The WordPress ecosystem is constantly evolving in different ways, the Gutenberg block-editor being the latest addition to really change up the direction WordPress is moving in. As a developer using the WordPress platform for many years developing custom plugins and themes, it’s important to see the direction the platform is moving towards to make long-lasting choices that benefit you and your business in the long run.
The purpose of this article is to remind those creating websites on the WordPress platform of WordPress’ mission, how to best follow the curve, and some fantastic tools that will help you along the way.
Where is WordPress heading right now?
As of right now, work is undergoing on the second phase of the Gutenburg project. There is a heavy focus on the full-site editing side of WordPress.
Full-site editing in a nutshell is being able to edit any part of the website without much distinction between themes, plugins and the content editor. Traditionally WordPress was built up of themes and plugins — now, WordPress is now looking to make those indistinguishable. With full-site editing, you’re able to add and edit blocks which are no longer just your standard content.
Blocks can be used in different places; header, footer, sidebar to name a few. The best part of blocks is that they’re not just composed of static content — they can also house dynamic content, for example if you’re building a single post (blog post page) template, you can build a single template in a visual editor that will be used for all of your posts.
Full-site editing plugins like Oxygen are making it easier for anyone to build custom websites that are responsive and easy to use. The team at Oxygen most definitely are ahead of the curve and see that WordPress is moving in this direction — teams like this demonstrate why understanding where the platform is going is important, and lucrative!
Follow Best Practices
I think this goes without saying, but following the best practices that WordPress have established and keeping on top of their roadmap is crucial. I keep a couple rules for myself when developing WordPress websites:
- Don’t use unnecessary plugins — Keep it simple, you don’t need a plugin for absolutely everything. Some of them will bog your website down speed-wise, and the thing that I hate is having all of those plugins listed in the sidebar of my dashboard. It looks horrific, and stops me from focusing on the aspects of the website that are important to me.
- Consistency throughout design — On the usability / design side of any website I’m developing, I always keep consistency in mind. Simple things when using a full-site editor like keeping font-sizes consistent globally, and reusing elements of your design when needed.
- Understand who is going to be using your website — Not just the audience, but the people editing the website also. I’ve had no end of clients find it difficult to change simple things like colors, add simple elements to a page, or even add blog posts. If you’re using a full-site editor to build websites, keep reusable elements organized for clients and labelled to prevent any misunderstandings.
Anyway, without further ado — my favorite tools!
Best Plugins WordPress Websites
I’m sharing some of my favorite plugins that I personally use on most of my client websites, and my own. Learn how to use this arsenal, and you’re in business.
Oxygen is certainly one of the most powerful and flexible visual builders for WordPress. It’s super easy to set up and use, and is suitable for building any kind of website in WordPress. It even supports WooCommerce, meaning that you can design and develop an entire E-Commerce store in Oxygen alone.
Oxygen is a paid plugin, and is priced at $99 (for a standard license, other licensing options are available). It’s definitely worth the investment.
Elementor + Astra Theme
Elementor is another option for a solid website builder. It has much of the capabilities of Oxygen and a free version, but in my opinion isn’t as easy to use as Oxygen. Regardless, it is a very powerful website builder and a great option for those of you who do not have the budget to invest in Oxygen.
Astra is a WordPress theme that integrates smoothly with Elementor that also has a paid version. With the paid version you get access to a bunch of helpful starter templates and some useful shortcuts to help you manage the styling of your website.
WPRocket is a caching plugin for WordPress that is simple to set up that allows you to achieve an extremely fast load time. Cache your pages, preload your cache and compress all of your pages to serve them statically — it’s a matter of heading into the dashboard, and flicking a few settings on your sites to start serving a faster website.
For the standard version it costs $34.30 — which will give you a license for a single website. I use this plugin on most of the websites that I create, and I can’t recommend it enough.
SEOPress is a simple and powerful WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your website best for search engine crawlers. There are absolutely tons of features that I can’t go over in depth here, but I have used Yoast and All-in-one SEO in the past, and I can say confidently that SEOPress blows them both out of the water in terms of features and usability.
For a license it costs only $39! A worthwhile investment for improving your search engine rankings.
If you want to create better WordPress websites, it’s important to follow where the trend of WordPress is going and to follow all of the best practices. When creating new functionality on WordPress websites, always revisit the best practices and see how you can best implement this functionality on your website.
The plugins that I’ve shared today are all fantastic examples of plugins following the curve of WordPress and where it is going. I’d highly recommend checking all of them out.
P.S: If you’re interested in getting regular tips delivered right to your inbox, sign up for my email newsletter here.