hiring a wordpress developer

7 Easy Tips for Hiring a WordPress Developer

What You'll Learn

Hiring a WordPress developer to help build your website is an important decision and the right developer could be the difference between success and failure in your business. However, finding the right developer can be a significant challenge. This guide will explain the process, explain the costs and explain how to find the right WordPress developer for your business.

While WordPress allows you to do a lot on your own and to add themes and plug-ins to expand it, not everything is easy or intuitive.  Sometimes you need to fix complicated errors or you need custom functionality built.  Thankfully, WordPress provides a good platform to do that on, but some projects will require someone with more technical expertise than you have.

The problem is finding the right person.  Without the technical expertise yourself, you need to answer several key questions when trying to hire a WordPress developer.

  • Where do you find a quality WordPress developer?
  • How do you determine if this person has the right experience for your problem?
  • How do you ensure that the developer delivers?
  • How much does a WordPress developer cost?

These are all important questions that need to be answered before you hire a WordPress developer.  Once you have hired them, you will want to ensure that you have good practices in place for working with a WordPress developer during your project. 

Let’s get started so you can get on with your project!

Finding a WordPress developer

First things first, where do you go look for a WordPress developer to hire?  First, what is a WordPress Developer, what do we mean by that?

For our purposes here, a WordPress developer is someone who can fix WordPress coding and configuration issues, create plug-ins and add or change functionality to a WordPress site. While many of these same techniques here will work when hiring a web designer, they are often different skill sets.  For our purposes right now, we are talking about hiring someone who codes and can add/change or fix something in the code on your WordPress website.  They might have some design skills too, and can often make CSS changes but usually, a developer has a different set of skills than a web designer.

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Where to find a WordPress Developer

Online

One of the easiest places to find a WordPress developer is online. There are several sites that you can use to hire a WordPress developer.

  • Upwork – Upwork is an online marketplace that you can use to hire different talent to help you out.  There are all sort of people on there at different skill levels, so it’s a great place to find different skills. You post a project, contractors apply and then you can interview them and select the one that is best for you.
  • FiverrFiverr is a bit diifferent than Upwork.  Intead of you deciding the project, contractors will post projects on there at a fixed price and you “buy” the package that they are offering. Many will also do separate projects. Fiverr is good for predefined work.
  • Independent Contractors – With a Google search, you can often find developers that post their skills on their own sites.

The benefit to an online marketplace is that you get applicants around the world applying.  You will see all sorts of prices and skill levels applying for your projects.  However, this can also make it difficult to sort out the best options.

The marketplaces also typically offer your some protections in the case that the developer doesn’t deliver.  Often they will escrow your payment and not release it until you approve the work.

Locally

You might have someone in your own neighborhood who does work.  You could ask around local web designers, IT shops, colleges, and such to see if anyone in your local network knows anyone that they recommend.  You could also try posting on Craigslist and see if someone locally applies there. 

The benefit of someone locally is that you might get to meet them and assess them.

What to look for when Hiring a WordPress Developer

When you’re evaluating a WordPress developer, there are several things that you need to consider.  Unfortunately, they’re all important.

The Developer’s Experience

Of course, you need to hire the right experience.  Depending on the complexity of what you need, you don’t always need the WordPress developer with the most experience.  Any decent developer should have experience in PHP.  This is the language that most of the back end of WordPress is written on. 

If they are doing something on the front-end, they will probably also need HTML experience, which is the language that your browser uses to put the content on the page. It outlines things like headings, paragraphs, images, links, etc. 

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If they need to do any design changes, they probably will need to have worked with CSS.  CSS, or Cascading Stylesheets (because multiple “style sheets” may be applied to the same page).  CSS is used to style a webpage with things like margins, fonts, colors, layout, and that sort of thing.

If you need help creating user interactions, especially things like forms, calculators, programs that run on the page then your WordPress developer may need experience with JavaScript, which is a language that runs on your browser and allows a webpage to interact with the user. Things like forms, games, calculators, and the like are usually JavaScript.

WordPress uses all of these things.  It’s not unlikely that an experienced developer will have experience in all of them.

A good developer should show you their experience and they should be able to show you samples. Depending on your project, they may not have done something exactly the same.  They may not always be able to share the work they did for someone else, but ask them to share examples.  You want to see that they have them and you want to get a feel for the kind of work that they do.

Personality

Some people are great WordPress developers. Some people are great clients.  Sometimes, they don’t go together anyway.  Personality makes a difference.  You aren’t marrying your WordPress developer (or you’d need a whole different post for that) but you need someone that you can get along with. 

Communication is critical.  You need someone that listens to you and someone that asks questions.  You almost never get the requirements of a project right the first time. You need to know that they will come to you when they have to make a decision.

There are no solid questions to ask here. Even using a messaging app like used on Upwork to interview them can be helpful. 

Here are some things you want to ask yourself:

  • Can I work with them?
  • Do I understand how they communicate?  If you are non-technical and the developer keeps running off on some technobabble, it doesn’t understand how great a coder they are if you don’t understand the language they’re speaking.
  • Do they understand what I need?

This is about ensuring that you can communicate with each other and get the job done.  If you have trouble communicating what you need and the developer can’t understand you, that can be as much of a problem as them not understanding you.  Working with a WordPress developer is a partnership and you have to understand one another.

How Much Does WordPress Cost

How Much Does a WordPress Developer Cost

What it costs you for a WordPress developer can vary greatly depending on their experience, the nature of the project, and where they are from.  Be careful, though. You often get what you pay. 

Of course, when your developer lives somewhere cheaper than you do, their rates can seem much lower. Sometimes, this is a great solution, but there can often be cultural and communication challenges.  At the same time, the most expensive developer doesn’t necessarily make them the best, just the most expensive.

Make sure that you can communicate with the developer. That you share an understanding of what needs to be done and how long it will take.  Just because you need it yesterday, doesn’t mean that they can deliver quality work in that time.  You may have to adjust your timeline in order to get the right solution.

Typically, developers are paid in one of two ways:

  • Hourly – You pay them by the hours worked.  This can be great if it’s a quick project or they have a lower hourly rate. This can be a good solution with changing requirements or when you and the developer aren’t sure what needs to be done, such as troubleshooting a WordPress website problem.
  • Fixed Price – You pay the developer based on delivery of their work.  This could be all at once, or as parts of the solution are delivered.

The actual rate that you pay them can vary significantly.  In most cases, a developer in the United States, Canada, or Europe will cost you $50-100 per hour (or an equivalent fixed price).  Developers in Asia or eastern Europe may cost less.  Do not use price as your only determinant in who to hire.  A great developer who finishes the job right the first time and on the timeline is worth far more than starting a project, not getting what you paid for, and having to find someone else to do the work.

Either of these payment models can work. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.  In either case, you will want regular communication, a demonstration that work is happening, and a way to control your costs and timeline.  Just like with any job, it’s as much about how you manage it and the personality of the contractor as anything else.

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There are good and bad developers everywhere. Even some great developers just may not mesh with what you want.  Make sure that you have considered carefully what you need from them and that they are prepared to deliver it.

Finding the Right WordPress developer for you

Okay, so now we know where to find them and what paying them looks like.  How do you find the right one for you and your project?  You have some work to do first.  Here are some things that you can do to help ensure success in finding the right WordPress Developer for your project.

Define requirements

Believe it or not, this is the place that many…maybe even most, projects fail.  The person hiring a developer doesn’t know what they want. Sure, they can give you an idea and say why things aren’t right today.  When asked for specifics they aren’t sure.  The other problem is that we all make assumptions. You assume that because you understand your problem in a certain way, the developer will too.

Try writing down what functionality you want. Maybe draw a flow chart of how you want user interactions to work.  Draw out a user interface. Even a bunch of boxes on a piece of paper can help. 

The more information and specificity you can give your developer, the more likely they are to deliver what you want and to find any potential problems with it.  They don’t know your site or your business like you do.

Done well, this will also often save you time, which means it saves you money.  You won’t have as much rework and are more likely to avoid bugs.

Talk to the Developer First

Both Upwork and Fiverr allow at least a text-based conversation.  Sometimes a phone, video, or even in-person conversation can help as well.  At a minimum, you want to get a sense of how the WordPress developer communicates, if they understand your needs and if they can explain the technical parts to you.

If you’re hiring from another country, they may not share the same first language as you.  This isn’t necessarily a problem, but written communication might be easier for both of you.  That’s okay as long as you can communicate. 

No matter what, don’t hire a developer based just on their experience and their application.  You want a chance to talk to them somehow and ensure that you are both working in the same direction.  You will eventually need to share requirements, bugs, and changes.  Misunderstanding can be expensive and can take up a lot of time.

You want to ask them questions to ensure they understand.  Some sample questions to consider include:

  • How do you plan to approach this?
  • What was the most recent project that was most like this? 
  • Tell me about a time when you had to fix a bug on a project and how you approached that.
  • How much experience do you have doing projects like this?
  • Can you show me an example of the project you’ve done that is most like this?

Have you ever built a plug-in/theme (whatever you need) before? (Or have you ever fixed is kind of issue before?)

  • What do you need to know from me?

Questions to ensure their understanding will give you an idea of how well they communicate.  Simple,one-word answers won’t give you what you need and you should move on to the next developer.

Get References

If you’re hiring online, check their reviews.  Read through them.  Almost no one has perfect reviews every time.  Read through good and bad and get a sense of what the WordPress developer does well and where they don’t. 

If something in the reviews gives you doubt, perhaps ask more questions about what happened.  Even if they made a mistake, that isn’t the end of the world.  Get a sense of what they’d do differently.  Do they acknowledge responsibility?  Did they learn anything? 

If no reviews are available, then you have a bit more detective work to do.  Ask them for some references.  If someone referred you to them, then ask them their thoughts and if they know anyone else that the developer has worked with.  Ask the reference what the project was, was it finished on time/budget?  What was the biggest challenge?  How happy are they with the outcome?

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Hire for a Small Project First

Before you, hire a WordPress developer for a big project, hire them for a small project first.  When you can, a great strategy is to break up your big project into smaller parts. 

Hiring for smaller projects first gives you a chance to show that you can work together, that they will meet commitments, and that the WordPress developer can deliver what they promise.

Of course, they can always be on their best behavior for the beginning of the project but this strategy can help a lot.

No matter how big the project is, make sure that you follow the same hiring process:

  • Outline Your Requirements
  • Interview the WordPress Developer
  • Ask a lot of Questions

Getting the job done – The importance of creating project milestones and how to ensure your money is well spent

Once you have hired a WordPress developer, your work is just beginning.  Too many times, a client hires a developer and waits for something to happen. Meanwhile, weeks go by and no work is being done. The timeline keeps slipping more and more.  Don’t let that happen to you.

Work out milestones with the developer. Things that they can show you. They won’t be complete, your goal is to see progress.  They should give you regular reports of their progress and where they are headed. 

When a developer falls behind, give them a chance to fix it.  If they don’t appear to be fixing it, always have excuses, or aren’t communicating with you, then it’s time to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s often better to fire quickly.  It is always why it’s better to hire slowly.

Working with the Developer- Communication and accountability – How to successfully communicate with your WordPress developer

There are some things you can do to protect yourself when working with a developer.  This isn’t to say that developers are dishonest.  However, mistakes happen and it’s your site, so you want to protect yourself. 

Give the Developer Their Own Credentials – Give the developer their own user account.  Don’t give your login. That way, when the project is done, you can remove them as a user without compromising your own password. This is true of any other password you give them like hosting.  Some hosts will allow you to give them delegate access so that they can use their own accounts to access your site. 

Back-Up Your Site – Make a backup of your site using Updraft or another program.  Take a backup before the developer starts working and periodically as they do work.  Many developers will also take or recommend a backup before they get started.

Use a Staging Site – When possible (and it’s not always), it’s a good idea to use a staging site for development projects. These are basically copies of your site that allow you to do testing without hurting your main site.   This protects your main site but can create some hassle when you (or the developer) move your changes to the main site.  They also mean that you can give your WordPress developer access to the staging site without the main site, at least until you move the changes to the main site.

Hiring a WordPress Developer

Hiring a WordPress developer can be scary.  Sometimes you need some help with your site.  We have given you ways to find a WordPress developer, what to look for, and how to manage them.

You can hire one locally or online.  Either way, make sure that you interview them and check their references. Make sure that they are someone that you can communicate with and that you can work with them.

Know in advance the work that you want to be done.  Be specific and ask the WordPress developers about their ability and experience in that sort of work.  Assess work that they’ve done in the past and why that means that they should be successful now.

When you hire them, give them their own access and limit that access to what they need. Take a backup of your site and use a staging or backup site when it’s practical. 

Monitor their work. Look for regular updates and milestones that they can show you.  Give them a chance to fix issues, problems and unexpected issues show up.  If they go dark or make excuses, it’s time to move on.

Hiring anyone is difficult. It’s tough to find the right person and manage them.  Just because you hired expertise, you still have work to do.  Ask lots of questions and monitor progress.

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