The ideal theme & plugins starter stack to build a WordPress website [2023]

ideal themes and plugins for wordpress xxl

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.


Hello by Elementor + Elementor Pro It’s the best theme/visual building tool 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.

The best practice is to use Google Tag Manager and to insert your GTM tags in the “custom code section” of Elementor (no need for an additional plugin).

You can also use a cookie-free analytics solution such as Plausible.


Elementor gives you everything you need to build great looking forms with advanced features.

I used to be a Formcraft hardcore fan, using it on most of my websites (in addition to Typeform). Their forms are lightweight, look great (incl. on mobile) and play well with other apps via a Zapier webhook integration (premium add-on).


Elementor offers a nice social sharing module, very easy to setup. You can pick any network and tweak the design.

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).


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.


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.

You can also export – import a full WP install with All In One WP migration. You may need the premium version if your website assets exceed 512MB.


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

🚀 Subscribe to my weekly newsletter packed with tips & tricks around AI, SEO, coding and smart automations

☕️ If you found this piece helpful, you can buy me coffee