If you’re hoping to build a WordPress website, you’re in good company.
According to the latest numbers, 40% of all websites are now powered by WordPress. We think this popularity is because WordPress is a wonderful, free, open-source program with a very user-friendly back-end that’s easy even for the non tech-savvy.
Because WordPress is so popular, users can also take advantage of many services and tools that have sprung up to serve WordPress users. These days, you’ll have plenty of WordPress-specific freelancers and firms to choose from if you want help creating the perfect website for your new project.
Your choice of web designer/developer is an important one. It will have serious repercussions on how your website actually turns out, and how much cash and energy you spend on the project.
This is why it’s crucial to do good research upfront, and to vet all potential developers for your project. Here are six questions we suggest asking a potential WordPress developer as you embark on a new website design project.
Have you worked for people with similar needs?
A website designer doesn’t necessarily have to completely specialize in one niche to be a good fit for your website needs. However, as we mentioned, WordPress web design has become so popular that it’s not often difficult to find a designer who has some experience in your industry.
You should be able to get a good sense of what other sites a developer has worked on by scrolling through the portfolio section of their own website.
Even if they haven’t worked for an organization in the same industry as yours, you may find examples of their work on the same type of sites as the one you want to build (for example, an e-commerce site, a blog, a portfolio site, a directory, or a site that’s focused on video or audio).
If you like the aesthetics of a designer’s work but haven’t found an example of a site like yours listed in their portfolio, you can ask them directly if they’ve ever designed a website like the one you want to make. Ask if they can show you examples. After all, most designers can’t include their entire body of work on their site, and they may not have updated it with their most recent work yet.
Some designers may also be willing to refer you to clients they’ve worked for in the past if you want to ask them questions directly.
What does your schedule and process look like?
Experienced designers should have a very clear sense of how long a site like the one you want will take, and they should be able to give you a general idea of the structure that the project will follow.
Major milestones in a web design project may include an intake interview meeting, a presentation of initial designs, a feedback meeting, a presentation of design revisions, and a date for the site going live.
The best designers also allow a period for their clients to report problems or request minor changes that they notice as they use the site after it’s finished. (At Bet Hannon Websites, we ask clients to give us a “punch-list” of website issues after a 14-day period using the new site — and the cost of the changes is included in the cost.)
A good WordPress web developer should be able to tell you when they’re available to begin the project. Keep in mind that solo developers and freelancers may be booked up well in advance.
What does your payment structure look like?
Professional web designers don’t figure out their pricing on the fly.
Your potential WordPress web developer should be able to explain how much they expect from you upfront as a deposit and when other payments will be due. Beyond the deposit, most designers usually require a milestone payment halfway through the project, and then another one at the end of the project.
Who will handle updates, backups, maintenance, security issues, and other questions?
Your website won’t be a project that you build once and then consider permanently finished. Without regular maintenance and upkeep, any website will quickly become out-of-date and vulnerable to a host of security issues.
And it’s always a good idea to back-up your WordPress website before you make any necessary changes or updates — just in case.
If you don’t know how to do that kind of work yourself, you should certainly ask your WordPress developer if they’ll be available to help. If they can’t, they should be able to point you in the right direction of where to turn to get the help you need.
For reference, at Bet Hannon Websites, we offer managed hosting and maintenance plans for any clients who would like us to handle those issues.
How do you handle SEO?
In our opinion, a good WordPress web developer doesn’t have to consider themselves an SEO specialist to create a site that gets noticed by search engines. The most important thing is that they should understand the basic foundational truth that an easier-to-use site makes a more search-engine friendly site.
This means, for example, that the site needs to load quickly and minimize things like photo size and unnecessary plugins and widgets. It also means things like choosing the right structure for URLs and making sure that the navigation of the site is clear and easy to use.
Your potential web developer might mention these types of tactics in response to your question, but it’s also important to note that a lot of SEO work happens on the client’s end as they continue to update their site content over time. Every website owner should know how to properly use things like canonical tags and alt tags.
Your potential developer should be available to help you learn those best practices if you’re not familiar with them yet.
How do you handle accessibility?
Making sure that your site can be used by everyone who wants to use it, regardless of their potential physical or psychological limitations, is important for several reasons.
For one thing, it’s the right thing to do. But accessibility also expands your audience and makes your website easier for everyone to use, as we wrote in our post 5 Bonus Perks of Accessible Websites.
Accessibility is becoming more important as various jurisdictions begin to enforce the accessibility requirements referenced in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Thankfully, most of the major accessibility work required for a WordPress website isn’t super difficult. A lot of it overlaps with SEO best practices, such as using appropriate content tags and using a clear navigation menu.Many website accessibility issues overlap with SEO best practices. Click To Tweet
However, you still need to make sure that your developer is familiar with accessibility issues, so that they can, for example, choose a color scheme that’s sensitive to colorblind people’s needs and ensure that the entire site can be navigated via keyboard shortcuts (which is important for people with limited hand mobility).
Again, just like with SEO, a lot of accessibility work will need to be done as additional new content is added to the site.
That’s why at Bet Hannon Websites, we are available to train our clients on how exactly to keep their site accessible. Accessibility training is included in every one of our website project packages.
To learn more, please contact us.
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