*Note that, some of these links contain affiliate codes – that is to say that, I may gain a small amount of compensation if you sign up or buy the product/service. That said, there’s nothing here which I don’t endorse wholeheartedly, and I personally use and recommend the tools I’ve highlighted.
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.
I’ve played with many code editors over the years – from Notepad++, to Sublime, and many more. None of them have felt more like ‘home’ than Atom. It’s powerful, extensible (with a thriving plugin ecosystem), and slots neatly into my development workflow.
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 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.
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!
I ususally author and manage my CSS in LESS, which means that it needs a compiling process in order to turn into actual CSS. With Koala, I can make that process happen continually and seamlessly in the background, and also take advantage of a friendly interface for managing how individual files should behave.
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.
I’m obsessed by 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.
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.
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.
Bonus points for setting up intelligent edge-caching of HTML pages via this plugin (and the associated worker script).
Although Cloudflare does a great job of caching and serving images from local data centres, those images still need to live somewhere.
I like to configure a media.example.com subdomain, and serve all my images remotely. That way, I don’t have to manage local copies in each working environment.
I have a separate page for my recommended WordPress plugins, so I won’t list all of my favourites. Some, however, warrant some attention here as they form key pieces of my tech stack, workflow and architecture.
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.
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, and takes a bit of a bruising. It needs to be robust, lightweight, 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.
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.
This is the best desk lamp in the world. It bends, twists, and flexes – and light colour/intensity settings range from “hyper focus” to “nearly bedtime”, and everything inbetween.
It’s also a wireless phone charger, USB hub, and about a dozen other gadgets in one.