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Christina Garofalo for Plank

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My Favourite Websites as a WordPress Developer

Photo by Torbjørn Helgesen on Unsplash

There are loads of useful websites out there to help you with your development, this is just a list of the ones that I use on an almost daily basis. As a fan of open-source and free tools, every one of these websites is free to use. Take a gander at this unordered, non-exhaustive list of handy websites.

Run WordPress in your browser. Try plugins and test things out, without the risk of messing up your environment. You can easily swap WordPress and PHP versions without the hassle of setting up a site locally. This is a brand new project, so if you do WordPress development, it’s pretty exciting. The documentation can be found here.

This hardly constitutes a website, but when you just need a dummy URL that’s live, I use All this website does is randomly change the background colour to something other than purple on reload. That’s it.

This site’s predecessor was shown to me by an IT technician when I was having issues with my home internet connection, and kept asking me to ping it, instead of Google. This website has a funny history, it used to be before it was sold not that long ago to a mattress company of the same name. All that site did was the same as, except that it only showed random shades of purple. It’s so bizarre that there’s a Wiki article about it.

Every web developer just needs some good old-fashioned placeholder images, without needing to host them somewhere. There are numerous placeholder websites out there (including and, but I like for its simplicity and versatility. You can define size, colour, text and format in one image URL. I will often use these as fallback images when coding. When all else fails - grab an image from

This service is similar to, except that it serves up avatars that use initials and a random colour. You can define the name, the colour, the size and the shape of the avatar (square or round) if you need something specific for your project.

Actually free, royalty-free images. This site was recently acquired by Getty Images, and now offers a paid tier (unsplash+), but there’s still plenty of free goodness to go around. You can also have access to these free images directly in the WordPress Media Library via the Instant Images plugin. It’s nice just having a source for high-quality images where you don’t need to worry about copyright concerns. While you don’t need to credit the photographers, personally I like to give credit where credit is due, I encourage you to do the same.

This one is self-explanatory, it allows you to edit JSON in your browser. I mostly use this to sanity-check large blocks of JSON when working on custom importers and general data manipulation, as it points out syntax errors and differences. Useful for when you don’t want to fire up your IDE.

I like to experiment with PHP, but I don’t always want to create a whole local dev site just to do it. This site lets you code directly in the browser and choose from the 400+ versions of PHP at your fingertips. Being able to effortlessly switch PHP versions is a handy way to refactor old code snippets and bring them up to date for PHP 8+, right in your browser.

Eventually, you are going to need to put your site live, so you buy a domain and host it somewhere. This means you’ll have to point your DNS records at a server. This website lets you check to see if your domain has propagated worldwide, allowing you to debug DNS issues faster. DNS propagation is known to take up to 48 hours, however, I find that most things get propagated in a few hours at most and at times as soon as 5 mins. This tool lets you see the results in almost real-time. (There is a checkbox that lets you auto-refresh to see changes every 20 seconds if you feel the need to watch it like a hawk.)

When I need to know where a domain is registered, I run it through I mostly use this to help clients track down who is holding their domain “hostage”. A lot of the time, they don’t know, either because their predecessor didn’t inform them or some kind of bad breakup with a former developer or agency. This site helps shed light on the situation and could help you or your clients get in touch with the person or organization. (Or maybe you’re just nosey).

These are just a handful of useful sites I’ve “collected” over the years that I keep going back to, and that generally hang out in my bookmark bar for quick access. What are the go-to websites that help you in your everyday development? I’m always on the hunt for useful tools, comment with your faves below!

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