If you need to hire a WordPress developer, how to you sort the wheat from the chaff? After all, it isn’t your speciality. Half the battle is knowing what questions to ask and which attributes to look out for when choosing. Here’s some sensible advice.

Do you need a WordPress development specialist?

Before we start, there’s something vital to settle. Do you need a WP developer, or would someone with a slightly different skill set be better for the job? There are several different specialisms.

What is a WordPress Designer?

A WP designer is fluent in the creative side of web design, using software like Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator as well as the WordPress platform itself. Good WordPress designers also often have a good grasp of HTML and CSS, both of which are necessary for a comprehensive overall understanding of how digital content works. If you’re working with a ready-made theme, your designer can change the design elements and customise it for you.

All this means a WP designer is perfect for creating the overall look and feel of your website: the architecture, layout, colours, fonts, design elements and so on. Once they’ve completed the design and you’ve signed it off; they’ll hand the Photoshop files over to a developer for the coding side of things.

What is a WordPress Developer?

A WordPress developer is a modern beast, someone in high demand these days since so many people swear by the platform, we included. An experienced developer will have an in-depth expertise of WordPress’ core including themes and plugins. If a developer has PHP, HTML, CSS, JAVA, JQUERY and MYSQL under their belt, you’ve found a goodie.

Your developer will take the designer’s Photoshop files and replicate them in code. They mostly make a visual representation of a website and turn it into something fully functional and suitably interactive.

The developer-designer hybrid

There’s a lot of crossover in the two skill sets above, and it’s quite common to find people who do both, especially on smaller website builds. Many small business owners wanting a custom website or customised template end up working with a talented designer-developer. And many such designer-developers bring in extra expertise for areas beyond their remit, something that can work very well.

The WordPress site builder

WP’s lively premium theme market has created a niche professional, sometimes called a WordPress builder and other times a WordPress architect. They usually work with themes from a particular theme company, someone like ThemeFusion, and while they’re not quite a fully fledged developer or designer, they can be a hugely valuable asset.

Someone like this will have a suite of core design skills at their disposal including HTML, CSS and PHP. As a small business wanting to develop an existing theme, this kind of support can be spot on, with extensive knowledge of the skills needed. They know when a developer needs to stand in, find out when a designer is necessary and often have a good grounding in digital marketing essentials like SEO, conversion optimisation, email marketing and social media marketing.

What about personal attributes?

You might find someone with all the right skills. But there’s more to successful WP development than skills alone. It’s personal. Here are some of the most important traits to look for in a WordPress developer.

  • Find someone with the same work ethic and outlook as you, who has the same priorities as regards working together effectively
  • Good communication skills are essential for any complex project with multiple stakeholders and business-led deadlines
  • Personality matters. It doesn’t matter how brilliant someone is if they’re temperamental, rude, downright weird, or you just don’t get on, things can soon go pear shaped hideously
  • Flexibility matters, too. You need someone who thrives on change, not someone who’ll freak if you change your plans in the smallest way
  • An extensive portfolio is one way to tell the sheep from the lambs. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a developer to have experience in eCommerce and every other aspect of online business. If not, why not?
  • The same goes for designers. They might have a lot of lovely print projects to show you, but they need to demonstrate their digital capabilities
  • Excellent references are relevant. If the people on your developer shortlist can’t or won’t provide them, you should ask yourself why
  • Do they have the right skill set? The lists earlier on in this post will help you decide
  • What people ask you is critical. If they come out with the stuff you expect, questions about contractual terms, milestones, deadlines, time to completion and ongoing support, it’s a good sign they know the ropes. If not, beware. And if they seem over-keen to pin down a deposit before they bother asking you questions, that can be another warning sign

Save yourself the bother

Having said all that, you could circumvent all that hassle and come straight to us. We’ll make 100% sure you get the exact kind of expertise you need at every stage of the job, and we trust everyone we work with, whether it’s our website designers, WordPress development team or any other kind of super-geek your site design or site development project might require. Just give us a call.