I have provided a brief guide to 6 tools to help you build a great website on this page. It is important to ensure your site is easy to maintain and does what your visitors expect it to do. At the heart of that experience lies the selection of tools you (or I) work with.
Many hours have been invested evaluating alternatives and these are the tools I have settled on. Although Ryan is a member of some of their affiliate programs, I hope you will take these recommendations at face value. They really are great tools to work with and worth the investment, where required.
1 – Content Management System – WordPress
All the sites SPS develops are based on WordPress, the open source content management system (CMS). I looked at Drupal, (too complicated for my needs,) and Joomla, (a close run thing) but settled on the most-widely used CMS as I believe it is important my clients can pick up the maintenance of their sites readily after minimal training.
2 – Hosting Providers – Two Options
If you need a globally accessible, lightening-fast website and your budget is not such an issue, then I strongly recommend SiteGround. During 2015 I made the switch from TSOHOST, which I was very happy with, to SiteGround. My needs and budget meant WPEngine or the likes were not necessary, but an integration with a content delivery network (CDN) to give me that responsiveness globally was towards the top of the list. Site performance is key and the tools on offer really stood out. That and other peoples’ recommendations.
Just starting out? Working on a tight budget? I looked around for a reliable and cost-effective hosting provider that would be responsive to my needs, particularly when it comes to customer care. I am proud to recommend my former hosting provider, TSOHOST. They are based in the UK and their support is second to none. Their response times are superb, the cloud service is particularly user-friendly and they offer a whole range of services to suit your needs, at very affordable rates. I still use them for some of the smaller sites I manage.
3 – Theme Designer – Dynamik Web Builder on Genesis Framework
A lot of time was spent looking for a flexible and affordable solution that would enable SPS to design the individual themes needed for each client site. I stopped looking when I discovered The Catalyst Theme, which has now been replaced by Dynamik Website Builder for the Genesis Framework, which quite frankly is outstanding and totally flexible. It rocks and so does the support community!
4 – Membership & subscription management – S2Member
When you want to control access to parts of your site and/or charge membership fees, there is simply no better plugin for WordPress in my experience than S2Member. Not only does it offer a free fully functional s2member framework plugin, but the paid-for version comes with various (affordable) license options to suit your needs and it is stacked full of even more great features.
5 – Events, Ticketing and eCommerce – Modern Tribe
One of my key clients exists to run events and I find the plugins that Modern Tribe deliver are robust, full of features and combine the best of what I see in their competitors’ offerings. They really are slick and pretty easy to work with.
6 – Online Community – BuddyPress & bbPress
When it comes to integrating social media capabilities into your site, perhaps for your members, then I recommend BuddyPress and if you need forums, then look no further than bbPress. Both plugins are emminently configurable and thanks to the Catalyst Connect plugin, they integrate smoothly with your Catalyst themed site.