Resources And Tools

People often ask me what are the main tools, resources and sites that I use to build small business websites and where I learn how to keep up with developing trends.  I thought I would make a quick helpful list of my favorite resources that make my job much easier.

I Want to disclose that I do make a small commission at no extra cost to you from some of my recommendations if you click through my links and sign up for the services.  I appreciate the support and gestures like that keep me motivated with updating content on this site and help pay some of my bills.  Cheers!

Start here arrow

 

BlueHost has been a reliable, cost effective hosting option with great customer support to guide you through in the beginning. Over 3 million sites hosted there for a reason. Start your business website off on the right foot with BlueHost hosting.
WordPressWordPress is the most popular website design tool used today. The no coding required element makes it super easy to build your small business online presence. When you signup with BlueHost, they already have a one click WordPress install option. Did I mention that WordPress is free? There are also several "upgraded" themes and plugins that you can purchase but most sites (like this one) were built with free WordPress tools.
Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is the number one tool to monitor traffic and pretty much any metric you can think of for your website. It's free and full of information to help you continually improve the way you serve your customers online. There is a small learning curve at first that will require some youtube video time perhaps. I must admit that I often catch myself spending way too much time watching live traffic on some of my busy sites.
Google Search ConsoleGoogle Search Console formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools is another great free tool that gives you information such as what other sites are linking to you, what key words people are typing in to find you, and will notify you if you need to fix any errors. There are many other useful features including the ability to have Google search your site right after you added fresh content, but I do not have enough room here to list them all.

My Ten Must Have Free WordPress Plugins

Not all WordPress plugins are created equal.  When choosing a new plugin to use in WordPress, I will make it pass through the following three filters.

  • Several Users:  I would be hesitant to load a new untested plugin on my site for fear of loading a malicious script on to my server.  Even Apple has had virus loaded apps make it to the App store; WordPress is no different.  I look for a minimum of 5000 users before I will test out a new plugin.
  • Review Rating:  We have all grown to trust reviews.  I look for a star rating of four out of five or higher and at least 40 reviews.
  • Last Update:  If the plugin is not being updated on a regular basis then once again you are opening yourself up to risk of an expired script that might lead to your site being an easy target to script kiddies.
jetpack pluginJetpack is the Swiss army knife of plugins. It has countless features that you can enable in your WordPress dashboard.
autoptimize pluginAutoptimize is a great plugin for improving your page speed score on the Google Page Speed Test. Give it a try, if your page speed results do not improve, then simply uninstall it. It improved my scores dramatically on many of my sites.
Contact Form 7 pluginContact Form 7 makes creating a contact form or any other custom form for that matter easy. I have made complex questionnaires in minutes with this easy to use plugin.
limit-login-attempts-pluginLimit Login Attempts is one of my favorite security plugins. If a hacker or bot tries to login to your admin panel by guessing at your password, they will be locked out after four unsuccessful attempts. Many websites are compromised using bots to randomly generate thousands of common password combinations.
TablePress PluginTable Press makes inserting tables or columns into your WordPress site a breeze. Aligning text and images just right can be a challenge at times in WordPress, however this tool has made it possible for non coding schmucks like me to make attractive layouts without the use of CSS. This two column article you are currently reading was built using Table Press.
WP SmushWP Smush will automatically optimize your images for you when you upload them. What does that mean? I am not talking about removing red eyes or adjusting the brightness for you, I am talking about image size. Most slow responding websites are the result of too many resources to load each time the page is requested from the server. If you want to load that 2 Mb photo from your iPad onto your website, WP Smush will reduce it to a much smaller file size without reducing the quality. For those of you without Photoshop, this is a great tool.
WP Super Cache PluginWP Super Cache will reduce load on your server and increase the speed of your business website by creating .html files on your server and reducing the amount of .php file requests. I know, nerdy, geeky stuff that you do not really need to know. Over a million WordPress sites use it for a reason, better performance.
Yoast SEO PluginYoast SEO is an important plugin to help you optimize for the search engines. It is not a simple plugin that you install, and then boom, you are number one on Google. Nothing like that exits by the way. You will have to do some research to set it up properly and if you do, it will help you rank higher for sure. You might want to check out my section on search engine ranking tutorial.
Add To Any Share Buttons PluginAdd To Any Share Buttons is the social sharing plugin that I choose. It features all of the popular social media option you can think of and allows you to choose small, medium, or large icons and where you would like to place them. I typically place them at the bottom of each page and article with a slight nudge to share my content if they found it useful. A few button clicks and this helpful tool will be automatically inserted for you each time you publish new content.
Acunetix WP Security PluginAcunetix WP Security plugin will scan your WordPress setup and make helpful suggestions to lock your site down and help keep intruders out.

Free Images

There are several free image sites out there if you do a search but the best one I have found is called Pixabay.com.

I feel it is the best simply because of it's great search feature.

 

When I want to make cool graphics or add text to pictures, the best free tool out there is Canva.com.

 

If I need to resize or crop images, the free tool I use is Pixlr.com.

 

The best free logo and icon site I know of is logomakr.com.