Having an online presence is non-negotiable these days for any type of business. Fortunately, with WordPress-run websites being the standard nowadays (used by some 20% of all online websites), it’s very reasonable to get a website up and running, even on a startup budget. If this is your first time outsourcing, there are a few precautions to help prevent delays, headaches and heartaches, such as:
- The project taking much longer than estimated, holding up other pieces of your marketing and putting your business in limbo
- The developer says “yes” to everything on the phone, but a few weeks later you get a website that looks like nothing like what you have in mind
- You get an invoice that goes way beyond the initial quote, throwing off your budget
- Certain functionalities are not working as expected… and would not be fixed without further charges
- You already sink thousands of dollars into the project, and the developer left you with a half-finished website you have to keep building on your own because the budget ran out.
To prevent the above scenarios or other hiccups, here are 10 things you can do when hiring a WordPress developer:
1. Review their Portfolio
This is a no-brainer. Look to see what websites this developer has made in the past and take the time to click around to see if everything works properly. Are the sites loading fast? Do they look visually appealing? Is anything broken? Be sure to review at least 3-4 recent websites to get a good idea of what you may be getting. If you can get feedback from their past clients, that’s always a plus.
2. Know the Scope
If the developer charges by the hour, you may want to set a cap on how much you want to spend in your agreement prior to the start of the project. Ask the developer to report the “burn rate” periodically and notify you if the project is likely to go over budget so you can prioritize the tasks and feature. At the very least, you can get the minimal functionalities in place so you can launch your site. If you are charged a flat fee for a fixed amount of deliverables, review the scope carefully to make sure everything leading up to site launch is covered, and you will get the support you need post-launch to get up and running.
3. Clarify Ownership and Access
Although rather uncommon these days, I have heard stories of developers retaining ownership of the site and withholding access so every time the clients need to make updates they have to pay for the work. Be sure to OWN the domain name and host the website yourself. Domain names cost under $10 USD and hosting runs about $40 USD a year. Hosting it yourself will save you a lot of trouble later on.
4. Ensure Mobile Responsiveness
Over half of your visitors could be accessing your website via mobile device so having a site that works well on mobile is critical. Most themes are mobile responsive now, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about it. Certain customization and code changes may cause visual elements to be displaced so it pays to make sure that mobile responsiveness a requirement in your scope of work.
5. Get QA/Testing Support
Your developer should do some basic testing before the site is handed off to make sure the it is compatible to all major browsers, and on mobile devices. This includes having all the visual elements displayed according to the approved design, and all the functionalities are working per your scope.
6. Get a Warranty
When you go look around and start using your site, you may uncover glitches that are not found during initial testing. Your developer should stand behind his work and offer a 30-60 day warranty to fix any glitches.
7. Ask For a Walkthrough
If you are new to WordPress and how it works, make sure to ask for a walk through so you know how to create new pages and make minor updates on your own. Not only would you save money because you don’t have to pay someone every time you need to change or add something, you will also feel empowered and be more nimble in your content creation and marketing.
8. Get Educated
You don’t have to know how to code, but understanding the basics, knowing what to ask and using the correct terminologies can help facilitate the process. There will be fewer chances of miscommunication, which can lead to your developer building something totally different than what you *think* you are getting, wasting precious time and money. Also get educated on what features to ask for. WordPress comes with a ton of plugin and most are free to install. For instance, here are some common ones:
- Email Collection Tool (to help collect email addresses for your newsletter)
- Spam Blocker
- SEO Plugin
- Social Media icons
9. Know Your Responsibility
To make sure your project comes in on time and on budget, you have to do your part as well – what is the deadline to provide content and images so the project can stay on track? When do you need to review the site on staging and provide feedback? When do you need to participate in testing? Make sure you communicate with your developer and block out time on your calendar to perform these tasks. If you need to provide additional information (e.g. hosting, other log-in credentials), consolidate them in one document or email so your developer can find them easily (you don’t want to be billed half an hour for tracking down some username, right?) Be cooperative – it will make your developer’s job easier and he will be more likely to get back to you in a timely manner and do a good job (who wants to deal with client-from-hell?)
10. Know the Price
A basic WordPress website will run you $500+ USD. It will look pretty much the same as the theme you choose. If you want to deviate from a specific theme, this is where things can get pricy because additional coding will be needed. It’s best to find a theme that closely matches what you are looking for.
11. Be sure to OWN rights to any images used in the blog
Be sure you have rights to every image used on the site. A lot of times developers will random Google images onto a site as placeholders. These need to be replaced right away with your own images or images from Stock websites you can purchase or free images from websites like pixabay.com
About the Author Ling Wong is an Intuitive Brainiac. Through her unique blend of Business + Marketing coaching with a Mindset + Psychic Twist, she helps her clients distill ALL their big ideas into ONE cohesive Message, nail the WORDS that sell and design a Plan to cut the busywork and do what matters, through her intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years of experience in the online marketing industry. Find Ling and grab her free “How to Find YOUR Winning Formula” Training Series.