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1. Technical Skills

You will find experts of all shapes and sizes and widely differing ranges of skills and skill sets. Based on your project, you may discover that hiring someone with any of these skills is more than competent to meet your needs. Regardless, there are some key skills that will likely increase the quality of work by any expert you might hire. When it comes to technical skills, there are three main areas in which a professional should be proficient. First and foremost is their ability to perform actual WordPress development. This is the easiest to determine by looking at their experience with the platform. If you are looking to hire someone to perform a complex or challenging task, it will be important to look for someone who has done similar work in the past. Moving forward, a good understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are a vital set of skills for any web developer. It is important to note that many developers who are proficient in these languages will be inclined to perform tasks directly within WordPress which can be done more efficiently using native WordPress functions. This can often make a project more costly than it needs to be. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing as the end result may be a more effective solution. Consequently, it may also be useful to seek developers with a more diminished understanding of these languages so they are less likely to wander outside the scope of their task. The last of the technical skills we will highlight is a good understanding of plugin and theme development. This can be particularly important if you need custom functionality added to your site, plugin development is a very cost-effective way of implementing complex features to a website. A good developer will risk implementing something himself if it can be done quicker by an existing plugin, but this is also another indication of something which would be more efficient for the site owner in the long run. A developer with no skills in the above areas is not necessarily a bad choice for simple site maintenance or content management. However, for any kind of development work, the above skills are a very good indication that the professional you are hiring is able to work efficiently and provide effective solutions to the tasks at hand.

1.1. Proficiency in WordPress development

Excellent WordPress development skills are what you should expect from a premium WordPress developer. Not only does the developer need to know how to develop a design template for WordPress, but they must also be able to build custom plugins and software. They should be experienced in using the WordPress API to create integrations between your website and other websites using SOAP or XML-RPC. Don’t be surprised to ask if they have experience in developing WordPress-based applications. Not every WordPress developer will be familiar with this type of work. The first step in determining if your WordPress developer is right for the job is determining how much they understand the core software program. You don’t want to hire someone to make a website for a golf site and then find out they don’t know much about the game.

1.2. Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

When WordPress was first launched, it was primarily used for blogging. Soon, people realized that the CMS worked just as well for static sites and, with the use of a few plugins, could be made to do just about anything. But with the exponential increase in the user base and the ever-changing codex, it is very important that any developer you hire is up to date on how WordPress should be used. Most importantly, that they know when to use built-in functions to save time and keep things running quickly. A WordPress professional should have a solid understanding of PHP as this is the backbone of WordPress. The days of just modifying themes are dwindling with the increase of theme frameworks and custom post types. Knowledge of PHP is not only going to be necessary when creating your own plugin, but also in customizing other plugins or modifying themes to work the way they should. Last but not least, a good developer needs to have a strong understanding of MySQL. Unlimited Potential: Many people don’t realize the potential of WordPress as it is still often thought to be just a blogging platform. Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is necessary being that they are essential in web design and development. All the themes and templates a developer will modify are done with these technologies. Since WordPress is driven by PHP and MySQL, any PHP developer would be inclined to learn it as it does not require coding on the “back end.” But it is a very good thing for developers to know because they can take advantage of all the templates that WordPress has to offer to build a fully customizable page for the administrator and provide quick and easy solutions to complex problems.

1.3. Experience with plugin and theme development

When troubleshooting WordPress themes and plugins throughout the night and into the early morning hours becomes a hobby, you know you’re dedicated to your craft. Experienced WordPress developers, those who know the ins and outs of theme and plugin development before breaking ground on client projects, are the kinds of people you want to hire. This goes double for the WordPress consultant, who likely has done so for multiple industries and is able to provide case studies and best practices. A track record of always giving back to the WordPress open-source community is also something to consider. This shows a dedication to the platform and usually equates to someone who is on top of current best practices. Plugin development and maintenance of a high-profile plugin can also make a professional standout in the sea of resumes. Experience with plugin and theme development in general can be evaluated by the following: Has this person ever done it professionally? Do they have any personal projects they can show off and discuss? If they have a public repository of work available this is usually a good sign. A seasoned developer will be able to show examples of their work and explain their development processes. This is a good time to ask about specific use cases and the problems that were solved. Always consider asking a candidate what his or her approach would be to developing a new plugin from start to finish and what types of different testing methods would be employed. He may just write everything out and that’s cool too, I’m really looking for someone that has thought through this kind of process beforehand.

2. Problem-Solving Abilities

An effective problem solver will show creativity in the solution. Many of the problems that occur with WordPress are not straightforward and easy to identify. In some cases, the problem may be a symptom of another problem. In this case, the WordPress professional must be capable of thinking beyond the issue at hand and to identify the root cause of the problem. An example of this could be a client’s website suddenly becoming unavailable. This issue could occur for many reasons. It could be due to a recent update that the client made changing the theme or uploading a plugin. There also could have been malicious activity from a hacker. It could also be a problem with the web host. An effective problem solver will consider all the possibilities and then start with the most likely scenario and work through systematically testing each possibility.

When hiring a WordPress professional, it’s important to pose typical problems that can occur on WordPress to see if the candidate can effectively troubleshoot and solve them. This could involve asking the candidate hypothetical questions or may even involve asking the candidate to take a small troubleshooting test. A WordPress professional should possess logical, methodical problem-solving skills matched with some persistence. A good indication of this can be found by examining whether the candidate is methodical with the approach, asking lots of questions to gather information, and ruling out possible causes one by one. The ideal candidate will methodically work through the issue until they find a solution. This approach can often be superior to someone who takes wild guesses at what the problem might be and the solution.

Strong problem-solving skills are an essential trait to look for when hiring a WordPress professional. Because WordPress is an open platform with a large degree of flexibility, it’s very common to run into problems that need to be troubleshot to be solved. Problems can also occur when WordPress users update the software, change themes, or upload plugins. A WordPress developer must possess a special set of problem-solving skills to be able to identify the cause of the issue and find a solution.

2.1. Ability to troubleshoot and debug WordPress issues

The first trait you should look for is his ability to solve problems on his own. This can be the case with anything surrounding the realm of web development and WP. Make sure he is confident in his ability to solve problems and can effectively communicate the issue and solution. An individual taking the time to understand the nature of the issue and solving it in a timely manner is far more valuable than someone who is quick to suggest a plugin to fix the issue or suggest a complete re-installation of WP. This goes hand-in-hand with the individual’s experience and knowledge of WP. Someone with a high expertise level in WP may be able to solve an issue in a fraction of the time it would take a beginner.

One of the most frequent tasks when dealing with a WordPress site, or any website for that matter, is to troubleshoot an issue. If your WordPress website is a business, or even a hobby, then you want that site to be up and running quickly and without interruptions. Making money, or getting your message out there as soon as possible, is the motivation behind having the website in the first place. With mandatory hourly tactics and in-depth problem solving, paid WordPress Support & Maintenance service gives individuals the time to focus on their business and entrepreneurial goals while leaving site management to the WordPress experts.

2.2. Creative problem-solving skills

Creative problem-solving requires critical thinking and the ability to consider different approaches to a problem. Professionals with creative problem-solving skills can propose new and innovative solutions to problems, exhibit a depth of technical knowledge, and complete complex tasks. This type of problem-solver has the ability to think abstractly, see the big picture, identify unconventional solutions, and think through complex and abstract problems to come up with solutions. During the interview, come right out and present a specific problem scenario and ask your potential employee how they would solve it. Case-study questions or simply asking them to walk you through a past issue they successfully resolved can work well. Avoid yes or no questions and ask the interviewee to provide detailed answers.

2.3. Familiarity with common WordPress challenges

New features are the future support – Many of your developer’s challenges will come with editing or updating old features, but it is important that future support remains in their minds. There is no point making changes that will break the site next time WordPress or your plugins receive an update. A good WordPress developer will always be aware of the implications of their changes, and having to revert previous changes is a common challenge with WordPress sites.

Familiarity with the core – Some WordPress developers may have experience with WordPress but don’t fully understand how it works. They can make changes or build new elements without understanding their effect on the whole site. This can cause problems later, and it can make obvious errors hard to fix. If the interviewee mentions using FTP to make changes to WordPress files, that’s a sign that they are at least trying to understand what is happening behind the scenes. (Situations exist where FTP is the only way to do something, but it is not a good tool for general WordPress editing).

Familiarity with common WordPress challenges – As a very successful platform, WordPress’s greatest strength is its number of plugins, and its greatest weakness is keeping those plugins compatible. A good WordPress developer will understand the software’s strengths and weaknesses and avoid overusing high-risk plugins.

3. Communication and Collaboration

There is a considerable amount of WordPress work that is completed by individuals working in a team environment. A developer working on your site may have to coordinate with a graphic artist, business analyst, content writer, or fellow developer. Ideally, any web developer should possess good team working abilities. An understanding of basic team concepts such as SWOT analysis or group brainstorming can be indicative of a good team player. Furthermore, a developer may be called upon to assume a leadership role on a given project which requires strong team working skills.

Good communication skills are paramount for any job, and tech industry positions are no exception. If anything, they are doubly important. Your web developer should be able to articulate your technical requirements. They should feel confident in their understanding of your needs. This confidence will be reflected back in their work. A professional developer will be able to set expectations and ask questions when those expectations are not fulfilled. They should also be open to criticism and willing to make changes. All of these skills are rooted in strong communication abilities. An individual with technical skills that is defeated by giving or receiving instruction will not likely be able to fulfill your requirements adequately.

3.1. Strong verbal and written communication skills

Strong verbal and written communication skills are key when trying to find a quality professional both online and offline. Without proper communication, understanding the wants and needs of a client can be difficult. It is important to look for a professional that can not only understand you and your needs, but express their thoughts and ideas in a way that you can understand. A great way to determine a person’s communication skills are by the way they portray themselves via email and how they speak to you on the phone. If a professional is unclear when speaking with you or sends you sloppy emails, it might be a good idea to keep looking. An interview is a good way to further determine a professional’s communication skills, but keep in mind one’s nervousness can cause them to underperform.

There are many traits that employers look for when hiring a WordPress professional online. Knowing the right traits can not only save you time, but also get you a quality professional. Here is our top-10 list of what you should look for when hiring.

3.2. Ability to work well in a team

It is impossible to spot how well candidates can do this without putting them in a team situation, but looking for someone who has sports or hobby experience in teams, especially where they’ve taken a captain role, can give a good indication of their team abilities. Ask the candidate how they felt about it and why they left. It is important to make sure they left for the right reasons and not because of a clash of ideas causing tension, as this can happen in project teams. Always make sure you ask for specific examples of where they’ve worked in a team and look at their body language to see if they’re telling the truth (more on this in a future article!).

Team working is a great benefit for any company, so a good WordPress developer should be able to work in a team. They need to be able to take the lead and be led; this is taking instructions or giving them. They should also be able to work with a diverse group of people, from copywriters to designers and marketers, to find solutions and get the job done. Putting it simply, just because you’re a lone ranger, it doesn’t mean you can avoid dealing with those temperamental graphic designers!

3.3. Active listening and understanding client requirements

This is perhaps one of the most important aspects. The ability to listen to a client and understand their needs is paramount. If a WordPress professional does not understand what a client requires, this is likely to result in an unsatisfactory end product. A skilled WordPress professional will use active listening to rather than simply “hear” what the client is saying and then reflect upon it to gain a clear understanding. This means that an effective WordPress professional will prompt the client for more detail where necessary rather than making assumptions about what a client means by the information provided. This trait ultimately comes down to empathy and a realistic understanding of what is and what is not possible with any given level of resources. At times clients may request a function which is not feasible for the time or money available. In such a case the professional should address this tactfully and provide an alternative solution which remains satisfactory to the client.

3.4. Effective project management and time management skills

Clients are always conscious of how much time a developer is spending on their website. Perhaps the best thing about hiring a freelance web developer is that you could possibly get a freelance web developer. No chance of him getting caught in traffic, no traffic = no late starts on the project. A freelance web developer is usually working from home so that should be good enough reason (get the dressing gown on!) to make sure there are no distractions that lower the work rate. Establish a project schedule for your developer to adhere to. Aim to set a specific timeframe for the project from start to finish. Have the developer conduct regular updates on the status of the project. This might be with daily/weekly reports, or even by utilizing project management and time tracking software. If the developer has a blog or website, suggest that he use it as a form of progress report. Ask the developer to break the project into several smaller tasks. This makes the project more organized and allows for you to clearly see what is involved with the site. If this is a particularly large project, it may be a good idea to set milestones throughout the project. This can include completing a specific component of the site or reaching a certain date. A freelance web developer with project management experience should be able to articulate a great development plan and adhere to it.

4. Professionalism and Work Ethic

Adaptability and willingness to learn new technologies is also very important. In the computer and internet field, technologies are rapidly changing and improving. The candidate must be prepared to learn and adapt while utilizing the best possible method to create the desired result. This can also tie in with quality assurance. If a newer technology provides a better solution, the candidate must not be afraid to redo their work in order to provide an improved or more efficient solution to the client.

Ability to meet deadlines and deliver projects on time is also another essential trait. The candidate must be able to manage their time and work efficiently to deliver the client the best possible result before the due date. The client will not be satisfied if a project is delivered late, no matter how good the result is. An efficient worker is an asset to any team and motivation to see it through that a project is completed on time is a sign of strong work ethic.

The first must be strong attention to detail and quality assurance. The candidate must have a deep understanding of the computer and internet. A small mistake at the HTML or PHP level can affect the client’s website in ways they may not see until it’s too late and damage has been done. Hiring a person from a technical support background, if necessary for this, can be beneficial because they are used to dealing with a wide range of issues and are driven to solve problems. Another aspect is through the use of language. They must have a good understanding of what the client wants and be able to communicate with the client to achieve this, whether it be through creating a plugin or editing the site in various ways.

When hiring a WordPress professional, there are many traits that need to be considered. One of the very important traits is a high level of professionalism and work ethic. This comes in many forms.

4.1. Attention to detail and quality assurance

Attention to detail and quality assurance top the list as the first and most important traits when it comes to hiring a professional. The first thing an employer will look for is examples of past work, as a strong history of quality work is indicative of the kind of results they will get. With WordPress development, the most accurate way to gauge their attention to detail is to see their code. Unfortunately, the average person looking to hire a developer is not well equipped to judge the quality of said code. If this is the case, it might be worth asking a developer friend or someone else involved in the field to help interview the candidate. In the event that this is not possible, the quickest way to check a developer’s attention to detail is simply comparing their WordPress theme or plugin to others in the field. Large functional differences or errors on a final product are likely indicative of similar mistakes made during the development process. Finally, one should certainly never hire a developer who does not take the time to test their work. A WordPress professional’s attention to detail can often be gauged during initial conversations. If they are asking very specific questions about your project and taking notes on any special requirements, it is a good sign that they will deliver a product tailored to your needs.

4.2. Ability to meet deadlines and deliver projects on time

Deadlines are not always guaranteed to be met due to unexpected circumstances, so it is also essential to keep the client informed if a project is going to be delayed. Effective communication to renegotiate a deadline is vital in such circumstances so the client is disappointed as little as possible. If the outcome is that the deadline cannot be met, providing the client with something to show for the work done so far is better than nothing. Completing at least some of the work reinforces the client’s faith in the professional and will keep them coming back (Baguley, 2012). For example, if a plugin project cannot be completed on time, featuring a brief of what the plugin was to do and some screenshots of the work done so far is still better than no work at all.

The ability to meet deadlines and deliver projects on time is crucial for any WordPress professional. If a professional cannot deliver a project on time, it reflects poorly on their reputation and could result in loss of clients. Thus, it is a trait that is highly valued. It is essential for a WordPress professional to set achievable deadlines. This can be attained by firstly ensuring they do not agree to unrealistic deadlines forced upon them by over-ambitious clients. Instead, they should determine roughly how long a project will take and then add extra time in case of unexpected problems (Murage, 2012).

4.3. Adaptability and willingness to learn new technologies

The second part of this involves willingness to approach a project using a certain technology that you’ve not used in the past, with confidence that you will be able to learn what you need to, in order to deliver what the client wants. An offshoot of this is the ability to think on your feet. The technology industry is filled with situations where x is not possible using y as was first thought and an alternative solution needs to be formulated. This requires adaptability with a strong foundation of thinking and learning.

This is a simple banner for this trait, which largely speaks for itself. In a rapidly changing environment, willingness to pick up new technologies comes hand in hand with your ability to deliver projects on time. The technology used in website design changes very rapidly as new languages and technologies are developed which improve the way websites look, act and are indexed by search engines. In general, people don’t want to be paying for a website using old technology. This being the case, clients who are sold on the idea of using a particular technology to fulfill a need on their website are often disappointed when this is not met. For example, a small business owner wanting to increase search engine rankings, who has been sold on the idea of utilizing a certain piece of AJAX functionality which is not provided when the site is eventually developed using WordPress. A developer who keeps abreast of current technology would be able to advise in good time that this required functionality is best implemented using a different platform.

4.4. Strong work ethic and commitment to client satisfaction

A tell-tale sign of working with WordPress professionals who are dedicated to their craft and ensuring satisfaction is their work ethic. This is a difficult quality to judge, but an effective way is to investigate the length of their service with past clients. Generally, WordPress professionals with a strong work ethic maintain long-term relationships with clients and additional work is often for past clients or referrals of past clients. Easily one of the most important times of a WordPress project is the early development stages (demonstrations) because that is often when change is easiest. The next most important is the completion of the project, and at this point, it is always extremely frustrating when you realize the developer who has been with you for 6 weeks on and off won’t do an additional 5 hours of work to complete the project. All too often, people have told tales of developers who have gone MIA, and the only way to recover is either complete abandonment of the project or rehire of another developer. Both of these are less than ideal solutions. Always ensuring developers have a strong work ethic can potentially save you a lot of time and frustration in the future. When assessing commitment to client satisfaction, it often reflects how they achieve satisfaction within their professional career. A developer who seeks to build a reputation or is in a full-time job will often want to build a project they are proud of, and this can often lead to a higher quality result. Building reputation is important to consultants, developers, and contractors because it can often mean more prospective clients and higher rates of pay. High-quality work generally results in satisfaction, assuming requirements are met, and a client who feels they have received more than their money’s worth. Always ensure that this is the case and that work is not rushed just to get the money and that satisfaction is guaranteed. Satisfaction guarantees are becoming more and more popular with WordPress projects and are a good way for developers to win some bids.

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