Is it time to beef up your WordPress website with some advanced features and functionality? Or, are you more in the mood to develop a brand new website based on WordPress, but with a custom tailored design? This is when most people would hire a WordPress developer, but that might not be the best choice. The difference can be like hiring an architect to remodel your house, when what you really need is a contractor. Let’s take a look at the different types of people who work on WordPress sites, and you can decide which one best fits your needs. (Hint: the answer is easier than you might think it is.)
Which should I hire? Hire a WordPress Designer?
This might seem like a difficult decision, but you’ll soon see that it’s typically a relatively straightforward decision. The tricky part, which we’ll cover in the last half of this post, will be finding a good candidate to bring on board for your project.
This is, in essence, a WordPress architect. The WordPress developer has built or helped build many WP websites. He or she suggests and comes up with ideas, helps to implement and set up solutions, and works to integrate and modify existing sites.
Developers seldom take on custom programming jobs, so if you run a hair salon and want to add a booking functionality to your existing site, the WordPress developer will look for a premium booking plugin to install into your site. They’ll configure it for you, get it up and running, but they won’t program it from scratch.
That’s not to say they’ll never do any coding; sometimes, they do perform coding and design work. Other times, they let someone else do it for them, if they can’t find a plugin or template that fits the needs of the client. A good WordPress developer should know when it’s time to outsource the work.
Think of your WordPress developer as an architect, looking at the big picture and how to best meet any given goals. That might mean custom programming, or it might mean using ready-made premium plugins and code. The best WP developers know which is the right course of action.
A general programmer with some experience with WordPress: that’s a WP programmer, in a nutshell. If a developer is an architect, the WordPress programmer is like a brick-layer. If you’re really advanced in WP yourself, you might work directly with a programmer to instruct him or her on what lines of code to write, but you’ll usually encounter this type of person by way of your WordPress developer.
In fact, it’s usually smarter to hire a developer first, and then let the developer decide whether or not a programmer needs to come on board. In quite a few projects, it will actually be better and less expensive to make use of existing plugins and themes, rather than reinventing the wheel.
A designer with some knowledge of turning a concept into an actual WordPress theme that you can install, a WordPress designer is a good fit if you just want to refresh the user experience of your website without changing the functionality. Bottom line, most hire a WordPress designer for tasks they aren’t capable of completing so be careful.
So, now you should know that you really need to hire a WP developer for most jobs, and let him or her decide who else to bring into the mix. The next question is how to find a good one. There are plenty of ways to vet developers by quality, price, and availability, but this myriad of choices makes it hard to know where to get started.
There are hundreds of different freelance sites on the Internet, most of which have piles upon piles of “WordPress developers.” The problem is one of filtering out the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad. Quite frankly, the overwhelming number of choices usually ends up being a hassle instead of a benefit. If you absolutely must use a freelancer marketplace, avoid the generalized ones like Elance, Freelancer, and Guru. Instead, look at WordPress-specialized freelancer markets.
If you have a friend who has hired out a lot of WordPress work, ask them for recommendations. If not, browse around the web and find sites you like, then use the code footers to find out who developed the website for them. If it’s not a competitor’s site, you might even contact them directly and ask them who did their WordPress development for them.
You can also look into web design agencies that specialize in WordPress. This is more expensive, but it’s the most straightforward path to take. Just make sure you look closely at their portfolios, and choose an agency that will do the best job for you.
Hopefully, this article has helped you determine that A) You really need to hire a WordPress developer (or just a designer, if all you need is a cosmetic refresh), and B) Freelance job sites and recommendations aren’t very effective at finding a great WP developer.
This article originally appeared on Anabolic Technology and has been republished with permission.
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Richie Contartesi is the owner of www.AnabolicTechnology.com and 3 online startups. He is an online enthusiast with experience consulting business owners and other entrepreneurs on building a revenue generating online presence for businesses yielding a maximum return on time and investment.… View full profile ›
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I think there is some confusion about job descriptions and job functions in this post. A web developer and a programmer are the same thing. They execute the visual and functional requirements set forth by the web designer. As a web designer, it is my job to work directly with the client to create a concept that is based on the business and communications goals of the company.
We may consult with our developer/programmer initially about functionality requirements to ensure those factors are accounted for as we move through the process. And, developers do custom code all the time. All our sites are custom designed and coded regardless of the content management system being used.
Here’s how the process goes:
First, we provide the architecture diagram to depict the navigation structure of the site. Next, wireframes are provided to indicate where content will go on the pages. Then mockups of the visual concept are created to show image style, typographic treatment, color usage, and so forth. Once the concept is approved we create mockups of additional pages to flesh-out the design elements throughout the site. Only after those are approved does the site go to the developer/programmer to be coded.
And designers are certainly not repair people or refurbishers. As a designer, I know something about code, but we consider that a specialized field best left to the experts The developer/programmer is akin to a printing press — it’s the means of getting the marketing materials to the audience.
A Nielsen Norman Group Study found that you have only a few seconds to make an impression on your web visitors. By and large it’s the designers who have been trained to make sure it’s a good one.
I think these terms are generally used much more loosely. In any case, you should define what you need for the specific job you’re hiring for and see who meets those requirements best. A good way to screen applicants is to use a coding test, such as the ones on testdome.com
It’s a useful way to filter our candidates that aren’t quite suited to the job. After that you can interview them and review their previous work and so on.
Thanks for adding to the conversation!
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