I'm creating WordPress websites like this one on a daily basis. I have my preferences when it comes to picking a theme and plugins to build the perfect WordPress site. Here's the starter stack I'm currently using, for almost every project.
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Divi by Elegant Themes. It's the best theme I've used so far to create a WordPress site, supported by a great company and a strong community.
If you're building multilingual websites, I strongly advise you to use WPML. It requires a yearly subscription but it's truly worth it.
If you face any issue, they provide outstanding support. They'll give you clear indications to solve your problem, will provide snippets of code and will even fix some bugs. I always install the basic plugin + 2 add-ons to manage string translations and the overall translation process (see screenshot).
If you're serious about your business, you need to look after your SEO. The most used plugin on the planet is Yoast SEO, which you can download straight from WordPress repository.
There are multiple ways to add your Google Analytics tracking code to WordPress. I'm using a plugin called Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress which displays all the essential stats on my admin dashboard. It's very easy to connect to GA: you simply authenticate via the Google account attached to your GA account.
I'm a Formcraft hardcore fan, using it on all my websites (in addition to the standalone Typeform solution). Their forms are lightweight, look great (incl. on mobile) and play well with other apps via a Zapier webhook integration (premium add-on).
I also use Bloom by Elegant Themes for email capture. Great UI with a variety of optin forms (fly in, pop up, inline,...).
Elegant Themes (makers of Divi & Bloom) also provides a great plugin to activate social sharing to all networks: Monarch. Very easy to set up. You can choose which networks you want to display and the position of the sharing icons (sidebar, inline, end of article pop up,...). To display Facebook sharing stats, you'll have to create a Facebook app.
You can also use the free version of AddThis.
I'll dedicate a separate article to 301 redirects. It's a technique you can use for multiple purposes (incl. to redirect obsolete URLs to new ones). I'm using Eggplant 301 redirects. I love the fact that you can redirect a domain URL to another domain + the fact that you see in a snap the redirection stats. I'm using this plugin for the URL displayed on my instagram account, which redirects to my homepage, an easy hack to see my instagram traffic in a snap.
I'm also using All 404 Redirect to Homepage to avoid 404 errors (redirected to the home page).
EU COOKIE LAW
If you're running a website in the EU you have to display a cookie consent notification to first time users. There are multiple plugins to do it. Lately I've been using the excellent GDPR plugin developed by Moove Agency.
CLONING & BACKUPS
If you need to clone a WP website from staging to production, just add Updraft to your stack. It's also a perfect choice for daily backup purposes. Here's an article I dedicated to the cloning process.
I'm using ShortPixel image optimizer to compress the images on my WP sites
I'm using Query monitor to check the performance (loading time) of my pages
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