Ever felt lost not knowing what to do once your WordPress and theme are installed on your hosting? It might feel like you lack instruments to start making progress with your website.
Worry no more. I’m here to tell of all the WordPress tools you need in order to use your new site to its full capacity.
Tools to easily work with front end
First comes the stuff you turn to each time you need to make some quick fix or locate and eliminate the source of an annoying issue.
- Here are the cases to use them in:
- Editing and creating CSS rules to tweak styles of your website;
- Debugging errors in your files and finding the way to fix them;
- Reviewing the source code of your pages;
- Analyzing network usage and performance;
- Locating where you can edit some piece of content you have no idea where you put;
The list goes on. But trust me, Firebug and Inspector, depending of your preferred browser, will become one the most often used tools for the WordPress site you maintain.
Simple text editor
As a website owner you’ll find yourself in need of a simple text editor at some point. And opening a Google doc each time you need to put something down just isn’t the most efficient way to go.
I use Notepad++. It’s light and super quick. It’s as good for writing code as it is for storing any kind of info. It doesn’t lose unsaved data, it doesn’t require much ram, it’s just there for you.
Same holds for Sublime editor + even if you write the simplest HTML or CSS in it, it’ll look like Tony Stark’s code
Website files management
The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the quick way you put files on your server, get them from there, customize them and replace. The benefit of FTP compared to Cpanel is that it’s always on your desktop and you don’t need to open it in your browser. Also, it’s a lot easier to search and manage website’s files with FTP.
Website testing environment
You should never install software or edit code of your website while it’s live. For these needs it’s recommended to have a backup running somewhere in a private non-indexed subfolder on your hosting or simply use localhost for development needs.
I can hear you thinking:”Why would I need my website on my computer, where only me and my mother can see it?” Well, because it doesn’t depend on the internet connection, you aren’t in risk of messing anything up on your live server, and it’s oftentimes a lot faster.
Installation of a new plugin, editing code in theme or engine files, switching themes – it all needs to be done on your localhost first. For Macintosh you want to use Mamp environment and for Microsoft – Xamp.
Another way to test and maintain your website safely is to have a full replica of it in a subfolder on your server.
It works like this: Your website runs peacefully on your-domain-name.com. You have a copy of your site on your-domain-name.com/test and that is where you edit files, make changes without hesitation and do all the dirty work.
Once you’re done there, you can implement changes on your production website. But make sure the replica of your site in subfolder isn’t indexed by the search engines – you don’t want Google to penalize you for duplicate content.
CSS, HTML learning tools
Love it or not, you’ll need to learn CSS and HTML at some point.
Yes, there are drag-and-drop editors. Yes, the theme providers do their best for you to not need to learn a thing. But at some point there’ll be some annoying margin or border that you won’t know how to tweak.
And that’s where you’ll be glad you learnt HTML and CSS in the commute. Codecademy is the perfect place to learn the basics of almost any web/app language there is in the form of a game.
Work with colors
Modern templates, frameworks and plugins make it really easy on the user. Very rarely do you need to code yourself. But you do need to know what’s the name of the color you’re using on your site. For example, to find the needed shade in Photoshop when creating banners.
You can use this W3School color picker to easily generate the perfect color and copy its HEX or RGBA code. And if you’re on a step where you need to create a color scheme for your website, use this color scheme creation tool.
Storing files online
One more thing that you have to take care of is a safe place somewhere on the web to store your data in. You need to be able to share and edit it from any device on the go. I personally am used to Google Drive. But many-many people are evangelists of Dropbox and you can’t judge them.
Find and optimize content for keywords
The web at the moment evolves around keywords and backlinks. Sure, you can just write about what you know and like and wait for the sweet traffic to come. Yet, with this approach your content will hardly ever be discovered.
But a pinch of on-page optimization, tablespoon of backlinks, some competitive research, and your piece of content magically turns into a neat search result on the first page of Google.
Studies show that on-page is a lot less important than it used to be. But for on-page optimization you can turn to Yoast plugin, if you’re on WordPress. Or use an SEO checklist like this classics by Moz.
Find emails of influencers
Owning a website is also about communicating with the right people. You need to reach out to website owners and bloggers to cooperate, guest post, and build quality links to your website.
To do just that, most often I use Email Hunter and Find That Email software.
And as your business grows, you’ll notice that correspondence starts to get out of hand and you need some kind of outreach management software. I’ve had great experience using BuzzStream for all the outreach related tasks. But you can also check out Ninja Outreach.
Competitor Analysis tool
But how do you know who on the web is worth talking to about promotion, who is worth working with, and who doesn’t do that well themselves?
You can use tools like Similar web and BuzzSumo to see what the site in question is worth in terms of traffic and social engagement. But the ultimate tool suite for competitive research and backlink checking is Ahrefs. Ahrefsbot crawls internet viciously to provide you with the freshest data faster than anyone.
Free quality stock photos
Quality images instantly make a website look more credible. But 1 – there aren’t many good images in Google -> Images, 2 – some of them are copyrighted. You don’t want to get in trouble and pay fines for using them.
What you need are websites where talented photographs share their pics for free (oh, generous artists, we do appreciate it).
Here are the ones I used and found good:
Photoshop and alternatives
You can’t always find the perfect images for your content in the web. That is why you need a tool like Adobe Photoshop. It’s admittedly the best one to work with visuals.
“But it costs a lot and I don’t want to pirate!” No worries, I hear you. That’s where free alternatives come in handy.
For example, GIMP. Many people even say it’s better than Photoshop in some ways. But above all, it’s free! Any way you might want to customize your image – GIMP can do it.
And if you want a simple online tool to manipulate your photos, you can go with Canva. Given that you can use it for free, it’s amazing how much flexibility you get. And for quick operations like making images transparent or round try CutMyPic or LunaPic. Not many designers use them, but if all you need is to cut a photo of your cat in a particular shape – these are your tools.
Quick and customizable screenshots
You deserve better than using Paint to create, share and manage screenshots. I’ve come to use this tool: Lightshot.
Social media automation tools
There was a time, long-long ago, when all the posts on social media were posted manually. People logged in 5 times a day to tweet or post. They did it to keep their accounts active, social and entertaining.
SMM specialists always say – consistency is the key. But what if you’re away for a weekend? What if you have things to do other than entertain your subscribers 24/7? Enter tools like Hootsuite and Buffer.
Unless you’re a super experienced marketer, you will use them just to schedule your posts. But believe me, it’s a ton of help. You’ll need about two hours to schedule posts in all of your favorite social networks a month ahead. And you don’t have to think about it anymore. Just login from time to time to engage with your audience and let them enjoy the scheduled wisdom you shared.
Email Marketing tools
You can go crazy managing your email subscribers manually. That’s where tools like Convertkit and MailChimp come in handy. Use them to create email campaigns, automated chains of emails, analyze what your subscribers enjoy and what – not so much.
Of course I had to mention this one. The great Google Analytics. Probably, the most discussed tool by marketers all around the globe. There has never been a lunch break when we didn’t discuss our today’s numbers in analytics. In GA you see where people come to your site from, where they go on it, what they like, what they ignore, which of your growth hacks work and which don’t.
To make work with Google Analytics even easier you can use this tool by Raven Tools. It adds medium and campaign names to your links. So each time you tweet a link, you’ll see how many people clicked it, which CTAs work and which don’t. You can add campaign names to links in your newsletter, on your sharing buttons, to your posts…really anywhere.
Once you’ve build an url that communicates to your analytics you need to shorten it, because that:
doesn’t look good at all. You can use Google’s URL shortener to transform your long links into the short ones.
These are the tools I use in my day-to-day website management routine. They really do make my life easier. Give them a try and feel share your impressions in comments. Also, what are your favorite tools for work with your website?