I am an affiliate of some of these products, which I only do because they are THE products I love and use. I have already vetted these products for you! So let’s take a look!
These companies have been around for a long time, have been vetted by me and other professionals, and are reputable. There are other pretty good companies, but also many that I have not had good results with. Unless you have a larger marketing fund to pay for a high quality WordPress “managed” hosting service such as WPengine, these are the best options.
Siteground.com – They have virtually 100% up-time (in other words virtually no down-time). They’re servers are optimized for WordPress websites and therefore, they “serve” websites faster. Extremely affordable plans, amazing customer service and CPanel interface (the easiest hosting interface out today) round off this top choice website host. Reviews are consistently between 4 ½ and 5 stars. Can you tell I’m a fan?!
Bluehost.com – Great for the beginner, smaller sites and for the budget-minded, this website hosting company is SUPER easy to get started with your website and setting up WordPress. See my three most recent blog articles on how to go from start to finish with this hosting company for a VERY affordable rate!
Godaddy.com – I think pretty much everyone knows of Godaddy. I have used their services for years. Many people use them to purchase their domains even if they host their website someplace else. But their hosting is very affordable, and their down time is almost non-existent. I have also been very pleased with their customer service.
I have used this service for many years. There was a time when stock photos cost hundreds of dollars and you either had to pay that money, go without images, or make your own. But several years ago, iStockphoto.com, or iStock by Getty as it is now called, finally made good stock images available to the masses. You can purchase them one at a time, or purchase credits if you know you will be back for more (the credits get you a lower price per image). They offer not only photos, but illustrations and video. A tried and true service!
A wonderful resource for FREE photos. You’re not always going to win here, but this is the first place I go for my own website images.
This is an amazing website that lets you pull graphics together for blog articles, web pages, PDF documents and many more formats. You may be thinking, “I have no ability to create decent looking layouts!” Well, my friend, they provide you pre-designed pieces with graphics and type already in place. You can change the colors and the text, add your own logo and there you have it! Or you can pull it together piece by piece. Many times your graphic will be free and ready for download as soon as you have created it. Some of the illustrations and photos cost $1. Yes ONE dollar. Pretty sweet, huh?!
This website is really my go-to for themes. I do have other sources I use, depending on the project, but Themeforest has so many themes to offer. They are rated by buyers, you can see theme developers’ information such as how long they have been developing themes, how many they have and how well people seem to like them. Also you can view a complete demo of any theme!
Plugins are little packages of software that you install into your WordPress website to add new functionalities such as slideshows, contact forms, website security, etc. There are tons of them out there – some great, some bad, most have free and paid versions. I very rarely purchase plugins, opting for the free versions. The plugins I list here are the basics I think all websites should have and are highly rated. These plugins are found within the WordPress work area.
Yoast SEO by Joost de Valk
This is the go-to plugin to improve your website search engine optimization for most WordPress web designers. It teaches you how to optimize your website and scores you. Your SEO score improves as you make the suggested changes.
This is one of the most popular security plugins for WordPress websites. It scans for evil software, blocks hackers from brute force attacks (barraging your website with several attempts to login.
Well, I’m not sure exactly how it’s pronounced by I say ai-kiz’-met. Anyway, if you accept comments on your web pages or blog posts this is a must-have! Without this plugin you will get so much spam submitted through your comment forms you’ll think you moved to Hawaii. Spam, the canned meat, is a very popular product in Hawaii. So… anyway, you need this if you have any forms really, but if you don’t allow comments, then you can do without it.
W3 Total Cache
This is a terrific plugin to help speed up your website. The settings are a bit involved, but there are a lot of articles you can find via Google about how to set this up. Speed of a website is more important today than ever; people expect sites to download in 2-4 seconds, and Google ranks fast sights better.
Edit Author Slug
This may be hard to understand if you are new to WordPress, but this plugin will hide your user name from hackers. Yes, normally your user name is visible to anyone by clicking on the author’s name in a blog post. This plugin prevents the real user name from being displayed.
All of these books I have used in my business or in the classes I teach at the College of DuPage.
The Non-Designer’s Design Book (4th Edition)
by Robin Williams (2014)
Robin Williams, not the comedian, has been writing about design theory for print and the web since 2003. She has older books out specifically about web design, but the rules of design still apply whether you’re working with print or digital. This particular book will help you understand why one layout looks amazing and one just doesn’t work. Color theory, fonts, balance and more are addressed in this book in a beautiful and easy-to-read presentation. I love this gal! And this is one where I would purchase the hard book to get the full effect.
Web Designer’s Idea Book, Volume 4: Inspiration from the Best Web Design Trends, Themes and Styles by Patrick McNeil (2014) Paperback
This book is fantastic for getting the creative juices going. The website examples are not to be stolen, but you will find ways of designing your website you hadn’t thought of. Just really great ideas! I find these books are good for about 3 years before the trends really start to change. However, I still find ideas in my older versions!
HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites
by Jon Duckett (2011) Paperback
This book is a bit more technical for those who want to dig in a little more, however it doesn’t feel technical. It’s nicely laid out, easy to read and NOT written like a programmer wrote it! If you’re into it, this is a great book for the HTML/CSS novice. I use this book in my HTML and CSS classes.
Lynda.com online training
By far, THE most comprehensive online courses website with easy-to-understand videos on anything software-related. You can learn about WordPress, Adobe Audition, Audacity and anything else you can think of. They’ve been around since the beginning of the web, but they are still affordable at $25 each month for only as long as you want it. You can just sign up for 1 month and stay up 24/7 watching courses for that entire month. As many as you can get to! It’s a sweet deal.
I’m not a book reader, so when I do read AND recommend a book, it’s kind of a big deal.
Voiceovers: Everything You Need to Know about How to Make Money with Your Voice – Apr 6, 2011, by Terri Apple.
Well-known voice over actress and author. I recently ran into Terri Apple (almost literally) at the That’s Voice Over Career Expo and had her sign her book that I bought years back. I had the older version from way back (even though it’s still good today), but she recommended her newer edition (2011) which has even more helpful information about making money with voice overs!
Voice Actor’s Guide to Recording at Home and On the Road
– October 16, 2008, by
How lucky am I that not only do I teach at the same college as Jeffrey Fisher, but he lives the next town over from me! He has helped me immensely with my own sound issues, and in this book he will help you too! I had an older version and, though he signed it for me, he sent me the newer edition which is invaluable. And then there’s Harlan Hogan; need I say more?! You get Jeffrey’s technical experience and Harlan’s voice over professionalism.
VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-Over Actor
– Aug 5, 2014 by Harlan Hogan.
You can benefit from Harlan Hogan’s lifetime of voice over experience with this book. It’s funny. It’s serious. And you won’t believe some of the real behind-the-scenes stories he shares.