WordPress’s simplicity lies in its developer’s expertise
Every business owner knows that their website is probably the most important asset in their marketing and brand development arsenal in the digital realm. It’s the cradle and the starting point of their digital ecosystem and also, the best online business card for their company. It’s the most ideal platform to showcase their business in the best light possible, and to share the brand's view, mission and story.
Playing such an important role in forming your digital presence, you should always ensure that your website doesn’t only do justice to your company. You should also make sure it’s functional, fast, and visible for your customers and potential prospects.
When it comes to website development, business owners have an abundance of different methods, frameworks, and applications to choose from. Sometimes it can get overwhelming, but most of the time, business owners will end up choosing something that suits their company’s needs the most.
With that said, it’s easy to figure out why most businesses choose to represent themselves through a WordPress CMS platform. This content management system is one of the most popular platforms out there, mainly because of its simplicity and advantageous features.
WordPress is the biggest CMS out there with an abundance of pre-made templates and a huge inventory of plugins that allow people to create everything from simple blogs to highly functional websites. With tens of thousands of templates and plugins, it allows businesses to create rich ecosystems on their website that can give users a pleasant experience and in return, help them generate more revenue.
The only problem is, newcomer entrepreneurs are overwhelmed and don’t really know where to start with WP website development.
This is more complicated than one might think. Most often than not, WP is marketed as a simple-to-use and learn CMS with no need for prior knowledge in programming, however, for more complex features, one will have to dwell deeper into the core of WP.
On the other hand, there are quite a few business owners out there who don’t necessarily have the time to create their own WordPress website.
So the problem is: how to find the ideal WordPress developer?
Before getting started with the “hunt” for the ideal WP developer, business owners must crystallize their own goals.
- If it’s just basic site maintenance, maybe there’s somebody who can be trained in-house since WordPress site maintenance is fairly easy.
- If it’s about improving an existing WordPress site with more complex features, hiring a professional is the best idea.
- If the company is totally revamping their digital presence, sometimes entrepreneurs might want to think about moving to a different platform entirely. A totally custom website has its own set of pros and cons over a traditional template-based website. However, WP also has an abundance of features and functionality but implementing those also requires an experienced developer.
When business owners know what they want from their website, they can be more efficient in finding the right person for the job.
WP Programmer vs Developer vs Designer
Based on specific plans and goals, entrepreneurs would mostly choose between either programmers, developers, or designers.
A WordPress architect, so to say, is someone who builds WordPress-based websites. Developers usually come up with ideas, implement them and set up different solutions. They are also in charge of inte-gration and modifications to improve websites.
Developers are responsible for adding functionality for websites that improve user-experience. For instance, they are professionals who add checkout functionality to WooCommerce websites. As professionals, they will assess the situation and come up with the best possible way to implement the new function without causing harm to the website’s current ecosystem.
As such, they can help with the installation of premium plugins that serve to improve the website’s features and functionality. They can also recommend a custom code for specific functions if the business owner needs something entirely custom.
Developers can also help with smaller design changes and configuring ready-made templates. Also, they can help them come up with custom templates that are made to the site owner’s taste and needs.
If a WP developer is who you are looking for, know that the best ones in the business will offer custom design and coding as well. That might not be the most cost-effective route, but the website is ultimately tailored to your needs.
Some might offer to cut costs and offer a great blend of custom and ready-made solutions that will still satisfy all your requirements and save you money at the same time.
Going with the analogy above, most business owners will hire a programmer if they need help with their WordPress ecosystem. They aren’t fully-fledged, dedicated WP designers, meaning they might not have the necessary experience to come up with unique functions and designs, however, if minor improvements are needed, they can change the code.
Hiring a programmer may be the best route if you are also experienced enough and can tackle the obstacles together. It can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-stack developer, however, it’s mostly advised in instances where both the programmer and the business owner know what they are doing and how to execute the process.
Entrepreneurs who would first and foremost like to tweak the look of their existing WordPress site can highly benefit from hiring a designer to create a design into an actual WP theme that can be installed.
If you are looking for some minor changes in the looks of your site and not the actual functionality, your next step should be hiring a WordPress designer should be your next step.
Where to look?
Depending on what entrepreneurs are looking for, good developers can be located easily, if they know where to look.
However, since there’s an abundance of choice and resources, it’s easy for site owners to get lost in the details and face problems in finding the person for the job.
1. Freelance websites and job boards
First thing first, business owners can always turn to dedicated platforms where they can easily find developers who specialize in WordPress.
Because of the CMS’s popularity, entrepreneurs can find developers on basically every job board, it might be better to search on a more focused platform to make sure they find the best person for the job.
Luckily, there’s an abundance of specific marketplaces to find developers of all kinds, not just WordPress.
However, entrepreneurs should do their research before posting a job ad. There are sites out there that aren’t for free and fees might cost up to 200 hundred dollars to post on an ad for a long-term hiring.
That being said, they should take into consideration their project, its complexity, and its length. There’s no need to spend hundreds on dollars on different ads when they’d end up hiring a professional for a small project that’s going to be finished in a few days or maybe weeks.
This is where websites like WP Hired could prove useful. It’s a dedicated website covering everything WP-related from development to design. Entrepreneurs can find the right person easily on the platform, even if they are looking for a professional with a particularly specific project or task in mind. As a bonus, the website is free, so business owners don’t have to reach int their pockets to find their person.
Other sites like Upwork and Outsourcerly can also give entrepreneurs a chance to find the right person and can also serve as a great base for more projects down the road, especially if they wish to scale their business or have other plans that involve a developer for the long-term.
They only need to get to know the basics of how the site functions, create a profile and they can start searching for the right person.
2. Word of mouth
If you are a business owner who’s been embracing the features of the digital realm for a long time now, chances are, you’ll be able to find your preferred developer just by taking a thorough look at your LinkedIn contacts or telephone book.
Networking can take you a long way and in such instances can cause you fewer headaches. Great developers in the area are usually renowned and if you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ve probably heard of them and even know them.
On the other hand, if you are new to the digital marketing scene, and web development, things can be a bit more complicated.
If you have a network of fellow entrepreneurs and marketers around you, ask away. Chances are, your business partners know a professional developer who’s specializing in WordPress. It’s a really popular platform among businesses so the outlook is pretty positive for you even if you don’t know the developer scene that well.
The key point is to take into consideration those recommendations that come from people who have the experience and the authority in the field. If you’ve received a recommendation from a business owner who runs a successful WooCommerce site, you should listen to that person.
And if you are out of ideas, you can also try “treasure hunting” by visiting websites you admire and know that are based on WordPress. If all else fails, you can always reach out to someone on the website and ask who designed their page.
3. Use your own resources
Entrepreneurs often overlook the power of their brand. Social media is a powerful tool and if they already have a strong online presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, chances are, they can find a developer with ease.
Launching a smaller ad campaign can prove to be useful and the budget can be reasonable too. Apart from paid ads, business owners can also spend a little time researching these sites. Joining an open Facebook group focusing on web development can be a step in the right direction just as giving digital marketing groups a try.
There are a lot of freelance professionals constantly looking for projects and opportunities and as such, posting on the right places can shorten the waiting time for the right developer.
Entrepreneurs can also take initiative and reach out to the programmers they think is right for the job via professional profiles.
4. Doing it yourself
A lot of business owners decide to take matters into their own hands when it comes to configuring a WordPress site because in most cases, there’s no need for coding and the platform looks fairly easy on the surface.
This can be a highly cost-effective option for those who have experience and good base knowledge in web development, however, it might not work great for those who don’t have the time or the proper experience to configure the website.
For the tech-savvy entrepreneur, installing different themes and plugins, reading the documentation and configuring may seem like a great challenge, for the wast majority of businessmen, this might end up looking more like a nightmare, especially if they are entirely new to the CMS. The more advanced the website, the more functionality it has, the more likely that issues will occur and combining different plugins and themes could cause even greater disaster in the hands of those who aren’t really familiar with web development.
As said before, WordPress might seem easy on the surface, however, developing a complex website with multiple themes and plugins requires several hundred hours of learning and most entrepreneurs simply don’t have that time at their disposal.
That’s why it would be best for most people to hire a professional who already has the knowledge and experience to take care of the project and configure the website in question.
5. Hiring an Agency
This might be the best solution for most people who’d like a functional site without all the hassle of creating one.
WordPress agencies will most probably cater to all needs, however, they might be a bit more on the expensive side of the scale. On the other hand, it’s probably the most straightforward route to take and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Most agencies are flexible when it comes to their services and based on your needs, they can most certainly come up with a solution that will be agreeable to both sides.
The good side to this is that the entrepreneur will be consulting with acclaimed professionals who already have the necessary experience not just in the development department, but in the marketplace too. As such, they can come up with niche-specific ideas for their clients making the website in question even more functional.
Agencies constantly get feedback and constantly explore new technologies. They know how to improve user experience, so hiring them is always a sure bet.
6. Special staffing sites
Sometimes, running ads and job posts can prove to be futile leaving business owners without a professional developer and without a functioning website.
Agencies can be quite expensive and often the timelines are simply too long and because of the workload, deadlines can be missed.
Finding the right freelance professional can take weeks or even months and there’s little guarantee that the site owner will be totally satisfied with the end product.
To evade these problems, entrepreneurs can turn to special staffing sites that connect organizations and contractors through strict referral processes. Freelancers first need to be personally vouched before they can be referred to organizations, making this an ideal way to find good developers fast.
How to hire the right developer
Getting candidates to apply can take time, however, choosing the wrong person can even prolong the completion of the project so hiring the right one should be taken seriously.
Below, here are a few tips that you can apply:
1. Get to know the applicant
This might seem like extra work, however, most smart business owners put in the effort and get to know the person before handing the project to a freelancer they don’t know. Organizing a phone call or Skype chat, or even having a little email conversation can be sufficient enough. It’s always best to meet up with the developer in person, but that can’t always happen due to today’s remote work trends.
At the same time, getting valid contacts like phone numbers and email addresses are also important. Being able to reach out to the developer can prove to be crucial, especially during urgent matters.
The bottom line: make sure you organize a call with your candidate. A short interview can get you a better look at them and their behavior can possibly tell you more whether they are to person for you or not.
2. References and Portfolios
Getting real customer testimonials is also an important part of the hiring process, and luckily, acclaimed WordPress developers can easily provide them. Also, looking for reviews and recommendations on Facebook and Google can be a good idea mostly because it’s rather difficult to forge reviews.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies are doing just that so entrepreneurs must be alert and keep their eyes open for fake testimonials.
Just as with references, great developers can easily provide examples of their previous projects that are now up and running.
Smart businessmen always ask for portfolios since hiring an inexperienced developer who just entered the market can cause a lot of unwanted headaches.
3. Go beyond WordPress
Even though WP knowledge and skills are in the focal point, an experienced and top-tier WordPress developer most likely has some other skills and qualities to give too. Apart from WordPress, good WP developers know how to use Photoshop, Fireworks, have UX/UI knowledge, experience, and knowledge in hosting, know about the importance of optimization, conversion rates, and have a good understanding of how the world of digital marketing generally works.
4. Good work ethic
Having a good work ethic and a comprehensive process for keeping clients up to date about the project and billable time are features that all great WordPress developers should have. Business owners should also have their own way of tracking work progress and timeframe so that both sides have a traceable and transparent system when it comes to outlining the work and the pay.
Luckily, there are great platforms and applications out there that can monitor the work of the developer that can give business owners better insight into what’s happening with their website and what they are paying for.
Great developers regularly give updates about the projects and tell if they’ve run into obstacles or if they will finish the project on time or even before the deadline. Having a meeting every few days or once every week, in accordance with the size and scope of the project should be necessary and good developers know that.
Good response time is also essential for a professional to be regarded as “great”. Getting a timely response to emails is a crucial factor especially when the website requires urgent changes. Most developers are working on more than one project and they may not be able to provide fast feedback, however, all responsible professionals respond within 24 hours.
Delays in the initial conversation are always a clear sign that the developer isn’t really that professional or is working on too many projects as it is.
Regarding everything from payments, general business information, overall website security details, and website credentials should be handled securely by the person who is being handed the project.
6. Professionalism and experience
This has been stated before but it’s the foundation of a successful collaboration. Based on the requests, the WordPress developer should have a deep understanding of the WP platform, starting from the plugin ecosystem, to security, core aspects, and custom theme development. More complex projects often require the modification of the WP core framework and only knowledgeable and experienced developers should execute those tasks.
Another important aspect should be the implementation of a monthly maintenance and update plan, especially if there’s a content-heavy website involved with constantly updated content and functionality. Ongoing support should also be a top priority for business owners.
Most business owners tend to think about WordPress as an easy to use website that everybody can configure, modify, and maintain. While it’s true, that the CMS is fairly simple to operate and take care of, that’s mostly the surface.
Adding new features and plugins can cause different issues and in some cases, professional help is required to solve the arising problems. On the other hand, there are projects which simply need the touch of a seasoned WP developer to ensure that the end result will be a gorgeous website and not an online disaster. Tech-savvy entrepreneurs may be able to tackle most of the obstacles but for those less knowledgeable in the WP ecosystem, hiring a professional is the best route to take.
Search-wise, the most secure option is hiring a development agency with a proven track record. It may be a more expensive option, however, it comes with the least amount of hassle and businessmen can rest assured that their future site is in good hands.
Hiring freelancers can also be a great idea, especially if there’s a tighter budget involved, however, finding the right person could be a time-consuming endeavor and in some cases, the project might end up in the hand of several freelancers before it gets finished. It’s not that the freelance community lacks in high-profile professionals, it’s just rather hard to find them and chances are, they are already preoccupied with several projects already. On the other hand, billing, traceable working hours, regular meetings and deadlines should be all streamlined and respected by both sides.
All in all, finding a good developer shouldn’t be a daunting task if the entrepreneur knows where to look. Hopefully, this article can serve as a good base for getting started and knowing what (and who) to look for.