4 WordPress Starter Sites to Rock your Productivity

Starting new Projects and Get Things Done

Every new project usually hides both enthusiasm and anxiety. Some of us may know what to do immediately, whilst others don’t have the whole picture and are unsure where to start.

Usually, an overload of ideas bloats our brain and clouds where we need to start.

Getting things done” usually depends on our personality, skills and the context of each project. Our time and effort often are two of our biggest challenges. But there is good news! We can apply proven methods to our workflow to ensure less anxiety and effort.

We can create a way to not only get things done but also get them faster!

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In this post, I will outline a favorite WordPress developing method that can save up to 3 hours of work.

A normal WordPress website usually takes a large amount of time to set it up. The final time depends on the complexity of the chosen WordPress theme and plugins stack. There are many features and options to configure in a WordPress site that are time-consuming – at this stage, we haven’t even written even a single word on any post or page!

If you develop WordPress sites for a living then you definitely need to establish an effective SYSTEM FOR DEVELOPMENT. A SYSTEM is a collection of elements or components that are organized for a common purpose.

How can we create a System to overcome the Tedium of Settings?

We need to be proactive by creating our own Starter Sites.

If you don’t have any Starter Site yet on your WordPress toolkit then you should consider building one, soon.

What Is a Starter Site & What are its Benefits?

Starter Site is a WordPress installation that includes our favorite theme and all our must-have plugins. It includes themes and plugins we feel comfortable to work with on most of our projects. A Starter Site also includes all the initial settings should be applied to any project – basic configurations we usually do before starting to develop the actual website.

Why we should have at least one type of Starter Site?

  • It's a valuable tool that saves a great amount of work (up to 3 hours)
  • It minimizes setup errors
  • It gets the development stage moving faster and because many steps have already been done
  • It allows you to present a website demo to present to clients very quickly
  • It creates a mindset of confidence and alleviation that motivates us being more creative – it’s actually fun to complete a project milestone in just a few minutes!

A Starter Site is the first stage of a systematic web development workflow.

What Types of Starter Sites we Need?

The types of Starter Sites we need are dependent on:

  • the services we offer and/or
  • the types of clients we serve.

For a broad range of WordPress development services, I suggest the following types of Starter sites:

SIMPLE STARTER - (SS)

Is a basic WordPress installation with a WordPress theme, a child theme and all the “must have” plugins. It provides the necessary functionality that should be applied on any new WordPress project.

PAGE BUILDER STARTER - (PBS)

It includes everything from SS site plus all the free or lite versions of your favorite page builder plugin and its addons (if any). The PBS also includes a number of basic pages and sections templates that will greatly speed up the design process.

WOO STARTER - (WS)

It includes everything from the SS or PBS. plus the WooCommerce plugin and all the additional necessary plugins you need for either a services or a products e-shop. This installation should also include all the initial WooCommerce settings and the necessary page layouts.

CUSTOM STARTER - (C.S)

It includes almost everything from the SS or PBS site. Your favorite user management plugin and a user role plugin. The CS site should also include the basic mechanism of a user login, registration and on-boarding pages. Details about user onboarding process should be configured after an in-depth discussion with client.

Tip! Keep all the premium plugins and their settings for later – as soon as you confirm your client’s needs.

How to Build your Own Starter Sites

It would be very helpful to think of this process much the same way as we do with LEGO®. Imagine you collect the best pieces of functionality to build a valuable tool. While you are building this tool, estimate how much time and effort you’ll save in any of your future projects. I encourage you to check this excellent and very helpful tutorial (video and article) of Dave Foy. 

In this tutorial though I’ll go a bit further, giving you a more in-depth description of what types of Starter Sites I suggest to build, as well as which Theme and plugins I have included in them. Where those Starter Sites are suitable and which is the step-by-step workflow to build them.  By the end of this tutorial, you will have gathered a good number of resources that will save you hours of work.

You are only 6 steps away from your new Starter Site, but before starting, you need to ask yourself…

What is the type of website that I need to build my Starter Site?

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Is it a Simple Blog?
Choose the simplest possible solution.
In this case, the SIMPLE STARTER Site is ideal.
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Is it Business Website?
Choose a solution that will help your end-users easily adapt to the final project.
In this case, you can choose either the PAGE-BUILDER STARTER or the CUSTOM STARTER site.
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Is it a WooCommerce site?
Choose a solution that includes Woocommerce and some necessary addons.
In this case, you can choose WOOCOMMERCE STARTER Site
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Is it a Membership site?
Most of the Membership / User-Management sites need a special treatment. The final structure is determined by the owner needs.
In this case, you may use the CUSTOM STARTER site

6 Steps to Build & Install a Starter Site

Step - 1 - Go to your Hosting Provider
* Create a subdomain with a clear name of the Starter Site you are about to build
(i.e simplestarter.mydomain.com)
* On this subdomain install a clean WordPress
You may use "Softaculus" from your cPanel for faster results.
Go to cPanel
At Domains section choose Subdomains
Create a Subdomain
Give it relative name to the Starter pack you are about to build (i.e simplestarter.mydomain.com)
On this Subdomain
Install a clean WordPress
For Faster Results
You may use Softaculus from your cPanel
WordPress Installation
With Softaculus
WordPress Installation
With Softaculus
Step - 2 - Install your Favorite Themes
* Go to Appearance --> Themes and install your favorite Theme
* install a relative child theme and activate it
* If your Theme needs specific plugins to install then install them but don't activate them yet.
Activate Child Theme
You can install and activate a Child theme that you've already configured from a previous project and only change the screenshot
Step - 3 - Install your Favorite Plugins
* Go to Plugins --> Add New and install one by one the plugins you need for this Starter site

This step can be processed much faster if you use Plugins collections.
SEE DETAILS BELOW
Step - 4 - Configure Starter Site
* Setup your Theme and Plugins with the most necessary options
* Setup your must-have pages and create a main menu (About us - Services - Shop - contac Us pages)
* Setup the permalinks to %%post%% structure
* Setup your Security and Cache plugins and then deactivated them
* Make all the must-have settings on your "Forms" plugin. Create a basic form, Submit Redirections and Thank you messages)
* Setup all the integrations you can at this point, with external APIs. (Google Maps, , SMTP settings...)
Step - 5 - Backup & Export Starter Site
This step is the easiest!

* If you don't have it yet, Go to Plugins --> Add New, and install the All in one WP Migration plugin
* Go to All in one WP Migration Menu --> Export, and choose Export to FILE

That's it. You've done building your Starter Site!
Download Starter Site
* Wait a few minutes and as soon as the DOWNLOAD popup button appears to screen, click to download and save this valuable file at a safe directory on your disk
Step - 6 - Import your Starter Site
This is the "magic" step!

* Login to the live site where you need to install your chosen Starter Site
* Go to Plugins --> Add New, and install the All in one WP Migration plugin
* Go to All in one WP Migration--> Import and choose IMPORT from FILE
* Go to your disk and retrieve the All in one WP migration (.wpress) file of your saved Starter Site
Import your Starter Site (1)
* Wait for importing process to complete
* Then, a popup window will appear asking you to confirm that you want to install the imported files. Say Yes
Import your Starter Site (2)
* Have in mind that after installation completes you will be logged out from WordPress and you 'll have to login with the Starter Site credentials
* Login to the new website and go to Settings --> Permalinks and save twice without making any changes.
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In order to make faster the Step-3 process, we can collect our favorite plugins in WpFav.com or in WPCore.com and then bulk-install them with one click into our WordPress. These websites are both plugin-collections listings where anyone can subscribe for free and create your own collections.

In this tutorial I used WpFav.com as the main tool for the 4 Starter Sites I described in the following sections.

Let’s see how to create a plugin collection and install it with just one click:

1 - Create an Account
Go to wpfavs.com website and create a Free account.
Copy Collection(s) to your Account
Press the clone button to copy a collection to your account.
2 - Bring Collections to your Website
* Go to your WordPress --> Plugins --> Add New and install the WpFavs plugin
* There is no need to install other plugins.
Using wpFavs you can install any or all of the plugins you need automatically
Set up your API (1)
Copy your WpFavs API from wpFavs site
Set up your API (2)
After plugin installation go to Tools-->WpFavs and just -paste your WpFavs API
Run a Collection
* After your API is saved all plugins collections you have on your WpFavs account will appear on your screen.
* Run the one you want
Bulk-Install Plugins
* After running the chosen collection a plugins' list appears on your screen. Now you can bulk-install them.
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4 Deeply Examined Starter Sites to Build

Up until now, we have learned how to build a Starter Site and how to import it to a live new project. The benefits of this method are plenty, but the elements combinations are infinite. Digging into the WordPress ecosystem makes it hard to search and create the ideal set of elements.

In the following sections, I will share 4 Starter Sites and workflows that I have built after a lot of trial and error.

The scope of this tutorial is not to review the included elements. Instead, I focus on the building process by expanding 4 Starter Sites solutions that have worked well for a lot of projects that I have built to date.

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BASIC

Starter

Suitable for

Blogs | One Page Websites | Landing & Thank You Pages | Knowledgebase | WIKI Websites

WordPress
Theme

+

A Child Theme

Settings Workflow

  1. Set permalinks to %%post%%
  2. Create a number of blank pages (i.e. Homepage, About, Blog, Resources, Contact )
  3. Then create the main menu
  4. Set drafts for Cookie and Privacy Policy pages (or use The GDPR Framework options)
  5. Go to Customizer and make the minimum settings:1. Put a generic Logo or a Site Title with a Tag
    2. Set Headings and Body Fonts
    3. Theme default Color
    4. Set Header-Menu Style
    5. Page and Post layouts
    6. Footer copyrights7. Mobile menu style
  6. Setup plugins in the following sequence:
    1.Duplicate Post
    2.The GDPR Framework by Data443 (apply settings and deactivate it)
    3. Caldera Forms
    4. All in one WP Security plugin (some options can only be set on a live site – apply settings and deactivate it)
    5. WP Fastest Cache (apply settings and deactivate it)
    6. The remaining plugins included in this collection are better setup on a live website where the Starter Site will be installed
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PAGE BUILDER

Starter

Suitable for

Professional Websites eg: Resume Websites | Event Websites | Listings Websites| Custom Apps

WordPress
Theme

+

A Child Theme

Settings Workflow

  1. Set permalinks to %%post%%
  2. Create a number of blank pages (i.e. Homepage, About, Blog, Resources, Contact )
  3. Then create the main menu
  4. Set drafts for Cookie and Privacy Policy Pages (or use The GDPR Framework options)
  5. Go to Customizer and make the minimum settings:
    1. Put a generic Logo or a Site Title with a Tag
    2. Set Headings and Body Fonts
    3. Theme default Color
    4. Set Header-Menu Style
    5. Page and Post layouts
    6. Footer copyrights
    7. Mobile menu style
  6. Setup plugins in the following sequence:
    1. Elementor (Layout width Settings, Global Fonts on or off, Global Colors on or off)
    2. Premium addons for Elementor (Set to “on” preferred widgets)
    3. Duplicate Post
    4. The GDPR Framework by Data443 (apply settings and deactivate it)
    5. Caldera Forms
    6. All in one WP Security plugin (some options can only be set on the live site – apply settings and deactivate it)
    7. WP Fastest Cache (apply settings and deactivate it)
    8. Rest of the plugins included in this collection is better to be set on the live website where the Starter site will be installed
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WOOCOMMERCE

Starter

Suitable for

Any kind of an e-commerce site: Services site | Downloadable Products | Tangible products | Reservations or Registrations | Tutorials

WordPress
Theme

+

A Child Theme

Settings Workflow

  1. Set permalinks to %%post%%
  2. Create a number of blank basic pages (i.e. Homepage, About, Blog, Resources, Contact )
  3. Then create the main menu
  4. Setup drafts for Cookie and Privacy Policy pages (or use The GDPR Framework options)
  5. If you have any specific Page layouts saved from a previous project or other sources, import them in Elementor Library to use them on your sample pages.
  6. Go to Customizer and make the minimum settings:
    • Put a generic Logo or a Site Title with a Tag
    • Set Headings and Body Fonts
    • Theme default Color
    • Set Header-Menu Style
    • Page and Post layouts
    • Footer copyrights
    • Mobile menu style
    • If you have a specific Theme-Options file you’ve exported from a previous project then import it to save more time.
  7. Setup plugins in the following sequence:
    • Woocommerce (basic Settings for services/products and Account pages)
    • Woocommerce PDF Invoices (Layout, Header/Footer images and text)
    • PayPal Express Checkout for Woocommerce (as far as you can)
    • Woocommerce EU VAT Assistant,
    • Elementor (Layout width Settings, Global Fonts on or off, Global Colors on or off)
    • Essential addons for Elementor (Set to “on” preferred widgets)
    • Duplicate Post
    • The GDPR Framework by Data443 (apply settings and deactivate it)
    • Caldera Forms
    • All in one WP Security plugin (some options can only be set on the live site – apply settings and deactivate it)
    • WP Fastest Cache (apply settings and deactivate it)
    • Rest of the plugins included in this collection is better to be set on the live website where the Starter site will be installed
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CUSTOM

Starter

Suitable for

Any kind of a custom project where Custom Post Types (CPTs) and Custom Fields are necessary to be developed, to meeting the owner needs (i.e., Listings | Private – Intranet sites | Libraries of specific types of content | Institutional | Educational sites | Special  Events | CRMs | Team Collaboration sites)

WordPress
Theme

+

A Child Theme

Settings Workflow

  1. Set permalinks to %%post%%
  2. Create a number of basic blank pages (i.e. Homepage, About, Blog, Resources, Contact)
  3. Then create the main menu
  4. Setup drafts for Cookie and Privacy Policy pages (or use The GDPR Framework options)
  5. If you have any specific Page layouts saved from a previous project or other sources, import them in Elementor Library to use them on your sample pages.
  6. Go to Customizer and make the minimum settings:
    • Put a generic Logo or a Site Title with a Tag
    • Set Headings and Body Fonts
    • Theme default Color
    • Set Header-Menu Style
    • Page and Post layouts
    • Footer copyrights
    • Mobile menu style
    • If you have a specific Theme-Options file you’ve exported from a previous project then import it to save more time.
  7. Setup plugins in the following sequence:
    • If you use this starter site repeatedly, to create a specific type of website i.e a CRM app, then you can start by building the necessary Custom Post types and Custom fields. If you keep exported files from PODs and/or Advanced Custom Fields groups from previous relative projects, now is the time to import them.
    • Elementor (Layout width Settings, Global Fonts on or off, Global Colors on or off)
    • Essential addons for Elementor (Set to “on” preferred widgets)
    • Duplicate Post
    • The GDPR Framework by Data443 (apply settings and deactivate it)
    • Caldera Forms (Create or import some basic forms)
    • All in one WP Security plugin (some options can only be set on the live site – apply settings and deactivate it)
    • WP Fastest Cache (apply settings and deactivate it)
    • Rest of the plugins included in this collection is better to be set on the live website where the Starter site will be installed

Alternative Elements

All the elements included in the Starter Sites mentioned above were brought together after many trials made during a lot of projects I have done. Of course, I have a lot of alternative elements – Free and Premium – to suggest and maybe I’ll do so in future posts.

The main objective of this tutorial though was to share a number of Starter Site Solutions, using free/lite versions of WordPress themes and plugins. My second objective was to share combinations of well coded and well-supported elements by their authors and/or WordPress community.

Since WordPress.org directory offers thousands of themes and plugins, I will close this tutorial with some great alternatives which also fulfill the objectives I have laid down.

Last but not Least

As you have reached this point, you will now have a good idea of:

  • what a Starter Site is, 
  • how to build and install it
  • what types of Starter Sites do you need 
  • which ready-made Starter Site Solutions you can use

So, what do you think about Starter Sites?

I would be really happy to know what you thought of this tutorial, to connect and exchange ideas.  If you liked it, then please share it with your friends, download all of its resources and of course, please like our page on Facebook.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments – see you all again very soon!

Download this article, its lists and all mentioned resources

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Fotini Kokkinaki

Online Branding Developer & Owner of LUSH TEMPLATES FOR WEB 
Working as a WordPress developer for over 10 years, a certified Inbound Marketeer and Growth Driven Designer by Hubspot Academy.

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