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What Makes a Great WordPress Developer? What to Know Before You Hire One

Posted In WordPress - By Techtiplib on Friday, July 31st, 2015 With No Comments »

It seems that it’s easy to hire a WordPress developer to work on your website. Nowadays, WordPress has became the most popular website CMS (content management system) in the market. Aside from the reason that it’s free, it’s also easy to understand how to use it regardless if you’re an experienced user or a newbie.

WordPress Developer

Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

When you search about it in Google, you will discover that the industry is already overflowing with experienced WordPress developers who are ready to help you with your needs. But, there are several things that you must understand before hiring one.

Many first-time professional WordPress developer employers tend to stumble into false expectations which can lead to poor project output or massive, budget crushing “scope creep”.

While WordPress is free, robust, scalable, and a wonder to work with, there are a number of caveats that are often overlooked.

1. WordPress is Not Free

Wait –what? Yes it is! WordPress is an open source platform that is completely free. However, the time and labour that go into it are not.  

Just because the initial core WordPress installation is free, it does not necessarily mean that it’s going to be a cheap solution to implement for your business. Time is money, and the hourly rates that accompany a WordPress developer are often the same as any other web design or development professional. And as soon as you start asking for customizations, that price will climb.

2. One-Size-Fits-All WordPress Developer

WordPress development companies are not all created equal, and that’s a good thing. Some are better at design than development, and vice versa.

Like your business, your website will undoubtedly have unique requirements. And as with any out-of-the-box solution, your WordPress website will likely need customisation. Bending a prefabricated solution like WordPress, in some cases, could actually come out more labour-intensive than building a website from scratch with popular programming languages (like PHP) or frameworks (Ruby on Rails). And more labour means more time, and time is money.

WordPress is most commonly used for brochure websites that follow a simple formula: Home, About Us, Portfolio, Contact Us, and a blog. As soon as you start piling on additional requirements, such as an online ordering system, ecommerce, shipping integration, directory listings, or any other functionality that needs to “talk” to a third-party resource, you should be thinning the herd of prospective developers which you might consider.

Plugins can most certainly add functionality, but they may not do exactly what your business requires them to do, or look the way you want them to look. And since every plugin is made by a different programmer with their own habits and coding style, rearranging the code from one plugin to another can also be time consuming.

We suggest looking at your WordPress developer candidates with an understanding eye; take a look at their portfolio and client list. Have they worked with a business in your industry before? Do they understand your unique business requirements?

3. Leave the “Rose Coloured Glasses” at Home

Another common mistake that both clients and WordPress developers may make is that they let their eagerness to work together overcome their desire to turn over every stone and catalogue every complexity. Simply put, both sides of the equation have the potential to overlook hidden complexities and may assume a business’ needs are quick and easy to fulfil.

A proper website development process requires granular discovery and planning sessions that come after a company is hired. It is irresponsible to think that an estimate is a hard quotation for a fixed price.

Typically, an experienced WordPress development company will need to sit down with your company’s key stakeholders and plan your project. This can take a few hours and maybe even a week or two depending on the complexity of your business requirements. To assume that an estimate is the last word is an accident waiting to happen.

A proper discovery session or series of sessions is a paid exercise that will leave you with a clear and concise road map for your project. It will document your requirements, website functionality, and map out wireframes and the placement of every button, widget, content container, and so on.

In Conclusion

The most important thing to look for in a WordPress developer is that they understand your business and will be retained for the life of your website. Switching developers mid-stream or once a website is launched or dropping them altogether after launch is risky.

Every developer works in a way that is efficient for them, and assigning a developer to work on code that was laid down by another means they will have a learning curve which might reduce their efficiency. This is why retaining a developer is important to keep your website design and development project cost-effective and problem-free.

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