Tools I Use
Using the right tools is always essential to get things done efficiently.
As a website dedicated to empowering people by teaching website skills, I think it will be helpful if I share the details of the tools I use to run this website.
So, here are the details of what is under the hood of CoralNodes.
That’s obvious; this is a WordPress blog, and most of the articles here are related to WordPress in one way or another. The free and open-source content management system is powering over 30% of the websites, including mine.
Cloudways + DigitalOcean
This blog has been hosted on DigitalOcean’s cloud platform since the beginning, and Cloudways has made it easy to manage it like shared hosting.
While it is a bit more expensive than starter shared hosting plans, using a cloud platform eventually gives more freedom and room for growth.
Any serious website should consider taking regular backups to survive worst-case scenarios.
So far, UpdraftPlus is doing a great job by taking automatic snapshots of the site and sending it to remote storage on Google Drive.
Content Delivery Network
If you are concerned about website speed, then you know the importance of using a CDN. It helps serving images faster to your users while reducing the load on your origin server.
While there are enterprise-level solutions like Cloudfront, I think they are an overkill for most blogs. That’s why I recommend BunnyCDN, and that’s what I use here as well.
Their bandwidth costs are one of the lowest, and performance is on par with the big contenders also.
As a person who has an aversion towards code bloat, I never liked heavy and feature-packed WordPress themes. They make optimization difficult.
In the beginning, I even created a theme based on Underscores for myself to use on personal projects. You can find it on my GitHub repo.
However, it lacked flexibility, as developing a theme requires lots of time and coding efforts. But it indeed helped to keep my blogs as lightweight as possible.
That’s when I came across Astra. The core theme was just under 50Kb, but still, it offers lots of customizations and integrates well with page builders. This page that you are reading right now is built with Elementor and Astra.
Not just Astra, I liked GeneratePress and Neve as well. But Astra’s vast sites library is the main reason for sticking with Astra, as it comes handy while developing client websites.
Analytics & Marketing
Who doesn’t want to know about website traffic? So, Google Analytics is the go-to solution for most things related to that. I also have an article about how to integrate Google Analytics on a WordPress website; check it out as well.
I don’t use it often, but HotJar had helped me to find where my visitors spent most of their time while on a page, and where drop-outs occurred.
HotJar generates heat maps based on the user’s mouse events and scrolling activities.
Google Tag Manager
Sometimes Google Analytics alone may not be sufficient to get all the insights we want. Here, I have been using other tools like HotJar, in addition to GA. Facebook pixel is another marketing tool many people use.
In such cases, modifying the website code every time you want to add a tool is not practical. Google Tag Manager comes handy here. It gives a web interface to manage integrations from the same account. Moreover, it has tight integration with GA, so things like click tracking can be enabled quickly without touching code.
Can you imagine a product review without any images? It will be boring to read, right?
As a blog that contains mainly reviews and how-to-guides, I cannot avoid images, although it makes web pages heavy.
So, proper optimization is the only solution. For that, the ShortPixel WordPress plugin helps to compress all my images as I upload them into the WordPress Media Library. This on-the-go image optimization saves me a lot of time as I don’t need to compress each image manually.
Content Writing & Editing
There is no problem composing your blog posts right in the WordPress editor. But I think Google Docs gives a better writing and editing experience. Maybe that is just a personal preference. So, I write all of the articles in Google Docs before copying it to the WP editor.
Grammarly Spelling & Grammar
After completing the post in Google Docs, the next step is checking for errors. Grammar has always been difficult for me. That’s why I use Grammarly. It may not be perfect, but it gives me more confidence before hitting the publish button.
Their browser extension is still in beta, so I usually copy the content from Docs to Grammarly’s online editor to correct errors.
I regularly take down notes while researching for blog posts. For that, I use Evernote Web. When I am not near a computer, Evernote’s Android app helps to scribble ideas and points. Since it is a cloud platform, everything will be synced across multiple devices.
Yoast is the most popular WordPress SEO plugin available today. Here I am using its free version, which helps set up different things, including title, meta description, schema, and so on.
Other Tools & Plugins
Canva’s ready-made templates and design elements are a time saver. I use its free version often to create thumbnail images and social media posts.
When you have two or more sites, maintenance can be a burden. You need to log in to each dashboard to deal with software updates, spam removal, and so on.
But with ManageWP, you can control all your sites from one place. After connecting your websites to their service, ManageWP can take care of the rest. You can even set it to check for updates automatically, so you don’t need to worry about any outdated software.
Sucuri is a leading WordPress security provider, who offers several services like firewall, reverse proxy, malware cleaning, etc. They also offer a free security plugin, which helps to implement basic hardening on a WordPress site.
Disabling PHP file execution and file integrity checking are some of its features. It also helps to monitor logins, so you can easily detect any suspicious activities on your site.
I don’t use Elementor on all pages, but it is quite useful when I want to create diverse layouts. Unlike other page builders like Beaver Builder, Elementor’s free version includes lots of elements like buttons and icon lists. That’s why I prefer it when the default WordPress editor feels inadequate.