Recommended tech & dev stack

I’ve always loved to build, dabble, and tinker with things on the internet. Over the years I’ve spent making technical SEO tweaks, customising WordPress, and playing with CSS and JavaScript, I’ve developed a go-to set of tools, platforms and processes – and I’m happy to share!

*Some of these links contain affiliate codes. I may be compensated if you sign up or buy a product/service. However, there’s nothing here which I don’t endorse and use myself.

Software

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’.

Increasingly, it’s the best back-end for app-like experiences, too; with an increasingly rich selection of mature headless frameworks and tooling, like WP Engine’s Atlas and Faust.js.

Environment

Where you code, and the environment 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.

Atom for coding

I’ve played with many code editors over the years – from Notepad++, to Sublime, and many more. None of them has felt more like ‘home’ than Atom. It’s powerful, extensible (with a thriving plugin 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.

Workflow

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

Infrastructure

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.

Digital Ocean 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 Digital Ocean.

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.

WordPress plugins

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.

WP Rocket* for performance optimization

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. WP Rocket also comes with a bunch of clever optimisation features, such as localising common JavaScript libraries and optimising the way in which your pages load.

Hardware & quality of life kit

Investing in the right tools for the job makes that a healthier, happier, and more productive experience.

Dell XPS 13 (2019 edition)*

My laptop gets used a lot, travels, entertains, and takes a bit of a bruising. It needs to be robust, lightweight, powerful, fast, and have great battery life.

I’m on my third XPS (previously having had a 15 edition and the previous 13 edition), and I’ve never been happier.

Also, check out dbrand.com for awesome vinyl customisation. Mine’s purple, and it looks incredible.

PowerColor Mini Pro, for extreme gaming

Whilst my XPS has top-tier performance when it comes to RAM and CPU, the onboard graphics card can struggle a little when trying to run resource-heavy games and GPU-reliant software. This nifty external graphics card dials everything up to 11, and can be upgraded in the future.

Wrist Donut for healthy mouse usage

Rather than having to buy padded mousemat and cushioned keyboards, my wrist donut comfortably changes the angle I type at, and makes typing and coding for long periods pain-free.