Cloudways is a fantastic bang for your buck. You get Managed WordPress Hosting performance for a fraction of the cost. It’s lightning fast, has free SSL, staging environments, and automatic backups. Support is OK, but still good enough that I'd recommend Cloudways for most people.
If you want to take your hosting to the next level, GridPane is the way to go. It's what I use to host most of my websites now. You pick your server and they add their highly performant stack on top. It's most cost-effective if you manage multiple websites, and want to be more involved in optimizing your servers.
If you host medium-to-enterprise level sites, aren't sensitive about pricing, and would rather not be tinkering around with your servers, check out WP Engine. They're not cheap, but they provide fantastic support and are a good worry-free premium hosting solution.
Oxygen is simply the most powerful website builder for WordPress. While it's not as easy to use for novice users or clients who edit their own site, no other builder matches its performance. It has virtually no bloat and let's you create highly-custom dynamic websites. It's what I use for this site and most client sites.
Elementor is a very good option for the average user. It doesn't offer the same power as Oxygen, but it has plenty of available addons and can be very quick to create standard layouts. I often use Elementor to quickly build landing pages and for sites where the client will be managing the content.
ThriveCart is a great option if you want a checkout system that doesn’t rely on WordPress or WooCommerce. It also comes with upsells, downsells, order bumps, custom checkout forms, and subscriptions, but has a bit less flexibility when it comes to styling. It can currently be purchased for a one-time fee, making the decision virtually a no-brainer.
CartFlows is the best way to create beautiful e-commerce funnels on WordPress. It ties into WooCommerce, allowing you to create custom product pages, checkouts, and thank you pages. It also let's you easily create upsells, downsells, order bumps, and custom checkout forms. If you're using WooCommerce, you should get CartFlows.
Tracking funnel performance using tables (like with Google Analytics) isn’t the most intuitive. Funnelytics is awesome because it lets you map out your entire funnel and see each step’s performance visually. A funnel map has been super handy to include in my proposals, and the statistics help prove my ROI.
ClickFunnels is the 200 pound gorilla. While it doesn't give you full design capabilities or advanced functionality, it’s an easy-to-use tool for your clients to build funnels, collect sales, and even create basic membership sites. It’s used by thousands (if not millions) of marketers, and there are a ton of templates available.
Convertful is a very good popup and opt-in form builder. While most page builders have popups and forms built-in, Convertful's magic sauce is in allowing you to deeply integrate with your email marketing CRM. This lets you show opt-ins based on lists, tags, etc, and create highly targeted calls-to-action.
Server-level caching is where it's at these days, but WP Rocket has introduced a bunch of speed optimization features that make it essential for any website. Including CSS/JS minification, delay JS execution, video lazy-loading, link preloading, CDN integration and more. It works really well with all the hosts I mentioned above.
Optimizing the images on your website is super important for page speed and search rankings. ShortPixel is the best plugin I've tested in terms of reducing file size & ease-of-use, and I use it on all the sites I build. It's also great for automatically converting your images to WebP format - reducing file sizes even further.
I previously used Wordfence, but NinjaFirewall offers a better Web Application Firewall (WAF) at the free level. Its rules are updated every few hours as opposed to every 30 days, and it processes requests before they even reach your website. This allows it to block more attacks and use up less of your server resources.
My go-to form builder. It has an easy-to-use interface, plenty of conditional logic built in, and allows you to create conversational forms (think TypeForm). Its founder is active in the WP community, and the plugin is well supported by most page builders.
Its email editor could use a face-lift, but ActiveCampaign is one of the more powerful email marketing platforms out there. You’re able to build complex automations and it integrates with most other marketing tools. ActiveCampaign is my current choice for any business that isn’t an ecommerce store.
FluentCRM made a splash when it launched in late 2020. Most ESPs can get really expensive the more contacts you add. The beauty of FluentCRM is that it's self-hosted - you pay one flat price whether you have 100 subscribers or 100k subscribers.
If you run a traditional Shopify or WooCommerce store, Klaviyo will provide the deepest integration. Its UI can be a little primitive at times, but compared to Mailchimp or most other email marketing platforms, you’re able to build some really advanced flows.
Figma is life. Along with Oxygen, it's easily one of my favorite pieces of software. You’re able to quickly create pixel perfect web & app designs, and it’s much more efficient than using something like Photoshop. All my site builds get designed in Figma first. Their free plan is very generous and 100% usable.
Envato Elements is a handy resource to have for a wide variety of graphical assets. It’s a monthly subscription, but you have unlimited access to all their graphics, videos, stock photos, sound effects, templates, fonts etc.
ui8 is similar to Envato Elements, but has fewer, more premium resources. It has some beautiful modern web/app UI kits, icon sets, mockups, illustrations, and templates. You can choose to buy items individually or get an all-access pass.
ClickUp is one of the most powerful project management tools out there. They add new features at an insane pace and are very receptive to the community's feedback.
Notion is a beautiful productivity tool. It's like a Google Docs + Trello + Excel + Evernote combined. It's great to use as a daily journal, to-do list, habit tracker, goal planner, and a place to keep track of any thoughts that float across your mind. It works well for both personal use and business teams.
Bonjoro allows you to send customers/contacts personalized videos in an easy & automated fashion. It sends you a notification when a contact meets your trigger criteria, you record the quick video through their app, and they send it out automatically. It’s a great way to engage your audience.
If you need an advanced accounting platform, Xero is the winner. It has the best multi-currency features of all the platforms I've tested, it directly integrates with a ton of bank accounts, and you’re able to use your own Stripe and PayPal accounts to accept payments on your invoices. For me, these features make it worth the price over Wave.