This page will be dedicated to bringing you my favorite tools and resources. Some of the items on the page will be affiliate links. An affiliate link is just a way for me to make a percentage or a fee if you purchase a product through my link. Two things I’d like to mention here. One, I will never put up an affiliate link for a product or service I don’t recommend and/or use myself. Second, buying through an affiliate link doesn’t add more to your purchase price and in many cases doesn’t give a discount, rather, it’s simply a way for me to get credit for introducing you to a product. Any items on this page that are affiliate links will be identified as such so you don’t feel like you’re being tricked into something. One last thing, if you find the information on this site useful, please do consider purchasing through one of my affiliate links rather than just jumping straight to the site yourself. Not only will you not really gain anything by doing this, but I will also not make my fee for letting you know about the service in the first place! Alright, enough about all that, here’s the list of resources I recommend.
Bluehost Website Hosting (Affiliate Link) – I’ve been a member Bluehost since June of 2005. They’ve been a great company to be with over the past 6 years. They have great tools to make managing your websites easier, they are on top of security issues and they genuinely seem to care about treating their customers right. Bluehost is reliable as well as affordable, a combination that I’m always happy to have.
Catalyst Theme (Affiliate Link) – this is my new favorite theme – I’ve converted 90% of my websites over to this and I won’t be looking back. The ability to customize your theme and layouts without having to go into the HTML/PHP code, and the ability to put a widget or a chunk of code almost anywhere on the page you can imagine, again, without having to dig into the source code of the theme – this is an incredible theme. This site is currently using the Catalyst Theme.
WooThemes (Affiliate Link) – I’ve used several of WooThemes WordPress themes and I can say that they are high quality themes. They provide free and premium (paid) themes and you’ll find that both are very good.
ElegantThemes (Affiliate Link) – ElegantThemes are producers of high quality premium (paid) WordPress themes. ElegantThemes offers some of the best prices in the industry for premium themes and their developer team will actually respond to questions and concerns. Just recently I pointed out that their comment forms were custom coded and not using the built in WordPress functions for generating a form (this killing the ability to use a number of anti-spam plugins) and they updated every single theme in their library to rectify this problem. There’s not many companies out there that care enough to keep their existing customers that happy.
SmashingMagazine WordPress Themes – Smashing Magazine just has a ton of useful information for web designers as well as people just looking to make their sites look the best they possibly can. They have a ton of free resources and I highly recommend checking them out on a regular basis.
I maintain a list of my favorite WordPress plugins here. If I list them, I’ve used them.
Free Software I Recommend
Paint.NET – If you’re using Windows and you’re looking for a free alternative to Photoshop or the likes, this is a fantastic editor that you will feel at home with if you’ve ever used Photoshop or any of the popular photo editing programs. Only for Windows/PC
Inkscape – If you’d like to create some vector graphics for your site, you have an artistic touch, and you don’t want to shell out the bucks for Adobe Illustrator, then you should definitely check this software out. It’s free and it is an incredibly powerful tool. Their built in tutorials are interactive and you can be up and running in a few hours of playing/learning. Works for both Mac and Windows/PC
Paid Software I Recommend
Adobe Photoshop Elements (Affiliate Link) – If you plan on doing any graphical editing yourself and you plan on purchasing website themes or templates from sites such as Elegant Themes, TemplateMonster or any number of other sources, you’ll quickly find out that the de facto standard for website graphics is the PSD format, which is an Adobe specific graphic format. There are PSD plugins for GIMP and Paint.NET, but trust me, they’re almost not worth the time – the layers are not named, organized or laid out the way they are in the original Photoshop file. Unless you’re seriously into PRINT media or more advanced photo editing, Photoshop Elements is all you need, and that can typically be had on sale for anywhere from $50-$80. That’s a far cry from the $800+ that the big-daddy Photoshop costs.