Many factors go into choosing the right WordPress developer for your project. In this post, I will cover a few of the most important aspects of choosing a professional that will meet your expectations and fit your budget.
So let’s go over how to find a WordPress developer that is right for you.
The Good, Bad and the Ugly
Whichever method you choose to reach a decision one thing is necessary; make sure you get every detail in writing, including deadlines, price, revisions, and services provided. In addition, have a working contract, be aware of hidden costs, and leave nothing unstated or assumed. Further, consider that there will always be obstacles to overcome in the design process and it is up to the developer to figure out the best method of solving these problems. It is not the client’s responsibility to pay the developer while they learn on the job.
Experience and Tools
Research and seek out a developer that is familiar with your industry and has the ability to adhere to current WordPress design standards. You will want someone with the knowledge and tools to help you develop a functional WordPress site that will accomplish your online goals.
Furthermore, you don’t want a developer that only focuses on code or aesthetics. Make sure who you choose has at least some basic online marketing skills that include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Integration, among other things. There is more to WordPress development than just code and graphics so don’t be afraid to ask questions such as if they have the resources to register domain names (in your name) and set up a hosting account. Above all, a good developer will have the ability to reach out and find answers.
Good customer service is essential in keeping the project on track and reaching a final product for which both parties can be proud. A developer should be a good listener as well as be able to give proactive advice and make suggestions that will add value to the project. A reputable WordPress developer will not try to coax you into buying something you don’t want or need.
Communication is key to the development process and a developer should be available to the client at the specified times. If a developer is hard to contact, then it is likely they will have trouble keeping their end of the bargain. Further, you want someone that can effectively communicate throughout the process and not overwhelm you with industry lingo you don’t understand.
After Sales Services
The quality of customer service during the project can give you an idea of how the developer will provide services after the sale. If they were difficult to contact and unwilling to communicate during the project you can bet they will be non-existent after the project is completed. If you find in the initial stages of the project that the developer is non-cooperative or unreachable for extended periods, it is probably best for both developer and client to part ways. Make sure that you include some sort of termination clause in the contract.
Local or Global?
Another issue to think about is whether to hire someone locally or look beyond your area; there are pros and cons to both. Dealing with a local developer will make communication easier and many feel more comfortable with face-to-face discussions. Unfortunately, sometimes your local area will not be able to provide the services you need. This may require that you look outside of your local area to obtain the resources and talent you need to complete your project. Whether you choose a global or local developer, make sure you research other projects they have done. To that end, try to reach out to others that have used that developer and see if they were satisfied with the services provided.
Research and Compare
Before you start your big web design project, slow down, take a step back and think about your goals. Think of the finished product and what you want it to accomplish, and then consider what it will take to get there. Taking some extra time to research and compare developers will save you a lot of money and headache in the end.
Questions You Should Be Asking Your WordPress Developer
Achieving the desired results from your website can be difficult even for the seasoned pro and choosing the right WordPress developer can make or break your online presence. Searching for a developer varies based on your individual needs and the following questions will give you a starting point for a healthy developer /client relationship.
Q: Are you willing to learn about my product or services and understand my online marketing objective?
If the developer does not understand the product or service, it is difficult to adhere to the objective of the project. A responsible developer will become acquainted with the products or services before the start of the development process thus making communication between developer and client much more pleasant.
Q: How often can I make changes or site revisions during the design process?
Clearly state up front in the contract the number of site revisions allowed during the design phase. Expect a strained relationship for both developer and client if you are not on the same page regarding revisions. For a developer, a client can quickly eat up any profit margin with scope creep and as a client, you are entitled to a certain number of changes throughout the process.
Q: Do you adhere to WordPress development best practices?
Most developers are going to say yes to this but make sure that your developer adheres to current best practices and has an understanding of user experience. A competent developer will understand how your visitors navigate your websites so you can get the most out of your design dollar. Further, many developers make the mistake of putting functionality in the theme rather than in a plugin. For more on best practices, it is a good idea to scan the WordPress codex to find out more on best practices.
Q: Are you a full-service developer including, theme design, plugin development, content writing, social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), graphic design, and hosting services?
Sometimes it is nice to have all the services provided by the same WordPress developer. Not all developers provide all the necessary services you may need for your project just make certain that the developer has at least some knowledge of the services you are interested such as theme design, plugin development, and graphic design. No developer knows everything, so make sure the developer you choose has other resources they can reach out to for those services.
Q: Will you design a website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind?
A great WordPress site is of no use if potential customers can’t find it. It is imperative to structure the site in a way that is search engine friendly. SEO is the process of using keywords efficiently and adding the necessary HTML tags to images and other media that the search engines can easily index. A happy site is a high-ranking site! Further, ask them what SEO plugins they use most often and do some research to see if it is a fit for your objectives.
Q: Do you provide market and competitive research before the start of a project?
This is not always a part of a development package but a reputable WordPress developer will have knowledge in this field. If possible, have the developer analyze your current traffic before making design decisions. This will also help analyze future traffic volume. It is also advisable to research your competition and find out what they have been doing to achieve their goals.
Q: Do you provide and keep documentation contemporaneously?
This is a big question that most clients forget to ask or don’t know to ask of their developer. A developer that cares about the client relationship will document everything and keep the documentation current. A developer that keeps everything in their head is essentially stealing from the client.
Q: What is expected of me during the process and what are the project deliverables?
Most clients don’t know what is expected of them and they are not sure if they are responsible for the site content or if this service is provided. The contract should clearly state what the client is responsible for and any reputable developer will have access to resources that can provide this to the client. For a seamless development process, clients should adhere to all content delivery dates i.e. make sure you get the developer the site copy and all media files on schedule.
Q: Can you design a site within my budget that meets my online marketing goals?
Most businesses do not have an endless supply of cash to throw into a website. However, it is important to work out what your objective is and what it will cost to get there. Both developer and client should clearly state all tasks and costs in the contract so there are no hidden costs or surprises at the end of the project.
Q: Do you develop sites without using WordPress and might this be the best option?
Neither way is right, wrong, good, or bad but if the site is hand coded from scratch, it is important to know up front who owns the code and any software purchased for the project you need to retain the license. You paid for it. Using WordPress can save significant time and money.
Q: When are you available, when is the best time to contact you?
Being able to communicate with your developer is imperative, so don’t hesitate to ask if the designer has a day job. Set aside available times to discuss the progress and direction of the project. Communication is a key ingredient in getting what you want and making the trains run on time.
Q: Do you provide long-term support including training and maintenance plans?
It’s nice to know that when the project is complete that your developer isn’t going to skip town. Having a maintenance plan isn’t necessary but you need to know that in the event something goes wrong you have support.
There are plenty of horror stories of relationships dissolving over minor issues that if they had been addressed up front, could have been avoided. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. All developers have their own style and one size does not fit all. This list is just a few of the more important things that you should be asking your developer. There will be other questions and criteria in choosing a developer but these core questions will always be important to any project.