Everything You Need to Know Before Hiring a WordPress Designer or Developer
July 19, 2021
In the world of website design and development, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. But web design companies are not created equal. Before you set out to find a professional web designer or developer, stop and consider what kind of expertise you need to accomplish your goals.
For example, you must know the purpose of your website, the functionality needed to keep business moving forward, who on your team can create content and manage updates (if anyone), and how much can afford to spend on it all. Knowing specific details like these will help you hire a web designer with the right skillset.
Even with your website requirements in hand, finding the right person to build your website can be challenging. Choosing a web designer means sorting through a myriad of options, approaches, philosophies, and styles. As we said, there are many ways to create a website, but which way is the best?
Many people are interested in hiring a website development and design agency that specializes in WordPress—and for good reason. In our professional opinion, there is no better platform with the flexibility and functionality to meet a variety of needs. We aren’t the only ones who think WordPress is the best platform for custom-built websites. In fact, 39.5 percent of all websites are running on WordPress.
If you are experiencing frustrations with your website and wondering if WordPress is good for web development, keep reading. In this blog post, we will walk you through everything you need to think through before hiring a WordPress website developer.
Consider the Purpose of a Website in Your Unique Context
Before beginning the search to find a web designer, stop and ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you want a website?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Who will use it?
- What is your message?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What actions will they take?
- How will you know it’s working?
You may think that all you need is someone who understands WordPress, but we believe that every website should begin with a strategy. The best-performing websites are created with customer personas in mind, with clear goals and key performance indicators to ensure that everything is on track. After all, a website without a strategy is like a ship without a sail.
Prioritize the Website Functionality You Need
Our web design and development process prioritizes customization because not all websites are created equal. Now is the time to think granularly about what you want your website to do so that you find a pro who knows how to do what you need. Here are some questions to think through:
- Do you want your website to generate leads?
- Is eCommerce a priority?
- Do you need people to book appointments online?
- Are there specific WordPress plugins you need?
- Are there WordPress themes you already know you may want to use?
- What level of custom graphic design do you think you may need?
One thing to understand about WordPress is that it’s often template-driven. This has pros and cons. Some web designers may know how to push the right buttons to make a templatized theme come to life but they may not have the skills to customize that theme to meet all of your requirements.
Make a list of the things you want on your site, e.g. number of pages, specific functionality, any special imagery or branding considerations, and share that with the designers or developers you’re considering for hire.
Determine the Cost of Hiring a Web Developer
Website design and development fees can vary wildly depending on what you need. That is why it is crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of your needs and requirements before beginning your search for a professional website developer. Here are a few tips and you create your website budget:
- You get what you pay for. If your budget is limited, set priorities.
- Beware of getting into a contract with a freelancer or agency that doesn’t have the skill set to accomplish the parts that matter most to you.
- Know that scope creep is often inevitable. Budget for unexpected things you may want to incorporate as you work through the process.
Decide Who Is Responsible for Your Website
Large companies often have a website administrator, but small businesses and nonprofits may have trouble deciding who on the team is best suited to handle the website. In other cases, website management is shared across positions. Website management typically falls to one of the following roles:
- Small Business Owner
- Marketing Team
- Solo Marketing Manager
- Office Administrator
While this is the ideal situation, we understand that you may not have the manpower for this. When you’re shopping for a web designer, keep in mind that full-service agencies will often build and manage your site for you.
How Will You Manage and Update Your Website Content?
Content Management Systems (CMS) come in varying shapes and sizes, so consider which is the best CMS for your business or organization. While we do think WordPress is the best, there are other platforms with CMS functions such as Squarespace, Joomla!, Drupal, or you could opt for a custom-built CMS solution.
Tactically speaking, it helps to have a content strategy in place for ongoing updates that will be needed to keep your website content fresh and up-to-date. For example:
- Can you/do you have time to create content yourself or do you want someone else to manage it for you?
- Is there someone on your team who knows how to update website content (or can be trained to do it)?
- Do you have photos and videos to showcase?
Knowing these answers in advance will help you identify the type of CMS that will suit your needs. We understand that this process can get complicated. If you’re not sure what you need, a good developer will be willing to talk it through with you and help you identify the best CMS for your business.
What Are Your SEO Goals?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an entire process all on its own, but SEO does have a significant impact on how your website is designed. Make sure that whoever is building your WordPress site understands how to make proper allowances for SEO best practices.
It’s helpful to have a list of keywords for which you think you should rank highly so that the designer knows this in advance. A thorough keyword research process will help you discover the right keywords for your particular business and location and the likelihood of ranking for the keywords you want. If you’re using tools like Google Analytics, your developer will need access to make sure that technical SEO is in place.
If your eyes just glazed over and SEO strategy has your head in a vice, give us a call! We can simplify the complexities of SEO for you and make sure that you have the right keywords in the right places so your website will rank.
Who Will Write the Content For Your Website?
Websites have so many moving pieces—don’t let website content creation slip through the cracks. A pretty website will only get you so far—your content has to be solid if your website is going to work for you. A professional website designer should be asking you questions like:
- Do you have content or are you starting from scratch?
- If you have content, is it optimized for search?
- Do you need someone to create the content for you or do you plan to write it yourself?
You need someone who knows how to write content for a website. If you need help with this there are many website content creation services online, or you can contact us for a quote.
Do You Need a WordPress Developer or a WordPress Designer?
This can be the tricky part. Once you have processed everything on this list, it’s time to decide if you need an expert in WordPress web design or if WordPress development services would better suit your needs. In fact, you may need both. It really depends on your priorities and what matters most to you. Here are some points to keep in mind as you make your decision.
Web designers are like architects and developers are the building contractors. Their form and function complement each other but each one has a unique skill set. Some designers can do some development work, and vice versa. If you have an idea of what you want your site to look like (maybe an example site or 2), then a good developer would be able to use that as a basis for the design.
Some agencies or freelancers can do both, some focus only on one aspect of it. Get that clarity before signing any contracts. Furthermore, if you need a lot of functionality, e.g. eCommerce or online courses, make sure whoever you hire has the tech chops to create an excellent user experience.
Explore Options for Finding a WordPress Expert
Knowing what you’re looking for in a website designer or developer should make exploring your options a pretty straightforward process. Here are some places you can begin the search for the best WordPress developer or designer depending on your specific needs.
- Google search for the specific skills you’re looking for and compare results.
- Use a service like Upwork or Fiverr to find someone on an as-needed basis.
- Ask peers for referrals.
- Look at who made your competitors’ sites.
- Consider Writing a Request for Proposal
Working through the steps of an RFP will provide clarity for you and whoever you’re trying to hire. If you need a guide to writing a website RFP, check out our post Find the Best Website Design Company in 5 Easy Steps (Hint: Write an RFP)
Custom WordPress Development and Design
Many of our website development and design clients come to us in need of a redesign. Perhaps that’s why you’re here today. Are you unsatisfied with your current website and want a change? Maybe it’s time to hire a website designer that’s proficient in WordPress.
Despite the availability and ease of WordPress, we are still surprised by all the outdated and arbitrary website code that still exists out there. We recommend avoiding at all costs any freelance or web design agency that tries to sell you a proprietary solution that no one understands but them. Oftentimes these solutions are all about making it easy for the one building the website, not the one requesting it.
From Pittsburgh, Chambersburg, Philly, and beyond, we offer WordPress website development services for clients around the world. We have experience building WordPress websites in a variety of industries and can work with you to create a website according to your specific requirements.