So your company decides it needs a new website (or a refresh of the old one) and you begin your search on hiring WordPress developers. You google your way through and find a few promising WordPress developers around your locality. You then compare the packages on offer and select three of the cheapest. And then you call them to discuss the job scope and make your choice after a few phone calls and meetings.
The Introduction To Hiring WordPress Developers
The project goes on well and you get updates every now and then. And at the end of a few weeks, you have a beautiful new website that you and your company are proud of. Isn’t that all you need to know about hiring WordPress developers? Sadly not.
You see, while your WordPress developer or development house could deliver the website, it could be done better with best practices in mind. Also, your WordPress developer might not actually be a developer but actually an implementor (oh the horrors!). But I’ll get there as we get along (and hopefully the shock hasn’t affected your trust in proper developers)
Hiring WordPress Developers : Why The Secrets?
So why write about the secrets on hiring WordPress developers? It’s because with the age of internet and with many businesses seeking to go online, it is easy to end with a developer that doesn’t do a good job. Or worse, a non-developer who claims otherwise. Of course, there are some who know a few lines of code and claim they are a developer, which is what we will help you with in this article.
Personally, I was someone who previously did not know how to code, and have been on the wrong end of the stick. I’ve ended up with so-called WordPress developers that took a deposit from me and went missing. On a separate occasion, I hired a WordPress developer that did not follow proper WordPress practices but of course, I didn’t know it then.
1) Hiring WordPress Developers : Implementor or Developer?
The most common issue I’ve met is the fact that most so-called WordPress developers are actually implementors. That means they tweak a pre-built theme that they buy off the ThemeForest marketplace, drag and drop some landing page designs via the Visual Composer plugin and install a few other plugins for extra functionality. Then they deliver it to you.
Whether you just need a booking system, an e-commerce solution or just a simple company site, they build it with a pre-built theme, a page builder and some simple plugins. But what are the weaknesses of this arrangement?
a) It affects your site’s speed and ultimately your SEO
While having a pre-built WordPress theme off ThemeForest and page builder like Visual Composer ensures you are able to tweak the site later, it also means your site is slow. With the most popular ThemeForest WordPress theme sellers bundling in every customisation option available, your site will take longer to load.
Rather, a custom build theme off the WordPress Underscores theme or some similar framework (like StudioPress’ Genesis), ensures you get a blazingly fast site that complies to Google’s latest need. If you didn’t know, majority of theme providers do not come with schema.org integration that Genesis does. ArrayThemes, whom we’re using on this site bucks the trend though, as it’s well-built and sold on ThemeForest.
b) Not a developer’s mindset
Developers think differently compared to implementors. For us developers, we think about model view controller. We also break the problem down to smaller pieces and then craft out custom solutions if existing ones do not fulfil your needs. In short, while we may use existing premium plugins for functionality, we also build custom plugins if there’s nothing out there to fulfil your needs
c) Don’t really know code
While it’s easy to pick up PHP, it takes about 800 hours to be moderately good at the language1. An implementor could perhaps code some bits of PHP, but won’t be able to craft optimised custom solutions that are fast, secure and user-friendly.
2) Hiring WordPress Developers : Check Their Github Repository
While it is good to browse a WordPress Developer’s portfolio to find out the things they have built, a better idea would be to check out their Github repository (or repo for short). You see, while it’s easy to slap around some theme and plugins to create a custom site, proper WordPress development means your developer would have to update their repo often. Especially if they use certain plugins and find errors within these plugins during their work.
If your developer keeps insisting he/she does not have a repo, be very careful. That could either mean that they don’t develop much, or perhaps don’t understand version control, which is a danger to your project as well.
3) Hiring WordPress Developers : Separates Functions From Views
While it doesn’t take a genius to begin writing code, a proper developer will separate logic from views. In WordPress development terms, that means separating functions from the theme and unto its own plugin. Not only will it make your backend neater, it also helps in troubleshooting errors.
However, not all WordPress developers understand this concept and some still prefer to leave functions and methods in the WordPress theme files.
4) Hiring WordPress Developers : Sustainable Long Term?
While your developer might really be a full-fledged WordPress developer and not an implementor as mentioned above, you should really ask him how sustainable the code base is. You see, while your developer might be able to build custom plugins for the site, is the code base properly commented so that others could understand it if he isn’t around? Or would you have to pay again for another developer to rebuild everything from scratch?
If he’s still using a pre-built ThemeForest theme, does he build a child theme to make sure that changes aren’t lost? Even if he builds a child theme, what would he do if the theme is no longer updated by its original developer?
I’ve seen many expensively built sites that get compromised after a few years. Upon further inspection, I found that the original theme on ThemeForest had stopped issuing updates. And in many cases, due to a lack of retainer fee, the website gets compromised. This compromise not only affects your subscribers, but also affects your SEO and search engine ranking position results.
5) Hiring WordPress Developers : Builds using Laravel or similar frameworks
While it is good that your WordPress developer knows his way around WordPress, it isn’t too hard to develop in WordPress. Rather, it is important that your developer also builds using frameworks like Laravel and Rails, to improve his or her programming skills and be able to think out of the box for solutions.
With the rise of REST API in WordPress, a developer that is able to use frameworks like Laravel and Rails, are able to craft unique solutions that link to your site remotely.
The process of hiring WordPress developers is one fraught with difficulties if you aren’t tech savvy. Rather, let us help you build a custom site in either WordPress or frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and Laravel. Having being on the client side, we know your needs and will craft out the perfect solution that you need.
- https://codeclan.com/blog/coding-change-your-life/ ↩
Nowadays, I build and maintain turnkey and bespoke sites. I also write guides and review tools that makes your sites, better. Drop me a message via LinkedIn if you wanna chat more 🙂