My WordPress Web Development Tools
The abundant wasted time of developers
Having a web development process means that you are not distracted by all the new gadgets out there, but have adapted a few well and stand by them until there is a need for the upgrade.
I've wasted a lot of time on new fads and gadgets and have tried lots of unnecessary things.
First, I began and swore by the Genesis Framework. Then seeking a more efficient workflow I started using page builders and "helper" themes like Astra, GeneratePress, etc. that give you a bunch of tools to save time. Ultimately this not only presented an unnecessary learning curve, it also took some of the joy away from coding the themes.
So I shifted 180 degrees from "helper" themes, to starter themes like Underscores, Bones, and even progressive starter themes like Sage and Tonik.
This led to the need to have to learn Webpack (I've always been a Gulp guy), which again lead to a lot of wasted time. (Now learning new software is of course a good thing, but it ultimately should be done in the off hours and not introduced in the workflow until one has a good understanding).
Finally, I sought to combine a CSS framework, namely Bulma, to my starter theme workflow. I love Bulma, but there are a few things about it that will not allow it to be my primary go to resource. Also I feel like I'm always fighting against it, even when I set default variables. Anyways, there are great times to use it and I will sometimes, but I've pulled it from my default workflow.
All the above being said, a lot of wasted time, and coming back to a more simplified and enjoyable workflow, I am back, and continue to wholeheartedly stand by, the Genesis Framework.
Why back to the Genesis Framework?
Because it provides a wonderful balance in all aspects:
- There is a child theme for the framework.
- There are not tons of unnecessary theme features that only cater to non-coders.
- 9 years of rock solid performance and progression.
- A column/grid system exists in the framework
- Proper Schema markup
- A "hook" based system
- A team that continues to push the boundaries in every way for the betterment of WordPress
- A brand new, progressive workflow called Genesis Pro Tools that I'm really digging.
My Own WordPress Web Development Tools
So here's my current setup:
– The Genesis Framework. I've always come back to it, and am now here to stay. It's a worthy investment.
– I moved from my own custom starter theme, to Bill Erickson's new starter theme a more minimal Sassified, Gulp-driven Genesis Starter theme. This is actually exactly what I wished a starter theme to be and absolutely love all the features and optimizations in it. The only thing it is missing is a Gulpfile. So I created my own Gulpfile for it. If you are interested, let me know, maybe I'll share it if people seem interested. (I also have the Pro Plus package that includes all themes so I can offer clients particular themes if that is what they wish. Great to have).
– Thrive Architect. I absolutely love Thrive Architect and the philosophy of Thrive in general. Even so much that I've moved away from Elementor because of it. I don't always use it on builds, but when I see it a good fit, I use it to fill in the body of the pages. The front page is usually hand-coded but the others I can fill in with Thrive Architect and it's a lovely combination with Genesis. Again, I don't always use it, but sometimes it fits well. (And it's a one time fee instead of a yearly "subscription" like most of the other builders)
– Gulp. I heard someone say recently that Gulp was "old-school." I completely disagree, for two reasons: #1 Gulp 4 and #2 It's whatever works for you. And Gulp works for me. Also, with Gulp Toolkit, it's easier than ever to get set up.
– Flywheel Hosting. Moving from Siteground to Flywheel alone improved my page speed 20 percent. My own site, as well as all clients whose websites are under my care, are using Flywheel. Thus in my website builds and custom solutions, I build everything locally using Local By Flywheel which syncs with Flywheel such that I can push and pull any changes with a single click. Fabulous.
– Plugins. Genesis Visual Hook Guide to see hook locations, Show Current Template to easily see what template a page is using, and almost always Autoptimize as it just does everything I need to aid in site speed.
And thats it! Simplicity is key. Sure there are little thing here that may be added but the above is the bulk of my WordPress web development tools.
Just remember, if you are using a theme and that theme uses Webpack, be sure you understand it enough to fix it when it breaks. Otherwise, stick to your tried and true methods until you get better up to speed. The client has no clue what you are using in the back-end and the ultimate goal is to provide them with a solution. Most really don't care what tools you use.
Recommended Workflow Resources
Genesis Explained – Your step-by-step guide to Genesis – EBOOK – this is THE go to book for understanding Genesis deeply, from actions and filters to the object oriented classes within it. You will need no other resource but this.
Genesis Pro Tools – this is soon to be a faster and more modern workflow in Genesis Themes and includes Gulp, Composer, and some CLI tools. It is currently in Beta, but you can test it out now. I'm super excited.
The rest of the resources have been listed above.
What are your current WordPress web development tools? What theme do you use? What's your process? Let's discuss below.
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