Handy Free Online Tools for the WordPress Website Hobbyist

One of the many wonderful things about WordPress is that its barriers to entry are very low.  Anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and spend a bit of time viewing YouTube tutorials can build up a site themselves using the many available WordPress themes and plugins and create and manage their own content.  While we certainly recommend working with a professional team whenever adding new features/plugins to a site (especially when needing to modify code), and we recognize that not everyone has the time or disposition to take on the work themselves, we also know there are those who like a “hands on approach” to their website, and for those we present you with a list of useful tools and resources to help along the way.

WordPress Specific Resources

  1. WordPress Documentation:  https://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page  .  This is the main source of documentation for WordPress, and though it can and does get very technical, it is the “authoritative” source for all things WordPress.
  2. WordPress Themes:
    1. Free:  https://wordpress.org/themes/
    2. Premium:  https://themeforest.net/category/wordpress
  3. WordPress Plugins:  https://wordpress.org/plugins/
  4. Excellent Simple WordPress Tutorials:  https://www.wpbeginner.com/ .  There are many other similar websites that you can find simply by Googling your particular question, but this one is a good starting point for those just getting into WordPress.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for WordPress

  1. Google Analytics:  https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/ .  This is an indispensable free tool you need to have in place on your site.  Also Google Analytics Academy is excellent for learning how to best use the tool.
  2. Yoast SEO:  https://yoast.com/  .  This is a required plugin for all WordPress websites and their site has a wealth of free information for using their tool and best SEO practices in general.

Site Health and Performance for WordPress

  1. Google Search Console:  https://search.google.com/search-console/about .  Another free and very valuable tool from Google which provides some SEO related resources as well as a way to monitor overall site health.
  2. GTmetrix:  https://gtmetrix.com/ .  There are other tools that do the same thing, but we find this to be among the best at monitoring site performance in an actionable way (ie. it provides details on how to fix any performance related issues it detects).

Coding Related Resources

  1. Mozilla:  https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn .  This is the best resource for learning HTML, CSS, and other web related technical tidbits.
  2. Stack Overflow:  https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/wordpress .  One of the good things about websites, programming, and computers in general, is there is always an expert online willing to help you out.  Be warned though that sometimes that same expert may take the opportunity to tell you how smart they are and how ignorant you are, so tread lightly when asking a new question!  That being said, most people in the community are friendly and helpful, and often a search can find useful answers to the same question you need to ask.

Image Related Resources

  1. Free Online Photo Editing:  https://www.photopea.com/ .  This is an amazing free tool that allows you to edit images of all kinds and could be described as a simplified free online version of Photoshop.
  2. More Free Online Photo Editing:  https://pixlr.com/ .  Similar to Photopea, but a bit simpler in our experience.
  3. Free Images:  https://www.pexels.com/ .  A pretty common website rookie mistake is using any old image you see on the web for your site.  While there is usually nothing physically preventing this practice, you can be sure that there are plenty of copyright lawyers crawling the web looking for websites who have used their content without permission, and the consequences of doing so can be ugly.  Do yourself a favor and use a free image service like Pexels or be willing to pay for images from Shutterstock or similar.

Internet Archive

The Wayback Machine is a fabulous free tool to view what a website looked like at some point in the past.  It’s a bit of a “brute force” method of viewing an archive, but especially in the case of a site that has switched platforms and lost content as a result, this tool can be a real life saver.

Google and YouTube

As with most things in life, often the best way to find the answer you are looking for is to simply Google it or search on YouTube for a video tutorial.  By doing this you will also come across many other resources that you can bookmark and use in the future.

Web Developers

We have clients that run the gamut from those who have us manage even basic content updates to those who only contact us when they need to modify some code or add a new complicated plugin/feature.  Whatever your comfort level is with working on your WordPress site, we’re here to help!

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