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Business Owner’s Guide to Hiring WordPress Developers

Need a Developer but Have No Idea How to Find a Good One? Keep Reading

If you’re engaged in the day to day operations of your business, you probably don’t have the inclination to learn how to develop or maintain your WordPress site. You definitely don’t have time to spend writing code for your website. You have people to do that for you, right?

Even if you know the basics like HTML or CSS, don’t you also have a hundred other things to demand your attention?

Growing your business takes guts, hard work, and networking – so while you’re doing that, it’s probably best to leave the technical stuff to experts. (This is doubly true if you do a lot of business based on your web presence alone).

About 25% of websites are built using the WordPress platform. And for good reason: WordPress is customizable yet simple, flexible yet powerful, and comes ready-to-scale. But…

If you don’t know enough to determine who’s an expert and who isn’t, then how in the world do you hire the right talent?

This is a problem. Because…

Top-of-the-line developers can help you aggressively scale upward in the coming years, almost directly making you money.

They can create arrays, fix bugs, and build your site with an expert knowledge of SQL and PHP. Many will offer fast turnaround times to get you out from under deadlines, and keep you in the loop to put your mind at ease.

So don’t you want to know how to hire the right talent and avoid the wrong talent?

Then keep reading.

How to Know if You’re Getting a Good WordPress Developer

Developers are everywhere. They’re in Facebook Groups, on LinkedIn, or retained at agencies. Finding one shouldn’t be a problem; finding a good one might be. So are a few high-level tips to keep in mind on your search.

They’ll Help You Get Detailed

Often, the extent of business owners’ vocabulary consists of saying they need a “WordPress Expert” or “WordPress Developer” or a “WordPress Ninja” or something of the sort. If you aren’t technical, it can feel like pulling teeth to try to articulate what you need.

But that’s okay! The communication problem can actually provide us a good starting point for identifying a developer you want to work with. A good developer will be able to help you figure out what you want. They’ll get on a call and help you identify what steps you need to reach your goal, and how it’ll help your business. This way builds trust.

If you DO have a good idea of how to communicate your needs, you can even take it a step further and draft a clear, detailed outline. This will likely be a step in the development cycle anyway, but you can save everyone some time and money by getting clear from the start. Include your budget and deadline.

Plus, this might signal to developers that you are a Good Client, you know what you’re talking about and will be easy to work with. You’ll have a better chance at attracting top-tier developers this way.

Avoid Freelance Platforms

Platforms can teach freelancers to stand out amongst the competition, do their research, avoid bad clients, negotiate fees, and send personalized proposals. For developers just starting out, they can be a valuable source of experience…

Which is why I advise you to avoid them.

If you actually need real results out of their WordPress expert, go somewhere else. Here’s why:

In the freelance economy, platforms create a kind of “race to the bottom.” Freelancers are encouraged to compete on price, not quality. So while you may be able to get very cheap rates off of sites like UpWork, the quality will often reflect that.

While there are some very skilled and professional freelancers out there, who make a good living off of their skills, there are also many unreliable ones.

Freelancers have several good qualities: they’re flexible, agile, and often inexpensive. But the very freedom that gives them these characteristics also makes them unreliable. They have a reputation for flaking on a project, not returning emails or calls, and communicating poorly. In fact, I personally know several people who have had freelancers take an upfront deposit and vanish, leaving the client with less money and still stuck on a problem.

If you do decide that price is a concern and hire a freelancer, your best bet is to get one through referrals. Ask friends and colleagues. Odds are, if you’ve been in the industry long enough, someone you know will have good experiences with a developer.

However, there is another option:

Larger Consultancies

Should you go the other route, avoid freelancers altogether, and lock down a large, in-demand WordPress agency for your project?

Maybe. While these agencies will typically offer the best quality, they come with their own set of headaches. Some larger development agencies charge higher fees for average work, yet aren’t as responsive to your requests. Even if they do high-quality work, it may come slowly, and at an exorbitant cost.

More than once, we’ve been called in to “save” a project from being lost in middle development with a large agency. Due to internal issues and communications failing, the project had been continuously delayed until the poor client turned to us for help.

As with hiring a freelancer, do your research. Figure out what kind of pricing the developer is charging, look at case studies and a portfolio (if they have one) and, most of all, know their reputation.

What You Should Require

Whether you go with a freelancer or a developer from an agency, there are several universal qualities you should look for. Here are my suggestions:

Experience

I would look for developers with at least three years of experience. For freelancers you might require more, to ensure you aren’t getting someone who read a book about WordPress and labeled himself a “developer.” Look at their body of case studies or their portfolio. Even if you aren’t sure how to evaluate a portfolio project, you can always ask them about the details and explain what you need.

Communication

Your developer should keep you in the loop at all times. I’m not saying that they have to be responsive 24 / 7, but you should have a good idea of how your project is going day by day. Good developers will build accountability and transparency into the development cycle, so you see proposed designs and give them the go ahead before they’re finalized.

Quality Guarantee

Whether it’s a freelancer or an agency, they should be able to offer some kind of quality guarantee if the work is delayed or poor on their part. That means hitting deadlines, signing NDAs, or offering cancellations when you ask.

Conclusion

If you hire the wrong freelancers, they could flake, not live up to their expectations, or slow down progress as you wait for them to do the work. And if you go with a less-than-reputable agency, they might tie you up with a “revolving door” of developers, poor talent, lack of privacy, or any other number of downsides.

(Trust me on this…I’ve been “behind the scenes” of certain agencies and have been disappointed in how they conduct business. So I helped to structure Capital Numbers specifically to make sure that our clients never have to worry about quality assurance or timeframes.)

However…hiring the right developers could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made, for your business and your peace of mind.

To give you an example, at Capital Numbers we demand that all of our WordPress developers:

  • have at least three years of experience
  • are supervised by a technical lead
  • keep you in the loop at all times

Further, we make sure to get clients on a consultation to get clear about requirements, which helps clients who have no technical experience.

I suggest that you place similar requirements on your developers, whether you go with a freelancer or an agency.

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