In this post, I'll share with you my top 10 all-time favorite WordPress website design and development tools. Some of these are new, some I've been using now for the last decade! So enjoy.
The first-ever website creation tool I came across was something called Moonfruit SiteMaker Live, way back in 2004.
I doubt that anyone will remember, but at the time, Moonfruit was quite popular because you could build a flashy looking website using simple drag-and-drop editing with no hassle.
Now, this was actually a big deal because it was one of the first and original all-in-one DIY (domain, website, hosting) website creation tools out there.
Over the years, however, MoonFuit has taken a beating from tough new competition like Wix and Divi for WordPress. It also failed to keep up with technological changes, and therefore people simply forgot about it and moved on to better things.
Nowadays, I enjoy using nothing other than WordPress to build websites with. The great thing is that working with WordPress has gotten easier over the recent years, especially now we have a range of page and theme builders to choose from.
If you're a web designer or developer working with WordPress too, below I've compiled a list of my favorite design and dev tools, including themes and plugins that I enjoy working with.
This is not a comprehensive list, but just a few of my faves that I wanted to share with you. If you're interested in checking my power list of WordPress dev tools, check out this post.
Right then, chances are you're already using most of these, but if you're not, then you're in for a real treat, especially if you're just starting out or discovering some of these tools for the first time.
Let's dive straight in.
Oxygen builder is now my top choice toolkit for building custom WordPress websites. For me, this tool works best because it allows me to seamlessly work with visual design and code, i.e., custom HTML, CSS, Java.
Oxygen Builder is also incredibly powerful; there isn't much that you can't do with it, especially now that it comes complete with WooCommerce integration, and Gutenberg Blocks. meaning you can build WooCommerce stores using drag-and-drop editing without touching a single piece of code.
Check out my video tutorials over on my YouTube channel to learn how I use Oxygen Builder to create websites.
Next up we have Thrive Architect and Thrive Theme Builder.
Thrive Architect has been around for a few years now and it still remains my favorite content/page builder plugin for WordPress.
Sure, there are plenty of other page builders out there, but for me, usability and flexibility are critical attributes of a good page builder.
Thrive Architect is great for building out conversion-ready landing pages, and with the add-on plugin, Thrive Optimize, you can do A/B split testing for those landing pages. That's powerful.
Thrive Theme Builder, on the other hand, is a revolutionary breakthrough drag-and-drop, visual theme builder tool, offering almost the same level of power, flexibility, and customization capabilities as Oxygen Builder.
This website builder can also be used to create and customize a variety of websites including WooCommerce stores.
Thrive Leads is the only email list building and marketing plugin I will ever use and recommend.
Thrive Leads is simple to set up and configures seamlessly with almost all of the email marketing platforms out there, including MailChimp and ConvertKit.
Regardless of the niche or industry, you're in. The fact remains that building an email list is one of the most effective ways to help your online business grow.
Thrive Leads can help you -
CSSHero hasn't been around that long but has a lot of potentials. It's one of the few plugins available that allow you to easily customize any WordPress theme's CSS using a stunning WYSIWYG interface.
The plugin was designed to work with most themes and plugins, so it has great compatibility. Some of the themes you can customize using CSSHero include StudioPress, Oxygen Builder, WooCommerce, Elementor, Divi, and Themify.
If you're using the popular WPForms contact forms plugin, one of the easiest ways to customize and style your forms is to use CSSHero (Affiliate link).
LearnDash is a powerful WordPress LMS that is a must for anyone interested in creating online courses using WordPress.
Why is this one of my favorite tools?
Course creation is an effective way to give value to your audience and to earn passive revenue at the same time. This plugin makes the process of laying out and designing your course content easy.
There are plenty of alternative solutions for creating online courses, I get that, but you simply cannot beat making your online courses from scratch and having complete control over the design, content, and layout.
LearnDash is affordable for bloggers and comes with a host of features, demos, tutorials, and more.
LocalWP makes it simple to create WordPress websites on your local machine, i.e., computer. The tool or service is not only ideal for designers and developers working with WordPress but also bloggers wanting to redesign or customize their blogs without hacking into their live site.
LocalWP is free, for the most part, but there are some premium options and add-ons that you might find useful.
I'm pretty sure you've come across Genesis Framework at some point or another, it's definitely one of the most widely used premium quality WordPress themes out there.
I've been a long time user of the Genesis Theme Framework myself. In fact, I started my blogging journey with a Genesis theme back in 2010.
There is a steep learning curve with Genesis and the StudioPress themes, especially for newbies. And if you have little knowledge or experience with basic PHP or CSS, you will struggle.
That being said, most of the child themes for Genesis come ready to use, with some customization options available. Perfect if you're not looking to drastically change the way the theme looks.
Besides, once you pick up a few CSS tricks and whatnot, customizing websites with Genesis is a whole lot of fun.
Next, we get to the ACF plugin (Advanced Custom Fields).
I absolutely love this plugin, and it makes my list because it gives developers the power to create custom options in the back end of WordPress, without having to hack into theme files.
More options means more control, of course.
You can use ACF to create additional custom field types for your categories, or for your 'edit' pages.
FileZilla is a popular desktop client that lets you log into your website's server using your host, username, and password.
Sometimes you may need to create a WordPress installation manually, or, if you ever need to upload large files to your, or your client's website, FileZilla is perfect for this.
Finally, we get to Font Playground which is a Chrome extension that allows you to, as the title suggests, play around with Google web fonts and preview them before adding them to your, or your client's website.
There's another extension called "What Font" which is great for finding out the name of the font a particular website is using.
Both these extensions are huge time savers and a must-have in any web developers toolkit.
So there you have it, 10 excellent tools to help you with your WordPress website or blog projects. These are my top picks. Whether you use them for yourself or for your clients, I'm sure you'll love using any of the tools or services mentioned above.
What are your favorite WordPress development tools? Is there something, in particular, you're using you think I'll love checking out?