with spam comments, post revisions, pingbacks and trackbacks. Here’s how you can cleanup and optimize WordPress database using WP Optimize.
Akismet: Spam comments are a major headache for many blogs. That’s why, Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not. You can then manually delete all the spam comments, or restore comments that are not spam.
Premium WordPress Themes
Poorly coded themes can cost you a ton. That’s why if you want a good theme with good support, then you should try to get a premium WordPress theme. But this doesn’t mean that free themes are not of good quality, and not should be tried out. You can find many such free good quality free themes from the official WordPress themes library from here.
Elegant Themes: Elegant Themes develops some of the most beautiful themes, and they have been in this business from a long time. For just $69, you can get access to all of their 87 premium themes and many different plugins.
StudioPress: All StudioPress’s themes are built on the popular Genesis Framework. Its the same framework that I use here on BeginWP and recommend to many users. Apart from being a solid, customizable and developer friendly framework, it allows you to install the framework on unlimited websites with lifetime support and updates.
Headway Themes: Headway is basically a drag and drop theme for WordPress. It allows you to easily create different layouts by just dragging and dropping different elements. It can be said as targeted towards mostly DIYers.
WooThemes: WooThemes offers premium WordPress themes for a variety of different uses like magazine, portfolio, business and such, and also offers themes for WooCommerce.
Themify: Themify provides beautiful responsive, drag and drop WordPress themes. Their framework allows for quick customizations to themes without having to touch code.
Apart from them, there are many other theme providers, but I have personally used themes from many of these providers and can vouch for their quality.
Official WordPress Help
WordPress Codex: WordPress Codex is the official help resource for anything and everything related to WordPress. You’ll here learn stuff like how to install WordPress, play with the Dashboard and developers will also be able to learn how to develop themes and plugins. This resource is surely worth checking out.
Support Forum: There’s also an official support forum, just in case if you have any WordPress related problems. Many plugin and theme developers also remain very active here, to answer questions related to their products.
Make WordPress: This official site is specially for developers who want to help in the development of WordPress. If you want to get involved in WordPress, this is the place to be.
Best WordPress Hosting Companies
WebSynthesis – WebSynthesis claims to be superfast and secure WordPress Hosting, coupled with content marketing and SEO tools. Owned by the CopyBlogger Media, the same guys who have also developed Genesis Framework, even though they are new to the WordPress Managed Hosting scene, their service has only gained good words from many users. Their plans start from $47 per month for a single site.
WP Engine – WP Engine is the most popular name when it comes to Managed web hosting for WordPress. Their support and security is very good, and in fact, they claim that if your WordPress site is hacked, then they will fix it for free. One-click backup and restore option is also present at no extra cost. Plans start from $29 per month for a single site.
Pagely – Pagely claims to be the most scalable WordPress Hosting platform, and it’s powered by the Amazon cloud. Pagely allows you to easily switch to different plans, or add an a-la-carte resource for increasing the capacity of your current plan. Their plans start from $24 per month for one site.
MediaTemple – MediaTemple offers shared web hosting as well as Premium WordPress Hosting. It’s Premium WordPress Hosting is fast, powerful and optimized for WordPress. Their plans start from $29 per month for one site.
SiteGround – SiteGround is perhaps the most affordable Managed WordPress Hosting provider, as their plans start from $3.95 per month for one website. If you’re just starting out, and don’t want to spend much on hosting, then their “StartUp” plan is perfect for WordPress beginners, and it offers 10GB of web space, unlimited data transfer and free domain name.
Best WordPress Tools & Services
ManageWP: With ManageWP, you can manage all your different WordPress sites from one single dashboard. If you’re a web developer, marketer or small business and managing multiple sites, then you’ll find this tool as very handy.
Sucuri: Sucuri detects, cleans and prevents your website from various threats. Think of this as a security service that will keep your site safe.
VaultPress: VaultPress, from the creators of WordPress, is a backup service for your WordPress based site. It not only takes backup, but also scans your site for increased security.
MaxCDN: There are many CDN services out there, but MaxCDN is very easy and simple to use. It offers many features such as instant purge, real time monitoring and configuring it too with WordPress is very easy. If you are really serious about the loading speed of your site, then a CDN like this will speed up your site.
WPMail.me: WPMail.me is a free WordPress newsletter, delivered to your email once a week. It consists of WordPress news and articles, plugin and theme news, tutorials and podcasts and videos. It’s worth subscribing if you love WordPress.
WP101: If you think that learning WordPress by reading blogs or books is boring, then you should try learning with the help of video tutorials created by WP101. These online WordPress training videos are targeted towards beginners, and are a quick and easy way to learn WordPress.
Easy WP Guide: If you’re a beginner then you’ll love the WordPress manual available at the Easy WP Guide. Basically this manual explains how you can get starting with WordPress, and doesn’t include any coding stuff. You can download the PDF and read it offline also, and best of all, this manual is updated everytime a new version of WordPress is released.
GenerateWP: Are you a developer? Then GenerateWP is perhaps the most easiest and fastest way to create custom code for your next WordPress project. You just have to select which generator you want to use, fill out the form and then copy the ready made code to your project. It offers different generators like taxonomy, shortcodes, sidebar, post type, toolbar, plugin readme generator and many others.
The easiest and the fastest way to create custom and high quality code for your WordPress project using the latest WordPress coding standards and API’s
Best Books on WordPress
Books are a great source of knowledge. If you too want to learn WordPress inside out, then you can refer to below books.
Digging Into WordPress: Digging Into WordPress is available in two formats, print and PDF. The book teaches you how you can get the most out of WordPress in an easy language. Apart from the book, you will also get full access to the members area at DigWP site, and access to all the exclusive themes, and support.
WordPress for Web Developers: This book starts from the WordPress basics, and then moves deeper. It shows you WordPress server administration, including domain mapping, security, and importing and migrating. The book then steps up a gear with an introduction to developing for WordPress, perfect for developers and designers with some PHP experience, who want to learn to create custom themes and plugins.
Smashing WordPress – Beyond the Blog: Want to know how to build just about anything in WordPress? Then in this book you will discover how to use WordPress as a CMS to power fully-fledged websites, forums, photo galleries, eCommerce sites, and much more. You get step-by-step instructions on developing different sites from the ground up and how to utilize and build plugins that let you take WordPress to the next level. It also covers how to use custom post types, custom taxonomies, loop and more.
Hope you find this list of best WordPress resources as helpful. Do you have any other suggestions that I may have missed? Do let me know via the comments section below.