I always enjoy seeing the details of what themes, plugins and services bloggers and WordPress site creators are using. I often discover new products that way and often see an endorsement for a useful service I might not otherwise encounter. So here is my current WordPress blogging stack for Flux Research plus some bonus plugins and services I use over at DanceLand or for research and writing.
A friend of mine derides the use of the word stack for anything but limited technical references. However I think the metaphor of the stack is quite useful and works well enough for matters at hand. Plus everybody’s doing it!
Platform: The Open Web
The ability to publish my own work quite inexpensively is due largely to the open web in the broadest sense. I’m grateful to those who created it, those who maintain it and all of us who use it to positive ends.
Pinboard is my bookmark tool of choice and I have a lifetime membership from its early years. It’s a must-have for my work as a blogger and news freak.
Text Editing: BBEdit
My text editor of choice is BBEdit. I also used it back when I was writing HTML by hand. Those days are long gone but BBEdit has remained. Very simple to use with clean results.
I’ve used GoDaddy as a registrar for many years and am a member of their Discount Domain Club since I have a bunch of domains. I would likely be using Namecheap if I had fewer domains and am looking forward to Cloudflare Registrar opening up for non-Cloudflare users. I expect an exodus may ensue at that point.
I use SiteGround’s shared hosting plan and I’ve been incredibly happy with what they offer including customer service that goes above and beyond. They’ve often taken care of problems that I think other hosts would suggest you find a developer to handle. There are cheaper hosts but I don’t trust most of them and Siteground comes as close to giving you Fast, Good AND Cheap as I’ve found.
Fred Meyer’s What I’m Thankful For in WordPress: 2017 Edition includes a section on SiteGround by someone with a lot more experience and technical knowledge than I. We’re both fans!
That said, I’m basically running a bunch of blogs and not doing any ecommerce on my sites. When I relaunch DanceLand I will probably move it to Kinsta which I believe is currently the gold standard for managed WordPress hosting.
Currently I’m on the GrowBig plan to which I changed in a cost-cutting effort this summer when I moved to Tennessee. But I’m going back to GoGeek for the New Year because I did see a drop in speed. I think it was one of those penny wise but pound foolish decisions to be honest.
CMS: WordPress and Disable Gutenberg
When my developer friends say they hate WordPress, I get it. When I try to explain to someone with no WP experience and they don’t get it, I get it. It’s a pain of a system to work with. The Gutenberg update may well make things worse before making them better, we’ll see. Until I’m ready to make the switch I’m using Jeff Starr’s Disable Gutenberg plugin.
But when I need to be able to launch a site with content in a variety of forms plus special sections like a business directory and a job board, as I’m planning at DanceLand, show me another option for a solo project by someone who can’t code.
Site Management: ManageWP
I currently care for 13 WP sites, many in archival mode, and keeping everything updated is key to ongoing performance and security. I use ManageWP to check in and update all my sites. I also use it as one of my backup options. For sites to which I regularly add content I use the Safe Update feature as well.
Like SiteGround, ManageWP was recently purchased by GoDaddy. Both services have maintained their identities and ManageWP, in particular, has continued to expand its offerings. ManageWP gives a lot for free and offers great deals on the services for which they charge. They provide a previously missing link in my work with WordPress that has made a huge difference in my daily life.
Note: I recently had to restore this site from a ManageWP backup that was a week old. It gave me an older version and I lost this post from a month ago. Still trying to figure out what happened.
WordPress Theme: Generate Press
Generate Press is a solid basic theme with great support. It would be a good starter theme if I wanted to do more with design but I’m happy with the options available through the pro plugin – GP Premium. Plus the community building around Generate Press has created some great designs to expand quick start options and that’s pretty cool!
After a lot of annoyances with Google Analytics, most people’s top pick, I finally chose Clicky because it allows me to both reduce surveillance and eliminate mixed-in bot stats. I’ve heard Google’s gotten better about the latter but not the former. I’m happy with Clicky’s lightweight simplicity.
SSL : Really Simple SSL
I’ve been using Really Simple SSL to manage SSL on all my sites. It’s very simple and reliable which I appreciate.
But I’m gradually switching over to SSL management through Siteground’s SG Optimizer which is a free plugin for their managed WordPress sites. They introduced it after I was already hosting most of my sites with them and I just haven’t gotten around to switching them all over. But I was always happy with Really Simple SSL.
RSS Management and Email Newsletters: FeedPress
I use FeedPress for RSS management and for the creation and distribution of an email newsletter that goes out the day after anything is posted on the blog. They are inexpensive and reliable. Plus they have a WordPress plugin that makes integration with my WP sites extremely easy.
Photos in RSS Feed: Featured Images in RSS & Mailchimp Email
Since my FeedPress RSS feeds don’t pick up my featured images I include them using Featured Images in RSS & Mailchimp Email.
Note: It seems to have stopped working in Chrome for Mac. Not sure what’s up with that.
Extra Code: Code Snippets as well as Head, Footer and Post Injections
SEO: Yoast SEO
Like so many others, Yoast SEO is my SEO plugin of choice.
Photo Cropping: My Eyes Are Up Here
My Eyes Are Up Here isn’t actually a photo cropping tool. It allows you to place hotspots on photos so that the image display of featured images, particularly in thumbnails, is centered on the chosen area. Particularly useful for DanceLand where the artsy action may not be in the obvious spot but I also use it on all my sites including Flux Research.
Image Compression: WP Smush
Security: iThemes Security Pro
Security is a big issue with WordPress, as with all things on the internet, and I’ve been using iThemes Security Pro to provide an assortment of security features. There is also a free version with a lot to offer.
Security: BBQ, Black Hole for Bad Bots, Host Header Injection Fix
I use a small suite of plugins by Jeff Starr including BBQ, Black Hole for Bad Bots and Host Header Injection Fix. These are set and forget plugins but you can get more complicated with pro editions via Plugin Planet.
Bonus: Additional Services and Plugins
Featured Video Images: Video Thumbnails
Video Thumbnails creates a featured image from YouTube and other embedded videos. I don’t use it on Flux Research but it’s been invaluable at DanceLand. Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated in longer than I usually accept but I’m hoping for the best. I would go pro for DanceLand but I’m not sure that’s being updated either.
Photo Editing: Display All Image Sizes
To be honest I don’t recall using Display All Image Sizes but I know I added it to DanceLand to address specific issues and so others may find it of use.
URL Redirection: Redirection
This redirection plugin, simply called Redirection is solid and straightforward. It has some new features so I need to check them out. Redirecting URL’s is not recommended but when you have to this plugin can be quite useful.
DNS Management: DNS Made Easy
When I first launched DanceLand DNS Made Easy was one of the choices that gave my site incredible speed. I would return for the relaunch if I wasn’t planning on moving DanceLand to Kinsta. If you’re interested in speed, check out this DNS Speed Comparison Report and you’ll see why I chose DNS Made Easy as a cost-effective solution.
Lots of Stuff Stacked!
Hope you found this of use. I put a lot of time into seeking out best of breed WordPress plugins as well as various services useful to bloggers. If you’ve been particularly impressed by plugins and services I haven’t mentioned and are an actual user of those services feel free to recommend them for a possible future post: