WordPress is one of the most reliable and used website content management systems online. One in five websites is built on the WordPress platform because its ease-of-use and availability of themes, plugins and other resources.
WordPress is an open-source platform, which means the source code is available for anyone to review. WordPress boasts a worldwide team of hundreds of community developers actively working on and improving the code and actively encourages developers, coders and anyone wanting to learn more about PHP to dig into the Codex and discover all that WordPress has to offer behind the scenes.
Plugin and Themes and Graphics, Oh My!
There are an abundance of WordPress resources available to choose from, so how do you go about finding reputable and reliable ones for your WordPress self-hosted site?
There are over 30,000 plugins available through various sources, and roughly 2,100 themes available on the WordPress theme directory. Some of the themes and plugins are free while others are paid plugins or offer premium features for an extra cost.
Reputable Resources for Themes
The WordPress theme directory is a great place to begin your search for a theme as all themes in the directory are required to go through a verification process to ensure they are secure and the code quality is compatible with the WordPress code base. Best of all, most of the themes available on the WordPress theme directory are free!
Theme Forest and Envato offer a huge selection of themes, but most are paid themes. Costs are typically reasonable ($20 – $100 per theme) but you typically get 6 months to a year of support and ongoing theme upgrades for this cost.
Reputable Resources for Plugins
The WordPress plugin directory is a great place to find free plugins. Plugins are bits of code that you install on your WordPress website that provides extra functionality such as a gallery for images, newsletter functionality for services like MailChimp or Aweber, and robust contact form options with anti-spam functionality like reCAPTCHA fields built into them.
Graphic Design Resources
Most WordPress themes have built in graphics, but you should check the licensing requirement of the theme (free or paid) to ensure you are able to use the graphics on your website.
Stock photography is a great option for selecting photos for your website. Pixabay.com offers a huge collection of images that are free for use. Death to the Stock Photo offers a monthly stock photo pack that is delivered directly to your inbox. iStockPhoto.com and Shutterstock.com both offer paid stock photography for very reasonable prices; typically between $10 and $45 per photo.
If you are looking to create your own graphics then Canva.com is a super option! They have a ton of pre-built layouts and also offer stock photos for rock bottom prices.
Need a photo editor but don’t want to shell out for Photoshop? PicMonkey.com is a free online editor that allows you to upload photos, add filters, crop and edit as you wish, all for free.
Photoshop CS is affordable and with the online Creative Cloud option, you can get Photoshop for a meager $9.99 per month, which is a small price to pay for full photo and graphics editing features.
There are several excellent WordPress security options available. Wordfence provides basic malware scanning features, malicious file scanning, live traffic monitoring and other tools for free.
iThemes Security also has functionality for banning users with too many failed login attempts, database backups, forcing strong passwords for users, simple monitoring and more and is a great complementary plugin to use with Wordfence.
Wordfence and iThemes Security are free plugins, but both offer pro or premium features for additional security and monitoring.
If managing WordPress and security isn’t your thing then I recommend using WP Engine for hosting your website. WP Engine offers monitoring services such as malware scanning, caching and site speed boost features. Costs are reasonable and start at $29 per month for hosting; less if you pay annually.
WordPress.org versus WordPress.com
Both platforms work equally well, but there are a few substantial differences that you’ll want to consider. WordPress.com is a great platform for individuals who are just starting out and need to get online fast, but you won’t have access to many of the free themes and plugins outlined in this article. However, it’s free and can be set up in less than 10 minutes!
Here’s a great comparison of WordPress.org versus WordPress.com.
WordPress is a fabulous way to build your website and with all of the free resources available to build your site, you’ll be up and running in no time with a site that delights your visitors.