WP Sites WordPress Tools Box

You’ve probably noticed i keep referring to the different tools i use in my video’s and blog posts.

Rather than sound like a broken record, i thought i’d write a list of all the different tools i use for WordPress.

I’ll also explain a little bit about what i use them for.

Awesome Screenshot

Free browser extension which i use for screen shots.

Not as good as Snagit.

Instant WP

A free application for installing WordPress on your local computer.

I’ve tried WAMP & XAMP but instantwp is the fastest and easiest way to install multiple WordPress installations locally.


One of the best free web design tools for Windows.

I use Paint to create featured images for all my posts. I’ve added custom fonts and a few extra plugins. Sometimes i use it for creating headers.

Great stepping stone to Photoshop which provides many of the basic features included in Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop

I’m no expert with Adobe Photoshop but i do use it on a regular basis for slicing and extracting images from PSD files.

They do offer a helpful forum which is good when you get stuck.

Backup & Migration

BackupBuddy is an excellent plugin for beginners who want to migrate to a new host/server or change domain names.

I’ve used this plugin dozens of times because it makes migrations so much easier and faster.

Another alternative for more advanced users which i highly recommend is WP Migrate DB.


Bluehost provide excellent shared hosting for multiple sites and are the best for this type of hosting.

They also offer the easiest way for beginners to install WordPress in one click.

I use Bluehost for hosting smaller sites and a couple of demo sites for testing purposes.

Code Pasting

Pastebin is a free online tool which enables you to create iFrame or Javascript for embedding your code into a website or blog.

Another advantage of using a free tool like this is the exposure your code gets. Some code authors get tens of thousands of hits every 72 hours if the code they paste is popular.

You can also link to your code on paste bin rather than embed it in WordPress which can cause problems sometimes.

Another code pasting tool you may like is snippi.com


ColorZilla is a free browser extension for finding out color codes on different sites. Comes in really handy when customizing colors on a website.

Color Tools

Hex codes for colors come in handy especially when you’re customizing a theme.

Its not always easy to work out the RGB for a color or extract colors from an image.

That’s the reason i’ve put together a list of different color tools which anyone can access quickly and easily.

CSS 3 Generators

There’s some excellent free online code generators which produce CSS code.

Its easy to create some fancy effects with these tools as all you need to do is add your class to the code.

Drop box

Free storage which is comes in handy for storing backup files and media files as well as sharing files which are too large to send via email.


I use the premium version of this very basic but excellent screen casting tool. I did test out Camtasia which is a great software however just find it better to focus on learning more about WordPress rather than be a Camtasia expert.

Offers both a free and premium version which is easily affordable.


Free email subscription service from Google. Good way to manage your RSS feed.

I like Feedburner and integrate it with the Genesis e-news extended widget now.


Excellent free FTP program for transferring files to and from your local computer and web server.

Since i do a lot of work locally with instantwp, i don’t use Filezilla as much as i used too however do use SFTP several times  day.


Excellent free web design tool for inspecting and making changes to your websites code in real time.

I’ve been using this tool for a while now and starting to master it. If you’re new to web design and want to learn CSS, i highly recommend Firebug.


One of the best free code hosting sites.

I host over one hundred code snippets here and embed them in my site as well as other sites. If you make a mistake in your code you can always fix it and all your embeds will update. Its also a great way to embed different types of code and displays them nicely without messing up your site or someone else’s.

Gravity Forms

The most popular premium plugin for WordPress is also the best forms plugin.

I use this plugin to create custom forms which include conditional logic so different fields are displayed. Integrates with PayPal, Aweber, MailChimp and many other products and services.

Logitech Headset with Mic

Good cheap headset i use when making video’s.

Filters out the noise of the computers fan and the head phones are really good if you’re watching a video which has low sound.

I know they have better models with USB connections which i will be upgrading to at some point.


Premium email marketing service which offers a free account for up to 2000 subscribers. You also get 12,000 free send per month.

The biggest problem i have with MC is the forms or lack of them. Not sure why they don’t create great forms like Aweber as i know the subscriptions rates are better with Aweber.

MailChimp have just launched the new drag and drop design tool which is excellent. Makes creating really nice emails so much faster and easier.

Integrates with the Genesis e-news widget and other subscription form plugins.

Thinking of going back to Aweber for a month as its only $1 for the first month and seeing what the results are.

Notepad ++

Excellent free text editor which i use to open different file types like CSS code.

The search feature is really good to quickly find the lines of code you want to edit. I also use this when moving code from one CSS or PHP file to another with different child themes.


I’m addicted to new plugins and test new one’s each day of the week on my local installation.

Here’s the list of active plugins i use on WP Sites which changes every week.

You can right click my homepage to view the source code and see which plugins i am using at that time.

Power Point Single & Multi Page Sketch Templates

These templates make it super easy to create a mock up for single and multi page websites templates.


The best screen capture software made by CamTasia. Its a premium download but well worth it. Try for 30 days free and i’m sure you will agree.


I really like Jetpack stats and also use Google Analytics which is like chalk and cheese.

Quick glance at my stats directly in the dashboard. I find GA really good for weekly and monthly stats for traffic sources and keyword queries.

I have setup 2 GA accounts on the same domain which record different stats so i know its not totally accurate.


I use Google Docs Slide Shows & Slideshare.

The advantage of using Google Docs Slide Shows is they don’t display other peoples slide shows after your has ended unlike Slideshare.

The advantage of using Slideshare is you get a lot of exposure as they are a well known brand and also offer a Pro version.

Themes & Framework

I choose the Genesis theme framework and StudioPress themes for WP Sites.

Currently designing a new child theme for the Genesis theme framework which is made easy when you own the Pro Plus package.

This package includes all StudioPress themes now and in the future at a one off investment that’s gold in my opinion, now and for the future.

I use the CSS and PHP code from multiple themes to create a custom site. This is one of the easiest and best ways to learn coding & all the code works well together on the Genesis framework.

Tools from WP Gear

Excellent range of useful developer tools for working with WordPress. Tools include base Tools, debug Tools, PHP boilerplate and themes you can use to build your own theme from scratch.

Tortoise SVN Client

If you host a plugin in the official WordPress directory, you’ll need to use a subversion (svn) client to check-in files to the remote plugin repository.

Turtoise is a great little client application which makes transferring files to and from your plugin repository easy.


WP Sites is sponsored by WPEngine and receives a WordPress Developers account (invite only). If they weren’t the fastest web host for WordPress, i would host a smaller blog with them and move my main site some where else.

The service is one on one and fully managed meaning its not the same as shared, VPS or a dedicated server. Love these guys after the 18 months of slowness i experienced before making the move.

$30 a month for the cheapest plan is a lot more than you’d pay for shared hosting, but so is the speed, service and security.

Coupon wpsites: You can try them for $5 a month for the first 3 months and save $25 a month.

If you like them, you can also pay yearly and get 2 months free which means you can get nearly 5 months worth of premium hosting for free.

Better than VPS in my opinion.

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  1. Larry James says

    It always interests me to find out which tools web designers and developers have in arsenal. I use most of the tools your do, so it would be quicker for me to tell you the ones I do not use.

    First of all, I don`t use Instant WP because I have not heard of it before, but I am going to give it a try.

    I do not use ScreenCast-O-Matic, I use Camtasia. I may give ScreenCast-O-Matic a try though because I have to re-learn how to use it every time I try to record a screencast.

    I do not use Filezilla. It is not because I do not like it, I just never gave it much of a try. I use WinSCP as my Free FTP program, I love it.

    I do not use WPEngine as my webhost, I still have shared hosting, but I will talk to you when I am ready to upgrade.

    And last but not least, I do not use Logitech Headset with Mic. I use my Webcam’s mic, and no headset. It is an idea I may try though.

    I didn’t go to look at which plugins you use, but I always set up JetPack Stats for my clients on thier WordPress sites. It is much easier for them to see thier traffic stats in their dashboard, than Google Analytics is.

    • Brad Dalton says

      Did you see these tools from Tools from WP Gear Larry? They have a base theme file structure you can use to build your own parent theme which is pretty cool. I’ve already completed all the templates and now working on custom hooks to make it like Genesis. I think the CSS will be the biggest challenge for me.

      Not sure about Twitter Bootstrap. Do you now much about it?

  2. Saikrishna says

    Thanks for sharing all the list of tools, I like InstantWp tool it’s a handy tool to install WP in seconds ;)

    • Brad Dalton says

      Yeah its a great little tool that makes it super easy to install WordPress locally.

      Thanks for the comment Saikrishna.

  3. Gregg says

    Brad have you checked out DeskTop Server? I have been using it for over a year and it fantastic for setting up local WordPress installs. I think you will like it better then InstantWP.

  4. Eamon Moriarty says

    I use a Mac almost exclusively so Instant WP won’t work for me. At present I use Xampp which works OK but I would like to try a more convenient alternative.
    Any suggestions?

  5. pollyalida says

    Whoops! Your CSS3 section links right back to this page. Thanks for sharing so many great tips, videos and resources!

  6. Zimbrul says

    I use many of the tools you mention and for images I use IrfanView-extremely easy to do re-size, crops and simple stuff to existing images.
    I just recently started to use Instant WP and the only drawback it could be that you only can have one site per installation.
    I had an awful experience with Backup Buddy: almost none of the sites on which I used it managed to perform as expected and the backups failed. I only use WP Twin: best backup solution for cloning WordPress sites I can say. Pricey, though…
    Also, not great experience with Bluehost as they use to charge you extra AFTER you place the order. And they don’t show you the final figure at checkout so you basically don’t know how much you are going to be charged. I used Hostgator and still use them and I can give them 5 out of 5 stars for the uptime, support, speed, etc. Really pleased with them.

        • Brad Dalton says

          Tried the free version which is pretty good.

          Sounds like the premium version is a bit like Microsoft Web Matrix which also enables you to deploy WordPress from your local machine to a live web server.

          • Steve says

            Unlike WebMatrix, ServerPress’ solution works just like the most popular hosting providers simply using Apache, MySQL, PHP.

            You won’t be burdened with WebMatrix’s Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Tools, MS-SQL Services, IIS, ASP, or .Net Runtimes (WordPress uses MySQL versus MS-SQL and the extra “reporting tools”, nor does it need Active Server Pages technology and runtimes -that’s a lot of overhead with WebMatrix!).

          • Brad Dalton says

            Yep. Good point Steve.

            Webmatrix is not well supported or easy to use based on my experience.

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