Hey Y’all – Below you’ll find a list of some of my favorite tools for web design that my team and I use in our nerd world. I list these links (some are affiliate links) not only to help you find great resources, but also to help these great developers and companies get more exposure. Many of my students and my YouTube viewers ask how to make awesome WordPress websites. These tools listed on this page are just a peek inside of my nerd toolbox. Purchase with total confidence that my braggin’ means – these resources actually work!
Favorite WordPress Plugins
Yoast is the #1 WordPress plugin for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This free plugin is always in the budget! If you understand how to use this plugin – it’s the equivalent of having an SEO expert in the room with you looking over your shoulder holding you accountable to the content your have on your website. See our YouTube Playlist to learn more about Yoast.
New the the market and already moving to the top of my list – WS Form offers a free version as well as a premium version that comes packed with robust capabilities. The support team on this plugin will never let you down either! Super attentive and ready to help. See my tutorial for more insight.
If you like the WebTegrity Instagram feed on our site (see it here at the bottom of the page) this is the plugin I use and highly recommend. There’s something cool about taking a picture while out and about and uploading it through your phone to Instagram and it dynamically displaying on your website too! Check out this video review.
If you ever watch our YouTube channel – you know that we are HUGE fans of Gravity Forms. This is a premium WordPress plugin that can create anything from a simple contact form all the way to an advanced sign up form, registration system, product checkout, or dynamic job board. You can do so much more with it too – you just need to get creative! Learn More with our Video Tuts.
One of the most powerful WOW factors you can add to your WordPress website will be the Slider Revolution. All around this premium WordPress plugin is not only a dynamic slideshow option – it can play video on your pages, eliminate the need for Photoshop, and still be read by search engines! See More of my Tuts on the “Rev Slider.”
If you’re trying to build out pages that are more dynamic and have complex layouts – you’ll either need to know code, understand your theme author’s shortcode, or use a Page Builder Plugin – enter The Divi Builder. You can drag-and-drop to make columns, embed widgets into pages or posts, stack content, and of course all of this comes in a responsive structure too. Try it for free here.
Favorite WordPress Themes
If you’ve followed my YouTube Channel over the last few months, you know that I have found a new favorite WordPress theme called Divi. This WordPress theme offers a powerful page builder and a very simple drag and drop way of editing the pages and posts. This website is running on Divi. You can see Kori’s video on the Divi Theme Review.
This theme is also unique in that you can use the one license on unlimited websites. Amazing quality for the price.
This is still the best selling WordPress theme on Themeforest.net. It is by far one of the best WordPress themes with an extensive list of options that will take you forever to navigate through. But once you have done that, you will have a theme that not only is one of the best looking, but also is a theme that will outlast other dying themes that tend to be forgotten by their authors. WebTegrity offers an online course that will help you set up Avada in 60 mins.
Recommended WordPress Hosting
Liquid Web – Managed WordPress Hosting & Support
Liquid Web offers Managed WordPress Hosting and Support for your websites and growing freelance business. If you’re looking for a hosting company who can partner with you to provide security, knowledge, resources, and tech support – this is the team!
Liquid Web is also the main sponsor for my YouTube Channel. They also sponsor WordCamps across the world and local events.
Other Cool Tools
All of my webinars and even some times with clients for one-on-one training goes through Zoom.us. I was tired of struggling with GoToMeeting and their clunky software to install. Google Hangouts is cool, but still limiting. Zoom is web-based, and very easy to use. You can’t beat the price tag either!
Sign up for Free to Basecamp – an easy-to-use project management / client communication system. We have used this online software since day one with WebTegrity. All communication during a project build goes through here with our clients. It’s scaleable too so it can grow with your client list.
I was shown this awesome plugin by another WordPress dev team so we thought we would pass it on. MailMunch is the smart pop up window you see happening on this website that allows visitors to sign up without being annoyed by actual pop ups. It even offers a free WordPress plugin.
If you need a fast way to communicate between your growing team members – Slack is the best way to keep them in the loop. Based on the amount of your active users only – Slack is an added expense that very quickly will pay for itself. As soon as you sign up be sure to make a channel for “random gifs” and start the part with /gif Good Times!
One of the most important things you can do for your dev team is to track their time spent per task. This is going to be key in learning how to charge your customers appropriately and how to hold your team accountable too in their time spent for clients. We love Harvest and use it daily in our dev management. It’s very straight-forward and you can print a report for a client on the spot too. Did I mention there’s a free plan too?
If you’re looking for a great resource to help you optimize your own YouTube videos / channel, this is a great tool. It will help you research keywords, optimize the video content, and have a better tool for tracking conversion and comments. Kori uses TubeBuddy weekly.
No matter where you’re located in the world – there’s probably a WordCamp within a few miles from you happening at least once a year. These are typically a one to two day weekend conference where WordPress fans, developers, authors, and even Automatticians come together to discuss all things WordPress. You can attend workshops that offer clear instruction on topics for total beginner to advanced security and plugin development. See if there’s one happening soon in your home town.
Just like WordCamps – WordPress has another community event in your local area that happens more like once a month. Check over at Meetup to find a WordPress Meetup group connected in your area. For those here in the San Antonio area, you know that we always meet for free several times a month.
Folks I Follow
Live streaming each week on Mondays – you can find the always entertaining podcast of WPWatercooler happening. Our own Kori Ashton has been on their show a few times. You’ll be sure to learn something fun and cool each week.
This is where we get our WordPress “Scoop” from each week. Outstanding insight to the WP world and they’re always providing a heads up to security issues, or great plugins that are new to the market. Subscribe to the WP Tavern blog and you’ll see what we mean. You can follow them over on Twitter too for the latest.
For any WordPress freelancers or agency owners looking to grow their business strategy, I’m recommending Jennifer Bourn and her Profitable Project Plan course. It’s all about the learning curve and discovering answers to things you may not even know. Take time to join the course and improve your process.
Some Favorite Books
The title reveals some of the mystery, but the subtitle is what drew me in ? ?10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered.? The idea that you should reveal your methods, your ?behind the scenes,? your flaws, your skills and in so doing you?ll grow your brand and grow your reach. The author, Austin Kleon, is also a Texan – so you’re guaranteed to love it.
If you haven?t heard of this guy – Simon Sinek, please stop and watch his YouTube TEDx Talk. He?s extraordinary. “Start with Why” has fundamentally changed the way we approach every project we create, the language we use on the website, and even how we teach.
Another outstanding read from Simon Sinek. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don?t will not let you down. This is a challenge to everyone in leadership to inspire, to lead by example, and to grow your team by finding like-minded hearts.
Start Something That Matters
This is the Tom?s Shoes story. Really, really phenomenal. It will help you refocus your thought process and maybe even your integrity compass, inside your business. Start Something That Matters and live fulfilled.
Steal Like an Artist
Another Austin Kleon book that rocked my world. This subtitle is 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. Basic concepts on improving your creative method and challenging you to complete the tasks you dream of.