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1. Introduction

As we progress through the document, we utilize a step-by-step approach working from the groundwork to the completion of your project, covering a wide range of topics with a variety of information suited to differing project scales and your specific needs. We are confident that whatever the nature of your project, by keeping this guide close at hand, you’ll stand the best possible chance of finding the ideal development partner and thus realizing your project in the most effective and stress-free manner.

Whether you are considering a short-term project, a long-term business partnership, or simply a personal hobby website, we believe you will find this guide an invaluable resource. From the very start, we aim to empower you with knowledge so that you can make the most informed decision. We’ll do this by first laying out exactly what a WordPress website developer is responsible for, what separates the good from the bad, and overall how best to approach the selection process.

We are pleased to present you with a comprehensive guide to hiring your new development partner. This document has been prepared to provide you with the insights and knowledge you’ll need to find the best development partner for your business, how to avoid the pitfalls of hiring the wrong person, and what to expect from the relationship.

2. Understanding the Role of a WordPress Website Developer

A developer running a code snippet mod location should always document the changes made and the purpose of the change. This will make it easier to duplicate if the change is successful and it is required to remove all code changes if the desired result failed.

The most common type of mods location is a site-specific modification, which is also referred to as a code snippet. These mods locations are typically a single file that, when executed, will make a small change to a site. An example of a code snippet could be a new WordPress function change to your site menu. This can be executed in the form of a separate PHP file which explicitly calls the file, or it can be placed directly into your theme’s functions.php file.

There are currently numerous WordPress developers running the basic decisions on their clients regarding mods locations and the customization of the site. These mods locations are extremely useful, especially when managing mods on your live site. These types of locations are also useful when trying to isolate a particular issue or trying to test out a new code change by the developer.

2.1. Skills and Expertise Required

Although the developer doesn’t need to be a rockstar programmer, they should have a strong understanding of the core languages of web development and the ability to write in them. It’s crucial that they have a solid understanding of PHP, CSS, and HTML. If they have these skills, they will be capable of creating custom themes and plugins or modifying existing themes and plugins. If they are a good programmer and have these skills, they will be more efficient. This is because the WordPress software is written using PHP and its various tags; an adept PHP programmer will have a strong understanding of this and be able to make the software do more by creating custom modules. They should be able to do all of this while maintaining clean code. A developer who knows CSS well will be able to skin the site to look how you want. And HTML is the fundamental language of the web; a developer knowing this can ensure that your site is search engine friendly and easily accessible.

In this information-packed chapter, you’ll dive into the essence of how to choose a WordPress developer from the vast multitude. You’ll get a better understanding of their responsibilities, the difference in output you can expect from a good developer vs. a bad one, and what separates one developer from the next.

2.2. Responsibilities and Deliverables

Lastly, after the developer has finished his work, it is necessary to debug and test the site for functionality. After rigorous testing, the developer can present the site to his client. This is the time for the client to request any revisions or to polish up any details. A good developer always puts his client first and will do whatever it takes to ensure their full satisfaction.

Once the developer has established what he will be doing, he must then make a plan that will allow him to execute his work in a timely manner. This means creating a timeline that outlines specific goals and deadlines. A developer should always make their best effort to finish their work on time. A good way to ensure that the developer stays on track is relatively continuous communication between the developer and the client. This will allow the client to monitor the progress of their site and to make sure the developer is completing the work that was agreed upon.

The most important responsibility for any developer is to develop a type of site the client requested. Often times clients do not understand the capabilities of technology. Clients will have an idea in their mind of what they want the website to do. It is the developer’s job to understand this concept and make it reality. At the same time, the developer will be able to offer valuable input on the type of technology that will allow the client to accomplish their goals. In this case, it may be a PHP feature, a complex Flash animation, a Content Management System (CMS), etc. During this process, the developer will continuously communicate with the client to make sure his work is meeting the client’s expectations.

Responsibilities of a WordPress website developer will depend on the agreement between the developer and the client. However, there are usually a few responsibilities that are commonly expected.

3. Finding the Right WordPress Website Developer for Your Project

Before beginning to look for a WordPress developer, it’s important to know the scope of your project. This means knowing the number of pages you want, the purpose of the website, and the features you’ll need. The more you know, the better you can articulate your project to prospective developers. This is particularly important in fully understanding whether the developer’s skills match your requirements.

Your WordPress website developer will be responsible for creating the online home for your business, brand, and identity. That’s why it’s so important to choose a developer with great skills, a solid track record of success, and who understands your specific business needs. This article shares some valuable tips on how to find and choose the right WordPress website developer for your business.

3.1. Defining Your Project Requirements

In order to define the project requirements, it is important to spend some time doing planning. This should include initially brainstorming a list of all the features and functions you want your web site to have, and then organizing these into a priority list. For example, a members site with two types of users who can retrieve different information from a database, and the ability for these users to change their own details, are likely to be high priority items. They would be defined as Phase One. A lower priority item may be a search function to allow visitors to retrieve specific information, generated from the same database. This would be defined as a Phase Two item. By defining your project into phases it will allow you to get a clear picture of how your site will expand in the future, and will help the developer to give you a more accurate quote based on the work for Phase One.

3.2. Researching and Evaluating Developers

It is very important to find a developer that communicates effectively. You want to be sure that you understand what the developer is saying, and that the developer is able to clearly understand what your needs are. This can involve taking into account the developer’s proficiency with the English language, but more importantly than that it involves asking the right questions. You will want to explain your project as thoroughly as you can, and see if the developer is asking questions of substance. A good developer will also follow up with a detailed summary of your project to ensure that they understand what is expected of them. This could involve a simple bulleted list, or could be a formal document. This is important because there can often be misunderstandings with respect to the scope of a project. A developer that does not communicate well will have difficulty delivering your project as you intended it.

A good developer will have a number of repeat clients. Although it could be a bad sign if a developer has a large amount of repeat clients because that could mean that they are unable to retain customers which could mean there is a problem with their work.

You will of course want to review the developer’s past work. This can be in the form of a portfolio, or just a list of websites that they have built in the past. The benefit of asking to view a portfolio is that you will be able to see if the work the developer is capable of looks professional. Anyone can just list websites, so you may want to follow up with a question of whether the listed websites were in fact solely the work of the prospective developer. This is especially true if the list contains websites of well-known companies of which you would expect better quality work. By the same token, the list may contain a number of small business sites of which adequate work would be sufficient. This is a judgment call that you would need to make.

When setting out to find the right person for your WordPress website project, it is important that you take the time to research and evaluate the developers you are considering. There are a number of methods for evaluating a developer with respect to your project, and a number of considerations to take into account.

3.3. Conducting Interviews and Assessments

One-on-one interviews and assessments are one of the most important steps in the process of finding and hiring a quality WordPress website developer. A face-to-face interview can provide you with more information than any resume could ever offer. Resumes can tell you if a candidate has the qualifications you are seeking and what his or her work experience is, but resumes don’t let you know if the developer is capable of brainstorming with you to come up with a solution to a problem or if that person is eager to learn and succeed. An eloquent resume and cover letter is no indication that a developer has the ability to think critically and execute a plan. Face-to-face interviews can expose a less talented developer who looks good on paper and reveal a hidden gem who has the potential to do great work. A good developer who is confident in his or her skills will welcome the opportunity to complete a brief assessment to showcase proficiency. An extensive test is not necessary and may be an insult to someone with a great deal of experience, but we recommend requiring a small assessment for developers who are still early in their careers. This testing will help you to identify the most skilled developer among several candidates.

4. Hiring and Collaborating with a WordPress Website Developer

Setting clear expectations and deadlines helps avoid many complications in the future. This may seem like an obvious step, but there are many occasions where a client does not have a clear plan on what they want out of a developer and assume that the developer will decide. Make sure to discuss in detail what is required out of the project and provide any necessary documentation. Often, planning with a developer will help identify any missing elements from the project. Develop a project plan with all the requirements of the project and schedule regular status meetings to ensure that the project stays on course.

Before hiring a website developer/agreeing on contract work, create a simple written agreement that outlines the Terms and Conditions of the project. Include a detailed project scope that outlines the specific requirements of your project – the more detailed, the better. A project timeline/milestones, payment terms, maintenance and support terms, project acceptance, and professional Code of Conduct are examples of what this should include.

To hire a quality website developer (off-site or staff), you need to start with a detailed job analysis. If you are not an IT professional, it is important to seek advice from a professional before hiring. Outlining what is exactly needed and expected out of the developer will save time and money. Be sure to use language that developers will understand and avoid using subjective terms such as “user-friendly,” “innovative,” or “creative.” This can lead to miscommunication and various results. It may also be a good idea to create milestones during the project that will help measure if what the developer is accomplishing is what was expected.

4.1. Negotiating Contracts and Agreements

A contract is a binding agreement that is legally enforceable. It is important to have the developer draft and review the contract with legal counsel or have a legal professional draft the contract. Contracts most often include the agreed upon cost, the scope of the project, estimated time for completion, hourly rate, and payment terms. The payment terms and schedule are a critical component of the contract. Developers may ask for a partial payment upfront before starting the project. This is not uncommon and has been an acceptable practice provided the developer has established credibility and trust with the client. An alternative to this would be to establish an escrow payment through a service such as PayPal. The client deposits the funds into the escrow account and specifies to the developer when the funds will be released, upon completion of the project. This ensures against the risk of the developer defaulting on the agreement. Other payment terms may include payment upon completion or payment in increments. The costs and conditions of the payment terms would be agreed upon and specific in the contract. Additional terms may include who is responsible for providing project materials and terms for terminating the contract. If the contract needs to be terminated, it is important that both parties understand the stipulations for doing so and the repercussions of termination. Having a detailed written agreement in this phase will alleviate any ambiguity and potential conflicts that could arise. Be sure that both the developer and client have a signed and dated copy of the contract.

4.2. Setting Clear Expectations and Deadlines

To prevent this, it is often a good idea to create a detailed functional specification for the developer. This is a document, often created in collaboration with the developer, which outlines exactly what is expected of the end product. It will include things like the features required, the layout and design, how content should be displayed, user interaction, admin and backend functionality, and any other specific requirements. The developer can then use this as a reference when building the site to ensure that it meets your expectations. This is also helpful for you, as you will have a clear set of goals for the project and something to refer to to ensure that it is on track. Of course, this will also enable the developer to give you a more accurate quote. An idea of the features and functionality required will help the developer estimate time and cost more accurately.

If the project with your developer is going to be a success, it is crucial that you make them fully aware of what you require and your expectations regarding the end product. If you are able to do this effectively and the developer has a clear understanding of what is required of them, it is highly likely that you will receive a product which is to your satisfaction. Conversely, failure to do this can result in the developer making assumptions about what is required and spending time creating something which is wide of the mark. This can lead to a breakdown in the working relationship and sometimes to the project being abandoned.

4.3. Effective Communication and Feedback

– Phone discussions can be more efficient than lengthy email conversations. It is not always easy to explain certain aspects of your website in an email, and picking up the phone can save a conversation from going around in circles. Regular phone calls that are short and to the point should be scheduled as to not become a distraction.

– Email is often used for communication between a WordPress developer and client. It is not always the best form of communication, but written confirmation is always good when you need to refer back to something. Try to ensure all important points are documented and ensure the email is understood by both parties.

– Setting up a clear plan of action for your WordPress project. This could be done using a simple document with breakdown points and deadlines of when you expect certain tasks to be completed. Having a written document is a great way to enforce what each party expects and provides something to refer back to.

Communicating your vision effectively to the WordPress developer is such an obvious, yet often overlooked task. Assuming that your chosen developer “knows what you mean” can be a huge risk. Poor communication can delay your project, cause frustration, and ultimately affect the end result of your WordPress website. The best form of communication is achieved when both parties have an understanding of what is expected and when it is expected by. Both the WordPress developer and you, the client, should have end goals in mind, in which you would like to regain feedback on progress. Ways of achieving this could be via:

4.4. Monitoring the Development Process

This is a crucial part of the entire development process. Many issues or misunderstandings can be resolved by properly staying on top of the developer and monitoring the progress. It is recommended that the developer has a demo version of the site on a private server where you can follow the development and watch the site progress as it is being made. If this is not possible, ask for regular updates and make sure the developer includes some of the features and functionality within your site before moving on. One of the major issues with offshore developers is that they can disappear for an extended period of time and claim they have been working on the site. If this happens to you, contact the company and request a full progress report/breakdown of hours spent on your site. This ensures the developer is honest and also gives you an idea of where your money is going. Finally, ensure that the developer is easy to reach and is responding to any questions or concerns regarding the project. A good way to monitor their efficiency is by timing how long it takes for them to respond to your inquiries.

4.5. Finalizing the Project and Ongoing Support

There is something to be said for communication in mentioning the possibility of future work before the project has ended. Sometimes developers will do additional work at a reduced rate if it means longer-term consistent work for a client. For the client, this could entail very beneficial deals for improving the site in the long run. If the client is pleased with the work upon completion, they should try and persuade the developer to provide future services, and possibly to always have a professional web developer at their disposal.

WordPress websites are inherently flexible, with the capability of being able to add custom features and reconfigure old ones, supporting a near infinite level of tangible functionality. Because of this, often times developers are contracted for follow-up work after the initial build is complete, or sometimes the developer is interested in doing follow-up work in conjunction with the completion of the project.

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