The ONLY Website Tools You’ll Need When You DIY

Tools & Resources, Website Planning, Working with WordPress

Over the years of helping folks to build remarkable websites, I’ve heard many saddening stories that have prevented some from starting their business.

One that comes to mind is about a lovely lady who had been trying to build her website for almost a year and she was ready to throw it all in. She was tired. Frustrated. Burnt out. And had frittered away close to $1,000 on stuff she “thought” she needed. But most saddening of all, she had gotten to the point that her dream of starting her own business wasn’t worth the trouble anymore.

As our conversation went on, it became clear to me that her real problem was she simply didn’t know what she needed know.


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She had spent the year going down different rabbit holes to figure stuff out.

She didn’t know what website tools she needed and because of that, she had become a total info junkie, learning and researching about EVERYTHING but implementing nothing. That’s really what sent her on the steep decline to her current situation. And I don’t want that to happen to you.

Knowing what tools are important, understanding why you need them and then, knowing how to implement them is paramount to moving through the website phase much faster and with greater ease.

So in this post, I’m going to share with you the list of website tools I use/have used in the past to build online homes for my clients. I’ve broken them down into 3 categories //


Deciding which website tools you really need and how to bring them all together is essential to setting up your online home without the pain, frustration and face-palms. Knowing what tools are important, understanding why you need them and then, knowing how to implement them is paramount to moving through the website phase much faster and with greater ease.

The essentials

GreenGeeks website hosting


Hosting is vital. Website hosting can be thought of like the land your home occupies. Without the land, you can’t build a home right? It’s really the space you buy on a web server to store your website files so they can be accessed.


When someone looks up your website (via your domain name which we’ll talk about next) your website hosting is the reason they can access it.

Without website hosting no one will be able to see your website.


Believe it or not, your website will have a carbon footprint which can have a huge impact on our environment. But over at GreenGeeks, they are dedicated to putting back 3x the energy they use that not only negates their (our) carbon footprint but also the footprint of 2 similar sized businesses. You can read more about their commitment to our Planet here.


Hosting with GreenGeeks is $9.95 per month but you can get it for as little as $3.96 depending on the length of service you commit to.

Domain name


Sticking to the “home” theme, a domain name (aka URL) is your virtual address on the Internet. It’s also the name a person types into their browser that is unique to you/your business.


Just like website hosting, having a domain name is vital for your website to be found and accessed on the Internet. Without it, no one will be able to find you.


To register a domain would usually cost $10-20 per year but when you sign up for GreenGeeks website hosting you also get a free domain name included. Having these bundled together makes expense tracking so much easier. So, as long as your hosting is up to date, you don’t need to worry about renewing your domain name.


There is usually a bit of confusion when it comes to WordPress because there are two sites, and WordPress.Org. They are both created by the same people except they have different business models.
For clarity’s sake, we’ll be talking about WordPress.Org


WordPress is a content management system and it’s “THE” most popular website creation tool available today.


There are plenty more reasons why you need WordPress but here are my top 3:

  • It’s easy – You don’t need to be an expert to setup, maintain and update your website with WordPress.
  • It’s free – WordPress is open source which means that unlike other website building platforms you’re free to use it however you like, without any restrictions and limitations.
  • It’s powerful – Unlike other website building platforms that lock you under concrete ceilings in terms of what you can and can’t do with their service, WordPress was built to be extended whenever and however you like. This means that you can start off small and when you’re ready to grow and expand, you’re free to do so whenever and however you like. This is made possible with the many plugins available in the WordPress repository.

Not good enough reasons? Well, here’s 10 more good reasons to fall in love with WordPress.


Free. Forever!
In next week’s post, I’ll be walking you through how to setup hosting and installing WordPress so if you haven’t subscribed yet, get on the list here

WordPress Premium theme


A WordPress premium theme provides the overall design of your website which includes the way your pages are laid out. If you change your theme, your content will remain the same but the layout and style of your website will change.


Although there are thousands of free WordPress themes available, here’s a few very good reasons why you should avoid them:

  • There’s the risk that you could be downloading malicious code if you download from sources outside of the WordPress repository.
  • Weeding out the good from the poorly written free themes is a time suck.
  • They usually come with no support meaning, you’re on your own if the shit hits the fan.
  • There are hundreds of issues that can arise from using an out of date theme and the only way to rectify those is with regular theme updates in sync with the WordPress core updates. Free themes are likely to be updated less often than premium themes because, well… they’re free! It takes time and money for a developer to keep their products updated and their free products are likely to be the last on their to do list.
  • It might be free now but you’ll likely pay later with time, money and frustration.

On the other hand, there are many good reasons why you should invest in a premium WordPress theme:

  • Better Security – Security is always an issue where the internet is concerned and you can bet there’s hooligans out there who have nothing better to do than crack a code to wreck some internet havoc! Which is why, theme developers are always on the lookout for ways to improve security and fix vulnerabilities as they arise.
  • Frequent updates – For theme developers, creating top notch themes is their bread and butter so, it’s in their best interest to keep their product up to date with the WordPress core. Not doing so would leave their customers open to all kinds of problems and would have a terrible impact on their business.
  • Quality – Generally, the quality of a premium WordPress theme is much better. The more people invest in the theme, the more incentive there is for the developer to make it even better.
  • Easier to customise – Most premium themes sport intuitive interfaces that make it easier to customise the design and formatting to your liking.
  • Better support – A premium WordPress theme will come with support in some form or another. It’s much better to be able to get (often timely) support from the developers of a theme than to be left trawling the internet for hours at a time looking for solutions to your problems.


Thesis – Thesis is my go-to. It’s not a theme but more a framework that I use to build all my client sites. Although I do love and highly recommend it, you will need to know basic CSS & html languages in order to get the most out of it. I’m going to assume that neither of those languages are in your toolbox just yet and in that case, I do have another recommendation.

Divi – I test drove the Divi theme from Elegant Themes on a client site and found it to be so versatile. There of course, was a learning curve as with any new thing you learn. But once you’re familiar with it, the sky’s the limit. The possibilities really are endless with the Divi theme but the best part is, it’s ideal for users of all skill levels.


  • Thesis – One time payment of $87
  • Divi – $69 per year OR $249 one time payment

Email Marketing Service (Mailchimp – of course!)

an email marketing service helps you to stay in touch with those who are interested in what you’re offering.


An EMS like Mailchimp lets you collect data like names and email addresses of those who are interested in what you’re offering so you can nurture those leads into buyers by letting them get to know, like and trust you through regular emails.
You can design your emails to match that of your branding and write a single email to send to hundreds or thousands at a time while tracking which ones went well and which ones didn’t while also seeing who’s opening them and whose not. All very important information to keep track of.


Mailchimp is the perfect EMS to start with in the early stages of building a business.
It’s easier to use than some of the others out there. It’s interface is user friendly and best of all it’s free!


Mailchimp has a “Free Forever” plan (up to 2,000 subscribers), perfect for early business builders.

Payment Processor (PayPal)


A payment processor is a company that handles credit and debit card transactions.


If you’re selling anything, you’ll need to have a way to get paid. That’s what PayPal and other payment processors do. They let folks pay you for your product or service easily.


Although there are many payment processors out there, most people have a PayPal account so your customers are already familiar with it. It’s also very easy to set up with your website and offers your customers various ways to pay including through their own PayPal account and credit/debit cards.


Free to set up however, you will pay anywhere from 1.9% – 3.4% per transaction.


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Tools for creating website graphics

Every website needs good graphics that compliment your brand and nowadays, there’s so many amazing graphic tools available (free and paid) so I guess the choice really comes down to budget and ease of use.

Before I made the move to premium graphic tools, I used many free tools. In doing so, I found that usually a combination of tools were required to complete a graphic because that’s just the nature of free stuff – There’s always something missing. So I’m going to share with you my go to combination.


Pixlr has been around for years and is one of the more impressive online image editors in regards to how creative you can get.
It’s feature rich with tools you won’t find in its other free counterparts. The downside to this is it can be a little foreign for newcomers at first but once you understand how to use it, you’ll be good to go.


I jumped into Canva for one reason and one reason only, because it was easy to use.
It’s intuitive and it’s interface is a lot more user-friendly than Pixlr. My normal routine would be to start a design in Canva and move it to Pixlr when I needed to have more control, for example, if I needed to cut out objects or people or use fonts that weren’t available in Canva. I could do that stuff in Pixlr.

Premium graphic tools (nice to have but not essential)

In the beginning, premium graphic tools aren’t necessary but for those of you who are over the constant hustle of switching from editor to editor, or losing your work from unexpected crashes and just the sheer annoyance of having to use free tools in your browser,  I’m going to give you a couple of premium options too.


Adobe’s Photoshop holds the lion’s share in the graphic design space. It’s a full suite of tools that can do the job of both the free tools mentioned above and then some. It does take a while to get the hang of it but if you understand how to use Pixlr, you will have the advantage.

Affinity Designer

Recently I found Affinity Designer which is in its infancy but straight out of the box, it looked like it could give Photoshop a good run for it’s money. The only downside is that’s it’s only available on Mac. However, I’ve been using it a lot more than I have Photoshop these days for a few reasons:

  • The interface is a lot more streamlined.
  • It’s compatible with Photoshop and Illustrator files.
  • It crashes less often than Photoshop and can handle a lot more tasks.
  • No ongoing fees


  • Photoshop – $9.95 per month
  • Affinity Designer – Only available for Mac. One time payment of $69


Download the Website Tools Checklist


Time Saving Website Tools

I do owe a lot to some small, little known website tools that really take the pinch out of the small, repetitive web development tasks. They may not sound like a big deal, but believe me, when you’re in the thick of developing a site, these tools will save you a ton of time.

Firefox Browser

There’s always a bit of rivalry when it comes to which browser developers choose but, the race is always between Chrome & Firefox. I guess it comes down to personal choice at the end of the day and for that reason, Firefox is my go to browser. It has an awesome range of web developer tools which you can access from right inside the browser including the following…


Firebug let’s you edit the CSS & HTML of  any webpage which is so handy when you want to preview a new color or font on your site or move elements around without committing to any permanent changes.

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You can build a whole website with the help of Firebug which is pretty much why I use it. When you’re happy with the way your page looks, you can simply copy the code you’ve written in Firebug and paste it into your websites style sheet to make the changes permanent.


Colorzilla is another handy tool to have in your toolbox. It helps you find the hex code of any color on any website.

Here’s an example of how I use it:

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Let’s say I’m creating a inspiration board in Pinterest and I want to start picking colors for my color palette. I can just click on my Colorzilla tool (eye dropper icon), then hover over the image until I find the shade I’m interested in and that’s where I click. The hex code for that color will be copied to my clipboard for me to paste where ever I need to put it.


The measuring tool is another of my favorite tools from the Firefox web developer suite. It helps me to be sure that all my elements are perfectly aligned, to the pixel! For example; I might sense that the top of my images are slightly out of alignment with each other. I can run my MeasureIt ruler where I need them to line up and see whether they are or not.

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Want to learn how to put some of these website tools to work for you?

Stay tuned! In the following post I’ll show you how to set up a WordPress website for the best start in business AND in less than 30 minutes! Stay tuned!

I’ve also created a website tools checklist for you – you can download it below.


Have you downloaded The Essential Website Planning Checklist yet?

I invite you to go ahead and do than now. 

Discover what it really takes to build a website that actually works to meet your goals.



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