Free Resources to Help You Build Your Next WordPress Site

Mar 8 2013 by Luke Clum | 10 Comments

Free Resources to Help You Build Your Next WordPress Site

WordPress is a popular website publishing platform. What once was primarily a blogging system has now evolved into a flexible and robust CMS used by both small businesses and large corporations alike.

When working with clients, front-end developers are often expected to produce creative, cutting edge content in a very short period of time.

And beyond staying innovative, there can often be a lot of redundant coding and debugging which requires a careful, meticulous eye. Between managing client expectations and trying to produce well-designed sites in a reasonable amount of time, developers can really feel the pinch.

Fortunately, there is an immense amount of resources to help aid with WordPress development.

In this article, I’ve seeded through tons of stuff to bring you a list of my favorite free WordPress resources for designers and developers. From discovering inspiration to choosing the right WordPress theme framework, I hope you’ll find just what you need to kick start your next project.

WordPress Theme Design Inspiration

One of the toughest parts of web design can often be just getting started. And even once you’ve begun to build your wireframes or designed your layouts, it’s easy to fall into the stylistic rhythms you’ve used in the past. This is why it’s important to continually research and interact with the work of other WordPress theme designers.

The following sites are a great place to engage with new and fresh designs to keep you pumping out those jaw-dropping projects.

Theme Design Gallery

WordPress Tag on CSS Awards

WP Inspiration

WPExplorer

We Love WP

WordPress Cheat Sheets

When developing WordPress themes, it can often be difficult to remember all of the specific steps and coding structures to building a complete theme.

Cheat sheets are a great way of keeping referencing specific code queries with ease.

Interactive WordPress Guide

Basic Theme Anatomy

WP Code & Tags

The Loop: Visual Model

WordPress Theme Frameworks

Instead of coding each new template from scratch, frameworks give WordPress developers a foundation to build upon. At their best, frameworks can save developers hours building and re-coding similar site structures.

There are plenty of frameworks out there, and each one is unique. I found these to be worth a look.

Bones

Gantry

Whiteboard

Thematic

Reverie

WordPress Tutorials Sites

No matter how experienced you are, you will run into walls that will need troubleshooting.

However, one of the greatest things about WordPress is the gigantic community of developers to pull support from.

There are hundreds of sites that offer extensive tutorials and responses to some of more difficult development questions.

Below is a list of my favorite sites that continually offer answers for both beginners and experts alike.

Wptuts+

Wptuts+

WP Beginner

WPMU

WordPress Plugins

One of the best things about WordPress is the immense amount of free, open source plugins available. When looking to provide a specific functionality to your themes, it’s usually easy to discover a plugin that will fulfill the task with little work on your part.

But beyond directly improving your site’s functionality, plugins can also greatly improve the efficiency of your development workflow.

Below is a list of plugins that I found especially helpful to the development process.

  • Debug Bar: The Debug Bar is an essential tool for anyone developing with WordPress. This plugin makes debugging issues simpler by showing query, cache, PHP warnings and other helpful debugging information.
  • SyntaxHighlighter: With SyntaxHighlighter you’re able to post code directly to your site without losing any formatting or helpful syntax colors. It makes writing and updating code in posts a whole lot easier.
  • CMS Tree Page View: CMS Tree Page View offers a simple but extremely helpful service. It allows you to quickly access all of your pages organized by their site structure. Not only can it help you find what you’re looking for quickly, but it can also give you a good overview of how your site’s content is taking shape.
  • WP Google Fonts: WP Google Fonts makes using web fonts on WordPress themes easy. Since Google launched its free web font service, the web has been exploding with creative designs.
  • Broken Link Checker: This WordPress plugin crawls your site and returns a report that will notify you of any broken links or redirects. A must-have to make sure your site stays in tip-top shape.
  • Redirection: Redirection is a plugin that manages 301 redirects, tracks 404 errors and helps clean up any stray pages your site may have. It can be especially helpful if you’re trying to migrate pages from an old domain name.

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About the Author

Luke Clum is a graphic designer and web developer from Seattle. He loves working with UI design and is an avid climber and outdoorsman. Check out his site, www.lukeclum.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum.

10 Comments

Youssef

March 8th, 2013

Thank you for this cool resources, it’s a good guide for new WordPress users and especially developers

Joel Newcomer

March 8th, 2013

Hey Luke! Nice post! However, I highly recommend that you remove Broken Link Checker from your list of plugins. This plugin will overwhelm your server with HTTP requests, bringing it to a complete standstill. WPengine bans the plugin for that reason: http://support.wpengine.com/disallowed-plugins/

I just wanted to save your readers some headaches. Thanks! I love Six Revisions!

Totio Filipov

March 8th, 2013

Wow, I’ve never thought of WordPress theme frameworks. So far I have either payed a web designer for a completely unique look or bought a template which many people have also bought. Using theme frameworks looks like a middle ground solution. Thanks for the tip, Luke.

Warda

March 8th, 2013

I’m learning word press these days and you have just made it easier.
Thanks

mark jonny

March 9th, 2013

Thank you so much for providing these useful wordpress blogs. There is always room for improvement and I’m sure these help blogs will be of value!
Nice sites..You must of done some real good research here. Never come across wordpress tv….Seems like they have videos galore there.

ECTemplates

March 10th, 2013

Wonderful collection, I am learning how to develop a wordpress theme.

Frank Waive

March 10th, 2013

Am particularly surprised you didn’t mention Boilerplate by Aaron T. Grogg, I think it’s a great option, its pretty simple to understand compared to gantry and some others. Great post.

Debug Design

March 12th, 2013

My essential plugins also include:

- WordPress SEO by Yoast (For all things SEO)
- Google Analyticator (for dashboard analytics)
- w3 Cache plugin (for Speed)
- Dashboard notepad (Just Useful)
- Plugin SEO Friendly Images (for images)

Don’t start a wordpress blog without them :)

Jeff

June 18th, 2013

Thanks for the great resources! We use backupbuddy, WordPress SEO by Yoast, and Google XML Sitemap on just about every wordpress site we build. WPMUDEV is also a very great tutorial site with legit coding experts that know their stuff.

Chris

June 19th, 2013

Debug I’m not in total agreement with that list.

For the main part W3 Cache isn’t needed unless you have a bundle load of traffic and SEO Friendly Images is just a little lazy in my eyes. Sure you optimise your ALT tags but not as efficiently as doing it yourself.

My top 5 are:

1. Yoast
2. Better WP Security
3. Akismet
4. TinyMCE
5. OZH Drop Down Admin Menu

As seen here: http://www.laboratoryblog.net/five-wordpress-free-plugins/ ;)

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