I know there is a lot of advice out there about the best way to build your next website, and today I’m chiming in with my two cents. From page builders to blocks, I’ve honed my skills and refined my workflow over time and found there are several benefits to using a consistent website stack. What exactly is a website stack? It’s pretty simple. A website stack is a combination of technologies and tools that I use to create client websites. While I work in, and maintain, websites that have been created with other tools, over the years, I’ve refined how I prefer to work and what makes the most sense for the types of websites that I build for authors and personal brands.
My criteria for a tool comes down to a few factors.
Compatibility – By using a consistent website stack, I can, in most cases, be sure that the tools I use work together and are compatible with each other. As I make updates to my staging site, I can then tell whether my client sites will update smoothly or if I need to hold off on updating certain plugins and wait for bug fixes.
Efficiency – Using a consistent website stack improves my efficiency because it streamlines my workflow. This not only benefits me while I’m building websites, but it benefits my clients since they can expect a must faster turnaround. I know the stack very well and clients don’t end up waiting for me to get through a learning curve with a new tool.
Performance – The tools that I’ve chosen to use in my website stack are all tools that I am confident have been created by the developers with performance in mind. Not all themes and plugins take performance into consideration and they can, in fact, be taxing on your website causing it to slow down. A slower website is not ideal for visitors or SEO.
Support – This is a huge factor for me. By using the same stack on almost all of my client websites, if I do run into a problem or bug, I know exactly where to go and who to reach out to for a solution. When there is a strong community around a theme or plugin, I can get support from the developer themselves or from a community member who is also using the tool daily.
So what is my actual website stack? The first thing to remember is that a website is much more than a beautiful design and words on the page. A website needs to be built with some basic functionality including things like SEO, spam blocking, and performance optimization.
The following is categorized by what the actual tool or technology does for me. Keep in mind, this is a very surface-level overview and every website designer has their own set of tools that they use and my list will no doubt look different.
I build most websites using WordPress. It is my go-to for clients who want a platform that is flexible and gives them the ability to grow their website as their business grows.
Theme and Builder
In the past, I’ve built websites using Divi, and I still maintain those sites for my clients. A few years ago, I moved to the GeneratePress theme, and as WordPress moves to block-based systems (which I LOVE), GeneratePress still works beautifully. I don’t have any doubts that GeneratePress was built with performance and accessibility in mind. The team behind GeneratePress are thoughtful in their development and it shows. In addition to the theme, I have moved from Elementor to using a combination of Kadence Blocks and GenerateBlocks in my own website and my client sites. Using GenerateBlocks and Kadence has increased performance in every website I build.
I really like Anti-Spam Bee to stop spam comments, however, if I need something that helps to eliminate spam comments and reduce form submission spam, I turn to WPArmour. Both of these plugins has served me well with little to no problem or compatibility issues.
Yes, I know there are tons of SEO options and everyone has their favorite. For me that is SlimSEO. SlimSEO doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the more popular tools, but if you need a quick and easy way to add a meta title and data, as well as social sharing images to pages and posts, SlimSEO is super-light and easy to use. Side note, I also use the Slim SEO Link Manager for care plan client sites.
I don’t always find the need to add a plugin for social sharing buttons, but when I do, Novashare is the one. This plugin is perfect for clean, beautiful social share buttons. The plugin does exactly what it’s supposed to do and is super-lightweight.
Most times, form submissions from your WordPress website won’t make it to your inbox unless you set up SMTP records correctly. And setting everything up using Postmark is easy and helps ensure those messages reach your inbox.
Performance and Optimization
Like SEO, there are tons of performance plugins available, and a few that I really like, but my preference is Perfmatters for all of the reasons I mentioned above. Perfmatters not only does an amazing job helping you to optimize your website but the developers build tools intentionally and are happy to help when needed.
This is a really big piece of the website puzzle and one that isn’t always easy to get right. If I have a client who chooses to not go on a care plan with me, I will add WordFence to their site. WordFence notifies them when something may be wrong and does a great job of scanning for issues. However, I suggest all websites be behind Cloudflare to secure and optimize the website. My client sites absolutely use Cloudflare when possible. In addition, I then add Malcare (BlogVault) to my care plan clients sites for firewall protection and to scan for, and remove, malware when needed.
Not all of the tools I use are free. In fact, most of them have annual or monthly fees associated with them, but using paid versions of these plugins supports the developers behind them and creates an ecosystem that allows them to provide the support needed to ensure they are kept up to date.
There are a ton of variables when it comes to building a website. Some need ecommerce support. Others need membership support. But when it comes to a consistent website stack, or starting point, the above tools have definitely helped me to create a streamlined workflow with tools and technologies that I can rely on by developers that I trust to support them.
DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my links here. I only recommend products that I personally use and that help my grow and streamline my business. You can read my full disclosure here.