5 things you need to know before hiring someone to build you a website in WordPress
Here at City Ranked Media we primarily work in WordPress and all of our new client websites are built using WordPress, so you might say we’re big fans of the website platform. However in the years we’ve been using WordPress, we’ve seen some pretty big messes with some websites that people have brought us to fix. Pretty big messes that took a lot of time and money to fix, so that being said we thought that we’d write an article on questions to ask, and things to know before deciding to hire someone to build you a website in WordPress.
These are all things we’ve run into with real websites, so save yourself time and money and get these questions answered up-front.
Hand Coded Theme or Template Theme?
First you need to really ask yourself if your situation is so unique that it needs a hand coded theme. WordPress developers that hand code their own themes can be great at what they do, but as a small business owner you need to understand the drawbacks of a theme specifically designed for you. First question you need to ask the developer is who will make sure the theme is up-to-date with future WordPress versions? WordPress is consistently updating their platform with new versions, these versions are sometimes to address security related issues, and other changes have to do with updates to usability and interface. Whatever the reason for the update, someone will need to ensure that your custom coded theme is going to be compatible, and there is sure to be costs involved with any WordPress core updates that require re-coding of portions of your website. Templates on the other hand (when chosen wisely) typically come with free updates when these changes come out. Templates also cost a ton less than hand coded versions, and typically run between $40 and $99 one time fee. Getting the look you desire can in most cases be accomplished through css changes and tweaks.
Hand coded themes are great, if your situation warrants it, just make sure you budget for future updates if you decide to go down this path.
How do you choose your plugins?
This is a great question to ask your WordPress developer/designer. There’s over 33,000 different plugins available on the WordPress plugin directory and thousands more available on the internet, so choices made on what plugins are used and for what purposes need to known as they, just like WordPress themes need to be updated.
First off, the folks at WordPress do a great job at screening plugins available on the WordPress directory, it is not advisable to choose plugins that have not been screened by them. If the plugin isn’t on the WordPress directory, steer clear of it. Second, choose plugins from reputable plugin developers. This is important because they’re the ones that typically keep their plugins up-to-date with the latest in security and WordPress versions. Hackers are constantly trying different ways to break websites, so if a plugin author isn’t keeping their plugins up-to-date your website will be at risk.
WordPress security is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
As the worlds largest website publishing platform, WordPress is an easy target for hackers because of the sheer numbers of websites on this platform. That’s not to say anyone should steer away from using WordPress because some hackers target the platform, after all you wouldn’t throw away your Visa debit card because it’s the most stolen credit card, right? No you would like most people protect you card’s security by making sure to take steps so that your credit cards numbers and other information was protected. The same goes for your website.
If you’re not protecting your website from hackers by making good decisions on its development and security updates, you’re leaving yourself open for security issues down the road.
Your website insurance plan, planning for the unforeseen.
Anyone that offers to develop a WordPress site for you should also help protect you from the unforeseen. Having a regular schedule of database backups built into the website should be on every developers checklist. With WordPress these backups can be automated, so there is generally no need for charges associated with performing this task. Having regular database backups will protect your investment if the worst happens.
Changes to the WordPress core.
We’ve seen some examples of websites built with changes to the WordPress core. This should NEVER be done, and anyone that says they know how to make WordPress better by changing the core, I really question their expertise. We’ve accepted a few clients that were in this same position and when they decided to leave their former web developer or agency they were flat out told not to do any updates on the WordPress core or plugins because it could break the website. This is a classic sign the core was changed. If you need more reasons why this is a very bad idea, read this article 3 reasons why hacking your WordPress core is a very bad idea.
Above are just a few examples of questions to ask before hiring someone to build you a website in WordPress. It is by no means all inclusive, but answers to the above should help you avoid big pitfalls when making your decision.
Know some additional pitfalls or questions business owners should ask? Let us know below!