We see more and more around us that internet agencies choose WordPress as the standard CMS to build websites. We also regularly encounter starting freelancers who focus fully on WordPress. In this article we have made an overview of the best tools, techniques and plugins for the development of WordPress websites that we have mastered over the years – and which we would have liked to receive on a serving tray when we were first started working with WordPress.
- WordPress development tools
- Standard plugins
- Development plugins
- Stay informed
WordPress development tools
Over the years we have tested, used and thrown away a lot of development tools. Which are we still using today for the development of WordPress websites?
Sublime / Coda
Everyone has their own favorite text editor, but two of us stand out: Sublime and Coda. An important advantage of Sublime (Windows / Mac) is that it is very extensible, while Coda (Mac) is already nicely complete. With both editors, for example, it is possible to change files directly on the server. That makes doing a small quick adjustment very easy.
Perhaps obvious, maybe not at all. We use FileZilla every day to quickly and securely connect to the servers of our customers. Easy to use and ideal for a quick small adjustment.
With Browserstack we can virtually try a website on every imaginable device. Think of all desktop browsers on multiple Windows and OSX versions, but also all known Android devices, iOS devices and tablets. This is ideal for responsive tests, as simulations for mobile devices in desktop browsers quickly fail in the details. Browserstack also offers a Chrome extension, which allows you to simulate any web page you visit directly on another platform.
With this amazing Chrome extension, you can record a number of steps on your website (eg: “visit the homepage, click on ‘contact’, scroll down, fill out form”). The actions in these recordings are then regularly performed by Ghost Inspector. If there are deviating events (eg a page is missing, or the layout is different), you will be notified of this.
Although you can do a lot with WordPress yourself, Adobe Photoshop remains indispensable in our work. This is the favorite software package from everyone who deals with design with us.
Although every website is different, there are a few plugins that we use again for each project. That is why we install them as standard with a new project. If we do not eventually use them, they can always leave:
This visual block builder is not available separately as a plugin but is built into the Enfold theme. Very user-friendly, and offers the possibility to quickly build up content.
The most comprehensive forms plugin we know, with conditional logic, import/export function, various notifications, etc .. Many themes also take into account the styling for this plugin.
Make sure you have this plugin before you upload the first images. That way you keep everything optimized.
Reduce the spam on your WordPress website. Actually just a must-have.
Helps you to globally align your SEO settings, and to easily make changes to eg the title and meta-description per page.
There are also a lot of plugins for WordPress that facilitate the development of your website. The most commonly used plugins can be found below.
Protect your website with a password to prevent search engines and unwanted visitors from taking a look while the website is not ready yet.
Do you really have to dig deeper into the code? The debug bar adds a button to your admin bar with which you can read various server variables, warnings, errors, queries, and requests. With the Actions and Filters Addon, it is also possible to see which hooks are all triggered on a page.
This plugin offers much of the functionality that the Debug Bar also offers, but also gives the possibility to search queries in a very targeted way, for example per plugin or query type, but also slow execution.
Custom Post Types UI
With this plugin you can easily create extra custom post types. By default, WordPress already offers messages and pages, but you may need an extra mail type, for example ‘books’ for a library. If you have set the post type, this plugin must remain activated. In order to keep the number of plugins (and therefore the performance pressure) low, we therefore prefer to add post types via GenerateWP (see also below under ‘ Cheatsheets ‘).
Advanced Custom Fields
By default you have a reasonably limited number of fields at your disposal in a message, page, or custom post. Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) adds all kinds of extra possible fields here; date pickers, color pickers, taxonomy links, extra image fields, and so on. Moreover, ACF works very visually and intuitively; This way you can even prepare very complicated custom post constructions without using a line of code. The content input can therefore start very quickly. To use and display all custom fields on a page, you can use shortcodes, or modify the templates.
With this plugin you can create different filters that extend the search of messages, pages and custom posts. For example, your visitor can not only enter keywords in a search field, but also click taxonomies (categories or tags) in a drop-down or selection box to specify the search result more. Very interesting for larger databases with eg a thousand articles. FacetWP is – just like ACF – both with shortcodes and with templates to get to work.
searchwp Do you prefer to improve the standard search function in WordPress? Then SearchWP is our favorite plugin. This plugin indexes entire WordPress so that the results can be displayed faster. You can set this index according to your preferences. Choose, for example, which post types should and should not be searched, which fields in a post are important or irrelevant, or which should also be searched for words that partly correspond, and much more.
Does your website get slower and slower? Measure with the P3 profiler which plugins have the most impact on your loading time. Sometimes it helps to remove a few plugins, so your website is already faster. Another solution is to opt for ultra-fast Premium WordPress hosting.
Broken link checker
When you go live, check whether all the links on your website still work. Do you miss anything, are all external pages still accessible? You will receive an e-mail if a link no longer works. Optionally, you can even have the check carried out regularly.
Do you replace an old website with go live? The previous website has also built value in the search engines. To keep this value as much as possible, you can redirect all URLs from the old website to the corresponding pages on the new website. This costs a lot of work, but it is worth it. You can use the Redirection plugin, but in some cases also a .htaccess file. Sometimes you can redirect multiple pages with one redirection line by means of regular expressions (see also below under ‘ Cheatsheets ‘.)