Recommended tech & dev stack
Table of contents
- WordPress plugins
- Hardware & quality of life kit
I build almost everything in, on, or using WordPress.
The combination of custom post type support, extensible frameworks, and a powerful REST API makes it the perfect development toolkit for almost anything which looks and behaves like a ‘website’.
Where you code, and the environment that you code in, can have a huge impact on how you code. Intelligent features, integrated environments, and clever shortcuts can have a huge impact on time, efficiency and quality.
Visual Studio Code for coding
I’ve played with many code editors over the years – from Notepad++, to Sublime, to Atom, and many more. None of them has felt more like ‘home’ than Visual Studio Code. It’s powerful, extensible (with a thriving extensions ecosystem), and slots neatly into my development workflow.
Local for local web development
As a Windows user, it’s often a painful experience to build and manage a (performant) local development environment. Local by Flywheel just works and allows you to manage, update and work with multiple local WordPress installations with ease.
They also offer an integrated hosting + deployment process which I haven’t used but could be handy for people who want to manage everything in one place.
Writing, managing and publishing code can be a complex process – especially when coordinating with other developers. These tools make the whole process seamless and easy!
GitHub for versioning
GitHub sits at the heart of my development workflow and manages my files, changes, history and team collaboration.
I use a ‘feature branch’ workflow, where discreet functionality is managed and deployed via dedicated branches.
GitKraken for managing GitHub repositories
I tried a lot of tools for visualising and managing GitHub repositories, and, none of them came close to being as good as GitKraken.
GitKraken is where I manage branches, versions, releases, conflicts and more – all in one super-sleek interface!
Trello for task management
I live my life from Trello, and it makes sure that I always know what’s next. I have boards for individual teams and projects, columns for activity types, and tags for statuses and dependencies. Trello keeps me sane and keeps me productive.
The physical (or virtual) hardware which your site runs on, the location of the hosting, and the configuration of those back-end systems can have a huge impact on the performance of your site. Getting the right hosting and CDN setup is one of the most impactful changes you can make to improve and manage performance.
Servebolt for hosting
I’m obsessed with speed, and Servebolt is by far the fastest WordPress hosting I’ve ever encountered. The easy setup and management, excellent customer service, and lightning-fast response times are genuinely delightful. Comes with a handy WordPress optimisation plugin, too.
Cloudways for (cheaper, DIY) hosting
Whilst Servebolt is my go-to for hosting, it can be a little pricey for hobby sites, and you’re a little limited in how many sites you can manage in a single ‘bolt’.
For everything else, or if you want to get your hands dirty, there’s Cloudways.
Cloudflare for content delivery, caching & more
The most powerful tool in my arsenal, Cloudflare takes care of the heavy lifting of caching all of my assets, media, and static pages.
For more advanced use cases, its Worker, Argo and firewall capabilities make it a critical part of the stack.
I no longer maintain a list of recommended plugins, as it’s easier to simply reference Yoast.com’s list. Some, however, warrant some attention here as they form key pieces of my tech stack, workflow and architecture.
ACF (and ACF extended) for architecture
If I want to do anything even remotely sophisticated with my templates and content, I turn to ACF. It powers my custom fields, blocks, site options – and in some cases – entire template logic. Couldn’t live without it.
WP Pusher for syncing files
Because I manage most of my WordPress sites, themes and plugins through GitHub, I need a convenient way to synchronise branches back to websites, with some consideration for different branches, repositories, and folders.
WP Pusher does a great job of allowing me to configure which bits of which repositories should sync to which websites, then handles everything quietly in the background.
Sometimes, a static page caching layer (and cutting out all of those pesky database calls) can make a huge difference to how quickly your website loads.
Hardware & quality of life kit
Investing in the right tools for the job makes that a healthier, happier, and more productive experience.
Dell XPS 15 (9520)
My laptop gets used a lot, travels, entertains, and takes a bit of a bruising. It needs to be robust, lightweight, powerful, and fast, and to have great battery life.
I’m on my fourth XPS (previously having variations of both the
13 edition), and I’ve never been happier.
Also, check out dbrand.com for awesome vinyl customisation. Mine’s purple, and it looks incredible.
Nest Wifi Pro, for reliable and powerful WiFi
There’s nothing more frustrating than a flakey wifi connection. My Nest setup uses my existing router (which I’m forced to use as a Virgin Media business customer) and dials everything up to 11. The excellent throughput, stability and ability to micromanage the whole setup means that I can work, download, stream and game all at the same time.
Logitech Signature M650 mouse, for silent, smart clicking
If I’m immersed in a project, nothing’s quite as distracting as the clackety-clack sound of a mechanical mouse button. The M590 does a wonderful job of being truly silent, without sacrificing any precision or features. The multi-device capabilities are pretty cool, too.
Razer Chroma Gaming Mouse Mat, for grippy texture and delightful aesthetics
My Chroma mouse mat offers just the right amount of resistance to ensure that my mouse usage is stable and precise, without everything feeling sluggish.
Sony WF-1000XM5 headphone, for glorious noise-cancelling immersion
I’ve dabbled with lots of noise-cancelling headphones, and I’ve never been quite happy with anything except for these absolutely wonderful earbuds. The sound quality, battery life, noise-cancelling and ergonomics are all excellent.
Wrist Donut, for healthier mouse usage
Rather than having to buy a padded mouse mat and cushioned keyboards, my Wrist Donut comfortably changes the angle at which I type and use my mouse – making typing and coding for long periods much more enjoyable.