Are you in the initial stages of finding a WordPress developer to whip your website into shape? Selecting the right person for the job isn’t always easy. Different developers offer different strengths, some specialise in websites for particular industries, and not all web developers have the same level of experience developing for the WordPress platform.
You wouldn’t hire a builder to construct your home without talking to them and getting a few recommendations – and selecting the right person to build your website shouldn’t be any different. The problem is, many people really don’t know what questions they should be asking when talking to potential developers – and not asking the right questions can lead to a breakdown in communication and unmet expectations for both parties.
I wondered what those questions were myself – and decided to go straight to the source for an insider’s perspective. Stephen Price from WebMAD gives us the skinny on what you should ask prospective WordPress developers before choosing your perfect match.
From your perspective, what are the Top 5 questions people should ask when they’re deciding which developer to work with?
- “What other WordPress sites have you worked on in the past, with examples?”
This will give you an idea of the skill level of the development team, and whether they have an eye for the sort of site you are after. It will also enable you to get an idea of page load speeds from their examples etc. You get a feel for what they can offer.
- “What other sites have you worked on that relate to the content of my site, or potential experience with my site’s subject matter?”
The more they have done close to your field, the more they will know your market, and will be able to optimise for your needs. It also cuts down on communication time as you don’t need to explain why you want things a certain way, as they have worked for a similar client before. It just makes the whole process easier if you are talking to someone who can speak your language.
- “What is the process to get my site live and what happens after? From design, to implementation, to ongoing support?”
Its best to know as a client what you are getting and what the process is, and the steps to the next part of the process so that you can hold the developers accountable at each stage in the process. For example some teams exclusively work to their own designs, others prefer designs to be provided by the client. It’s best to be able to compare apples with apples when weighing up developers. In terms of after the site goes live, every web system needs regular updates – WordPress is no exception. Security patches, feature refinements – a great development team will be able to offer ongoing support services to make sure your site stays online, rather than just helping you get it up and leaving you to it.
- “How and where is my site to be hosted?”
Knowing your market, and optimising the location of your WordPress hosting to your market to reduce page load speeds is critical especially with high media content sites. Also if your site ends up on low cost ‘cram them in’ hosting (hundreds of sites per server) then your site will be under-resourced and run slowly. This is critical with database intensive content management systems like WordPress especially if you are using plugins that are not yet mature.
- “What will it cost and what are the payment terms?”
Often problems arise over different expectations of what will be delivered for a certain cost. This generally ends badly for both the client and the developer. Make sure the developer gives you a clear written quote that outlines the cost and what they will (and won’t) do for that cost.
Pet peeve. What question do you constantly get from people which makes you want to bang your head against a brick wall?
“Can I get this done yesterday, and call you at 10pm because I think an image I have supplied isn’t quite right?”
Unfortunately developers don’t necessarily fit into the stereotype. We have lives too, and love it when we only do a 9-5 day rather than sacrificing our lives for your project’s more trivial issues that could wait until the next morning. Having said that, if a developer is passionate about what you are doing they may offer to do this on occasion – treat it as the exception, not the rule.
What homework, if any, should people do before contacting prospective developers?
The web developer will need a detailed specification of what features you want in your site. This is the single most important bit of homework you can do before engaging a web developer, and will yield you the best results in terms of final product, and accuracy of quote. The more detailed you are, the better, but be prepared to be flexible around the more finicky features. Often it’s cheaper for you in the long run to use a pre-built module that may do 99% of what you need rather than sweating the small stuff at this stage.
What’s the single most important thing that person can do to ensure they find the right fit for them and their project?
Either meet your developer face to face, or use people who have been recommended. Built trust with them so you are all on the same page. Ask questions, and make sure you are not closed out from asking questions. You don’t want a dentist drilling into you without knowing why or what the end result will be? At the end of the day, you are the client, and you will most likely be the person who has the longest relationship with the site, so you need to know what things do so you can pass it on to other development teams if things go south.