WP Smackdown is built with…

Everything below is for the older versions of our site, and is quite outdated. Once we have our new site (2024) completely built, we’ll share all the new tools we used.

I love transparency. It’s how I choose to live my personal life, but I feel as though it’s almost essential in business today. In a capitalist world driven by investors, big profits and making a quick buck, it’s more important than ever to do good work for good reasons, and stand behind it.

This page is my attempt to be transparent. Even more than that, it’s my way of open-sourcing my site. WP Smackdown exists to teach & inform, so it only makes sense to explain how I built this very site. I hope you can learn something from it.


September 2017 – We switched to SiteGround hosting. After over 4 years with WP Engine, I realized we were overpaying. SiteGround offers the same level of performance, and on-par support, for way less.

2013 – August 2017 – We used WP Engine’s managed WordPress hosting, and for the most part, were happy with its features, performance & security. Read our WP Engine review to learn more.

Site Speed & Optimization


December 2015 – We switched to KeyCDN, and haven’t looked back since. They provide an impressive amount of control & flexibility. Clearing cache is nearly instantaneous, and you can do so on individual files. They also offer a free SSL for hosting all your assets, which is crucial if you’re switching your site to https (which you should be ;-).

They have an incredibly low rate that fluctuates based on traffic, but unless you’re getting more than 50,000 visitors/mo., you’ll likely pay the yearly minimum of $49.

2013 – November 2015 – We used WP Engine’s built-in CDN, powered by StackPath. It got the job done, but is not nearly as flexible or fast as KeyCDN.


While SiteGround provides several layers of its own caching (which I do keep turned on), I’ve found WP Rocket provides an additional speed boost. Honestly, it’s so good, it’s one of the only premium plugins that I would recommend to every WordPress site.


We built wpsmackdown.com on top of the Hybrid Core framework from Justin Tadlock. It gives us full control over our markup, but adds a ton of common sense features that most themes don’t pay attention to. There are a few, small instances where we referenced the Underscores starter theme, and may have borrowed some code.

Version 3, launched in April 2017, now uses Underscores as the base, and borrows several useful components from Hybrid Core.

Either way, I highly recommend checking them both out.


You can find a list of my 10 essential free WordPress plugins here.


Backend, Admin & Writing


Media & Images

SEO, Marketing & Analytics