WordPress Tools

This site uses a number of WordPress tools – as well as some more general tools. For each I list why I use it (basic needs), the name and type (external server, plugin or PC program) of the tool and a description and evaluation.

Basic Needs Tool Used Description and Evalution
Create Website WordPress At WordPress.com you can create a simple site for blogging, that is also hosted there. At WordPress.org you can fetch a more advanced DIY package to install on a webserver.
The WordPress FrontEnd is your actual website, while the BackEnd is the web-based environment you create it in. Advanced users may customize the backend to fit other users in the organization.
Host Website Provider If you don’t run your own server, you will pay someone to do it for you. They may also help with buying/moving a domain-name. They typically also give you some tools that can setup Apache’s “.htaccess” and other files outside the WP installation. And backup, DNS and SSL…
I use one.com who – like many others – offers a one-click install for the basic WordPress. Thus you don’t need to fetch it at WordPress.org and upload it.
WordPress Look & Feel Themes WordPress Themes help you design the overall L&F. Be sure to create a “Child Theme” (there are plugins for this, but it can also be done manually). This allows you to keep your customization when you update the theme. If you switch theme, your content survives in the database, but the menu-system typically does not. In your child theme you make files with same name as the parent – treated as follows:
– style.css: Parent version is loaded first, then child version. Child styles that have same name as in the parent version, replace the parent style (like virtual functions in OOP). In other words, the child file can contain new styles and redefined styles.
– functions.php: Both child and parent version is loaded and used together. Child functions should have new names – name clash is bad. So you only add new functions.
– All other files: Only the child version is used if similar names occur. Typically you start with a copy of the parent.
Content Structure Pages, Posts, Menu WordPress was originally created for blogging, and Posts were in focus. You can also create Pages. The menu system is used to organize the pages, while the posts appear in the menu as a time-ordered stack with a single entry to the newest post on top. Posts are pushed to other places via RSS feed. In my case they can be seen at Amazon.
You should use pages for long-lasting stuff and posts like a newspaper. Personally, I have dropped posting.
Search Engine Optimization,
Advice on improvements
Yoast Plugin I am pretty satisfied with the Yoast plugin – even though you cannot really judge its value. It comes up with suggestions on how to improve readability, it helps you make a “Focus Phrase” and other meta-stuff, and it creates and updates your sitemap so that Google knows about your new pages and posts. See yoast.com. Yoast also recommends a readable slug (The URL after https://<yoursite>). If you change this after other pages have linked to it you will get broken links (see further down).
Caching for speed WP Super Cache Plugin In WordPress, all pages and posts only exist in the database. When a user requests an URL, the HTML is created. This separates code from content and usually makes it easier to drop a plugin and use another. However, speed suffers from this build-on-every read. Therefore you need a cache that keeps the built HTML-pages for the next visitor. I originally used WP Super Cache.
Another popular cache plugin is “W3 Total Cache”. If you run an international business you might also need CDN (Content Delivery Network). This keeps copies of your site close to any customer. It usually costs. My provider offers “Varnish”, and with that I have dropped the other cashes.
Avoid Spam Akismet
I don’t have a very visible blog-site, but nevertheless Akismet has blocked a lot of comments that in reality were advertisements and links for useless products.
Backup, Export All-In-One-WP-Migration
This is a nice tool that compresses all pages & posts (in the database), menu-system and configurations into a single file. This can be downloaded and used on a local server (see XAMPP) or used as backup.
Filezilla File-Copy
PC Program
Filezilla is not a WordPress Tool, but a general program you can install freely on your PC/Mac. This allows you to pull files from the server, work locally (e.g with notepad++), test locally if you want to, and push them back. See https://filezilla-project.org
https and http2 Really-Simple-SSL Plugin

A professional site should use SSL – giving you the padlock sign next to your URL in the browser. This requires a certificate that your hosting provider typically already has. This plugin converts to https and this again opens up for the faster http version. Note that there is a small speed bump in this procedure, as the plugin changes http to https on the fly.

I later converted the site to https “for real” and got rid of “Really Simple SSL” – see WordPress Logbook – but I am not sure it’s worth the trouble.

Optimize scripts for speed Autoptimize +
Async JavaScript

Autoptimize helps you speed up your site. This is kinda complex to configure and your site can break. It can clash with your Theme etc. However, you can always deactivate it again.
The same developer has created “Async JavaScript”, which sort of extends Autoptimize, by running scripts – optimally when they are needed, not when loaded.

Also these Plugins were later removed as they interfered with other plugins.

Statistics on visits Google Analytics

You need to create a free account at GA and submit your sitemap. Yoast can help with this process. Once done, you can follow visits on your PC or smartphone daily. GA is also a good place to learn what slows down your site. It analyzes your site and suggests improvements.

Google is driving us all towards GA4. It has created a lot of work, and in my site I haven’t experienced the benefits yet. Quite the opposite.

Statistics on Search Google Search Console
Also here you need a free account. This will help you analyze what brought visitors to your site.
Tags and Events Google Tag Manager Server (and Plugin)

You can stitch variables, triggers and tags together in advanced systems without writing any code in Google Tag Manager. Again you need a free account in this system. This might end up as a good tool, but currently I find it error-prone and not easy to understand. There is a WP-plugin of the same name that helps you insert the “container” script code needed to support the GTM.

With GA4 it became very complex.

Dashboard Google Site Kit
WP has a nice dashboard that helps you develop your site, and it may be all you need. If however, you subscribe to all the Google tools, you might like this plugin that aggregates the headlines from all these and shows it inside your WP console.
Local web server XAMPP
PC program
XAMPP is a full solution for a webserver built on Apache. You only need it if you want to try running locally – e.g. before big changes. See https://www.apachefriends.org/index.html
Block referrer spam and the like Stop Bad Bots
Some people setup robots that does a lot of garbage connections to real sites, where they leave an URL as referrer – hoping to score some cheap points at Google. It doesn’t really work like that anymore, but the traffic is still there – and it is annoying.
Resize Images ?

Google Analytics will tell you to shrink your images. Some plugins do that automatically when you upload your image, but I have not have much luck with these tools. If you create images in a drawing tool, it might also be the place to resize. If you like command-line tools, I can recommend ImageMagick. The rule of thumb is to have photos as jpg and figures in png. GA also suggests new formats like jpg 2000 and webP. Only problem is that different browsers support different formats. There are plugins that will help you shrink and serve the right format to the given browser. I tried:
– Imagify. Did not change anything.
– Optimole. Got slower, and some PNGs did not draw at all.

File Management File Manager
This file-manager does what it is supposed to. You can move, delete, rename files etc. It is also easy to upload a single file by drag’n drop. In the long run I prefer to use FileZilla and notepad++ together.
Find broken links brokenlinkcheck.com
Internal as well as external links may break. Go to https://brokenlinkcheck.com and type in the URL of your site to detect broken links.
Site Search Ivory Search
In my theme (2017), the posts have a sidebar with a search field. However, when pages are used, there is no search-field for the user. This plugin allows me to have a search field in the menu, and do some excludes of posts in the search – and more.
Math expressions KatEx Plugin The KatEx plugin shows nice math. When using the Gutenberg block editor you even see it in the backend when editing. Make sure to set the checkmark that assures that stylesheets & fonts for math are only loaded when used. Then check that this has no side-effects.
CSS Display Style I experiment with CSS to utilize the various screens (PC, Phone) better.
My current recommendations.

The above table is sort of my current knowledge. I do a chronological log of the whole thing at https://klauselk.com/wordpress-logbook/.