It can be a challenge to find a WordPress developer with whom projects are both successful and problem-free. You want a WordPress site designed and built to the highest standard. You want it to be unique and for it to deliver exactly what you planned for. You want someone who is both easy to work with and who accomplishes what they promise.
The thing is, that costs money. And it will cost a lot more if you are not fully in control of your project and do not recruit the right WordPress developer into your team. The first step is to reconcile your project’s requirements with your budget, and determine what type of WordPress development fits your project the best.
Be Realistic About What A WordPress Developer Will Really Cost.
Lets clarify the three paths you can take to get a developer on board. The path you choose will dictate the price you will be looking at paying, so it’s vital to understand your choices.
A completely custom theme design, with custom coding and unique or modified plugins, all designed to deliver a unique, top-end user experience that functions flawlessly.
For such a custom project, you can expect to pay a developer $50-$150 per hour depending on the complexity of what you want done. A full theme and implementation project, with custom feature/plugin coding, is likely to be a 40-80 hour project (1-2 weeks). For all of these options, cost also rises proportionally to site size, particularly for brand new websites. So your development costs are going to be anywhere from several thousand to tens of thousands, depending on scale and scope.
Customization from an existing codebase.
This is the “middle ground” option. Because it is not as skilled, you can call on an extended pool of developers, which will lower the cost due to supply and demand.
This sort of project would usually involve working from an existing codebase, such as a WordPress framework (usually Genesis or Thesis), and building a child theme on top of it. It might involve some custom programming, graphics and implementation work. A developer will charge you in the $50-$100 per hour range for this type of work, putting your project into the low thousands of Dollars area.
Implementation of existing themes and plugins.
This is your low-end option. A theme that can be modified within its existing admin panel options is modified, perhaps with minor code edits. Existing plugins are used and implementation is basic.
This can deliver a perfectly good quality site for just hundreds of Dollars, at around $25-75 per hour.
Most WordPress developers have preferred development paths and structures they use and they then become experts within those boundaries. Understanding the paths will mean you understand limitations of your recruited choice better, which will get you a quality developer who fits your project.
Work With A Developer Who Will Work With You.
It’s not just about the money and technical capability, it’s also about another key factor that is sometimes overlooked by people unused to doing project management work: their “soft skills”, or people skills.
Will the developer integrate with the rest of your project team? Will language be a barrier? Is their communication thorough? Are they reliable? Do they understand what needs to be achieved? Do they have relevant project experience? Are they easy to work with? Do you get a good vibe from them?
Not taking into account how your team members will interact can cost you more money that you would save by hiring the cheapest WordPress developer, rather than the right developer.
Projects stall mostly because of clashes between the people working within them, through character differences, working methods or different communication and understanding styles. As the developer is going to be central to the project, their skillset match needs to be about more than their ability to code.
Also, in terms of cost, who will be the most engaged and go that extra mile from two identically qualified WordPress developers? The one you levered into the team, despite your reservations, based on lower cost, or the one who gave you a great vibe, understood what you want to achieve and is excited at integrating into your project, but who costs a bit more?
This point also feeds into the topic of project aftercare. The quality of a developers work is not just about how they work within the project itself. It is about forming a relationship that lasts, so that updates can continue as needed after the initial project ends.
There will be development needs ongoing, bugs and changes of mind to accommodate. Maintaining a relationship for the long term, that will give you immediate and high quality intervention, trumps a lower initial cost every time.
Look For Quality References
A good developer will easily supply references and recent examples of completed projects. If you are looking via a freelancing site then the quality of their feedback on relevant projects will also speak for itself.
As well as getting references and reviewing feedback, it helps to check your prospective developer out online. Do the places they hangout online show evidence of good standing, knowledge and balance in their contributions?
Do they have their own website? Is it high quality?
Do they blog on their own site or through guest blogging? Do they support the WordPress.org community? Are they on social media? What do you find if you Google their name or company?
Once you have seen their reputation, contact them and ask them relevant questions. Don’t make out it’s an interview or ask them for a “trial”. Most genuine, quality professionals will see that as condescending. Just find out what you need to know in a general and constructive manner.
Tell them about your project, who they would be working with, deadlines and vision – now and in the future. Gauge their interest and enthusiasm first and ascertain if you and your team can “get on“ with them, then dig a bit deeper into how they would deliver for you.
Too many people go in hard and start from the angle that “you prove to me you can do the job for me and at this cost,” That is a sure way to alienate a quality candidate – leaving you to sift through the trash.
What Skillset Do You Actually Need?
It is vital that you understand your own project in enough detail to select a WordPress developer who can fulfill the role you want them to fill. You cannot make any assumptions about the skillset of the developers you are selecting from.
- Is it pure coding work you want from them?
- What about knowledge of search engine optimization?
- How aware of web standards are they and what will they do as part of their work?
How about database and hosting work? Most developers know how to do basic database and server integration work. But does your project need more than that? Some developers have the skills to handle the whole server management side of things, while others will struggle.
Another thing to consider is who is doing your content and graphics work? Some WordPress developers can handle content generation and graphics work, but others are pure coders with no skills to even layout a page frame. Content is one of the most time consuming parts of web development projects, and it is crucial to have a plan for its source and design.
Lastly, physical location can be a big factor. Are you willing to deal with someone you would never see face to face? How about someone in a different time zone? Communication can be lower quality when not done face to face.
It points back to you. Know your project and make sure you understand what is required before you throw people into the job. It’s not fair to hire someone and then move the goalposts so that they are floundering but feeling they should carry on. That can lead to poor relations and poor quality work.
Be An Expert – Hire An Expert
If you know what you need to achieve within the project, then it will be easier to find the person to help you to achieve those clear goals. Taking the time to have clarity yourself, means that your potential developer can be clear on what he or she is signing up to and what is expected of them, singly and within a team.
If you know your team and what sort of personalities will complement it and build its strength, it makes your hiring decision easier. So as well as knowing the technical side of your project, you need to be in tune with the people working on it.
Of course price has to be a consideration. But it should be a consideration, not what drives your decision making process. Obsessing over a few dollars per hour saved could mean you miss out on the person who is the best overall fit to deliver better, quicker and who will be around for the future.