Building and maintaining WordPress websites is a complex undertaking involving many tasks. How fast and well you can perform them has a direct impact on how many clients and projects you can take on, and consequently, your bottom line.
With the above in mind, in this article I will provide you with a number of excellent tools for WordPress development and site maintenance that can seriously improve your workflow.
Ready to begin? Let’s get cracking!
Local development environments
Local WordPress installs are fast and safe environments for testing themes, plugins and site changes. Plus, without the need for an Internet connection, they enable you to work from anywhere.
In this category, DesktopServer is a clear winner. Unlike other local environments, it is geared specifically towards WordPress development instead of web development at large.
The program can create websites in a matter of seconds, complete with database and WordPress files. As if that wasn’t enough, it also comes with live site imports, remote deployment, and other advanced features.
A free alternative to DesktopServer, XAMPP will set up a local Apache server and MySQL environment in no time. It’s easy to handle and much quicker to set up than installing its components one by one.
A boilerplate is a piece of code that can be used over and over again to create working programs with less programming effort. There are several good options for WordPress development available.
The _s or Underscores theme serves as boilerplate for theme development. It consists of templates, layouts and minimal CSS — everything you need to get started quickly.
The best part is that the theme was recently extended with specific templates. If you plan to create a magazine, portfolio, blog or business theme, Underscores will give you a considerable head start.
What Underscores is for themes, WPPB is for plugins — a foundation for building high-quality WordPress products. The boilerplate is up to WordPress coding standards, well-organized and object-oriented.
What’s even better is the accompanying boilerplate generator:
Merely input your plugin information (name, slug, author, etc.) and you will receive a zip file with your customized starter plugin.
A good code editor is the most basic tool of any developer. Therefore, only the best of the best will do.
It also comes with code completion, debugging, unit testing, version control, a REST client along with other tools, and speaks HTML, CSS, Sass, Less and more.
This popular free alternative is by default more suitable for casual coding. However, its many powerful extensions can turn Notepad++ into a tool for professionals. Definitely worth a look.
Note: For another interesting alternative, check out Synchi, a WordPress-internal IDE.
Browser development tools
Browser-internal developer tools used to be a thing of add-ons and extensions, but today’s major browsers offer them out of the box.
Chrome’s tool suite can do all the usual tasks expected of a devtool, however, its standout feature is surely the mobile design testing tool.
It enables you to test your design for particular devices or custom screen sizes, and can even simulate bad connections. Extremely useful!
Of course, Firefox has its own tool set, and it comes with all the standard features for inspecting and debugging. While solid in its own right, Chrome really knocked it out of the park here.
The real heart of any WordPress site is its database. Therefore, it’s highly important to have the right means to take care of it.
phpMyAdmin is one of the most popular solutions for database management for good reason. The easy-to-use interface makes performing complex MySQL extremely simple. A viable option for both professionals and newbies.
Here we have a direct competitor of phpMyAdmin which claims to be slicker, faster and more secure. With everything packed into one file, it is definitely easier to set up.
For managing WordPress files on your server, a good FTP client is a must have.
An open source and cross-platform FTP client, FileZilla is well maintained and frequently updated. It also supports several protocols including SFTP, can transfer files up to 4GB, and allows remote editing.
Cyberduck was designed specifically for Apple machines, resulting in an exceptional experience. It also integrates with external editors and can connect to cloud servers.
I probably don’t have to tell you about the importance of regular backups. Fortunately, WordPress offers many options for that.
This plugin is a popular solution that can optimize, repair, backup, restore and drop databases as well as run queries — all from inside WordPress dashboard. Automatic task scheduling is also available.
The WordPress.org repository isn’t short of backup plugins, but BackUpWordPress in particular stands out as a top candidate for your consideration. Authored by Human Made (one of the most respected WordPress agencies around), it offers a completely free full-site backup solution.
Building and maintaining WordPress websites can be a complex and daunting task. However, with the right tools it can get a lot easier. With this list, you have them at your disposal.
I encourage you to test drive any of the options above and see how they can improve your personal workflow. Upgrading your tools can make a real difference as I am sure you will see.
What are your must-have tools for creating and maintaining WordPress websites? Let us know in the comments!