Below you will find a recommended list of resources, some that I use for my own business on a regular basis. *Disclaimer any resources marked with an * uses my referral link to that product or service.
WordPress Themes & Page Builders
GeneratePress Premium Theme*
GeneratePress Premium is a fantastic lightweight WordPress theme that is excellent for customizing and adding what you need, no more bloated themes. It's a great framework for adding hooks, customizing the header and footer sections and more. There is a free version of this theme as well.
Beaver Builder * (Theme and Page Builder)
Probably the best WordPress page builder I have used. Beaver Builder is a live front end page drag and drop editor. Bootstrap responsive, customizable, and it has incredible documentation. Build a website template that is all your own or choose from plenty of their pre-built ones. Customize CSS and HTML in a breeze. A website page can be built and customized in minutes instead of hours. I recommend the Beaver Builder plugin combined with their Beaver Builder Theme.
Websavers is a Halifax, NS based hosting company that is always proactive on improving their service, environmentally conscientious, and their average ticket response time is 5 minutes! I choose and recommend Websavers, especially to WordPress users because they are the people who know how to best optimize their servers for the platform. (Their own website is built off WordPress). They offer free SSL in all their plans and free domain registration, unlimited databases, emails and transfers in select plans. Best part of all is they don't charge you more just because you are running WordPress and offer auto-backups and updates on all their plans. If you are looking for a great Canadian web hosting company they are worth checking out.
SiteGround specializes in speed, security and is also crafted for WordPress. They have managed WordPress hosting on all their plans and my favourite feature is their one click staging for testing updates or new features before pushing them to your live website. They offer SSD drives, the latest technologies, free SSL certificates, their own firewall and security rules, auto-updates, and are GDPR compliant. There is a reason why they are officially recommended by WordPress.org as one of the best places for hosting a WordPress site.
Security & Backup
Always have your own solution to your website security as your hosting provider is not responsible for a compromised website, nor will they be on top of it like your own Security solution can. iThemes Security is an amazing WordPress Security plugin with a lot of features like WordPress Brute Force Protection, 2FA, File Change Detection, Strong Password Enforcement, Scheduled Scans, Email Notifications and much more. Don't leave it up to chance, keep your website as secure as possible.
You should always have your own backup solution for your website. Even though your hosting company will backup your site, they may only keep copies for a certain period of time (30 days for example) which doesn't help if a hack or other issue happens before that time period. Furthermore, your hosting company could lose your backups completely if something goes wrong on the server. This is why I recommend *UpdraftPlus, they have a free and pro version available which will allow you to schedule automatic file and database backups and store those backups offsite to places like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. You'll sleep better at night knowing you have a copy of your website to restore if anything goes wrong.
Optimization (Speed Up Your Website)
Imagify is another image compression plugin that will take any image you upload to your WordPress website and optimize the file size for you. It also has an option to optimize images previously uploaded as well. There is a free version of the plugin and an upgraded version in case you need to optimize a lot of images per month. Make sure your website isn't bogged down by large file size images.
(Free and pro versions available)
Image optimization is an easy and important step to increasing your website speed. WP Smush can help you perform lossless compression of your images on upload and bulk optimize images already in your WordPress media library. Keep your images file size as low as possible so your pages can load fast.
Yoast SEO Plugin
This is my go to plugin for WordPress SEO help, setup page keywords, meta descriptions, and page titles. Live indicators show you how your content could be improved upon for search engines. It will let you know which pages need improving and give you suggestions. Yoast also has a great resource of SEO information on their website.
WordPress Halifax Meetup
This is a great meetup for everything involving WordPress. This meetup is for anyone who wants to use or know more about WordPress and people of all background and skill levels of using the platform are welcome. The meetup starts with a presentation and then breaks off into mingling with attendees where you can get help on several topics, from WordPress technical issues, to SEO and marketing advice. If you have questions regarding WordPress or you just want to meet some local developers and users of the platform this is the place to be. Meetups are held once a month at Volta Labs.
Volta Labs is a not-for-profit organization that was founded to help people wanting to create a startup business in the technology realm. Volta Members enjoy a free work space, meeting rooms, legal, and HR/recruiting. Becoming a Volta Member is free (requires you to go through an orientation upon approval). *Don't forget to check their calendar for upcoming events at Volta and around the Halifax area.