Our favorite WordPress themes, plugins, business software, and digital tools
Finding the best themes and plugins for WordPress can be a pain in the you-know-what. You'll find hundreds of options that seem to do the exact same thing, and it can take hours and hours to sort through them all.
We've been working with WordPress since 2008 and have tried hundreds (and hundreds) of tools along the way. Our biggest takeaways:
- Invest wisely in premium tools, instead of trying to get everything for free. Your investment now will save you time and aggravation later.
- When you find something that works, stick with it as long as it's working for you. Don't jump from tool to tool just because something else looks new and shiny.
Here's a hand-picked list of some of our favorite WordPress themes and plugins and business tools that help us build and design websites.
All of these tools have been fully reviewed and personally used on countless website design projects.
There are two different types of WordPress
There are two versions of WordPress, commonly referred to as the .org and .com versions. The subscription version at WordPress.com is a good option for personal blogs. We use and recommend the self-hosted version of WordPress.org for professional websites:
- WordPress.org - Our preferred website design and development platform for nonprofit organizations and small businesses
PREMIUM TOOLS FOR WORDPRESS
These are some of our tools of choice for enhancing the functionality of WordPress. We have found over and over again that investing in developer-supported high quality software is more than worth the cost of the license.
WordPress Page Builder
- Beaver Builder Pro* - WordPress page builder
- Beaver Themer* - WordPress theme builder that works seamlessly with Beaver Builder
Notes: Elementor and Generate Blocks are also good choices. We do not recommend Divi, WP Bakery, Visual Composer due their use of short codes for content.
- Backup Buddy* - Automated and on-demand website backups
- Updraft Plus
Performance and Security
- iThemes Security Pro* - WordPress website security and monitoring
WordPress Content Enhancements
- Advanced Custom Fields Pro* - Custom fields and post types
- Gravity Forms Pro* - Advanced form builder
- ShortPixel* - Image optimization
- SEOpressPro - Search engine optimization settings
- The Events Calendar Pro and Add Ons - Highly customizable event calendars. The free version is also handy for basic event listing needs.
- WooCommerce and Add Ons - Ecommerce and online sales. Also see: Best WooCommerce Extensions for Fundraising and Donations
- WP Rocket* - Site speed optimization and caching
DOMAIN, HOSTING, & EMAIL
See more on the Surelutions Domain & Web Hosting service page
- Kinsta - Premium WordPress website hosting (our favorite).
- WPEngine - Premium WordPress website hosting (also a good option)
- A2 Hosting - Budget shared website hosting for small websites
These are our go-to domain registrars for new projects:
- Google Domains
Email and related tools
- Gsuite - Get in touch with us if you'd like to sign up for Gsuite. Nonprofits can apply for a free account, and if you are a small business we occasionally have coupon codes for new sign ups.
- Sanebox - This software helps organize your email within Gmail. This referral link will get you a $5 coupon.
NOTE: We recommend keeping your domain, hosting, and email separate whenever possible.
- Adobe Creative Suite - The industry standard for professional print, branding, and digital design. Adobe products can be purchased at a deep discount for nonprofits.
- Canva - Design tool for digital graphics such as social media banners and similar. Canva has a free option for nonprofits.
Also see our "Nonprofit Software Discounts" list
- 1Password - Password management
- ClickUp - Project management
- WAVEapps - Accounting/invoicing
- Zapier - Software integration automation
* Surelutions Care Plans include annual license renewal for themes and plugins marked with an asterisk. Not all client websites use all these tools.
NOTE: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. We may get a small commission or software credit if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through to it. We only share links to products that we personally use and have found to be reliable and high quality.