A lot of us are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to WordPress and even if we are only slightly technical WP makes is pretty easy. However, WordPress can, and often is, used for sites which are much more complex than the average blog and many individuals or small-to-medium businesses don’t have the time or the in-house expertise to make it work the way they want. Many more don’t even know that WordPress is an option for them, so whether you are already set on using WordPress for your site, looking for someone to enhance an existing WordPress instance, considering WordPress among other options or just looking for a CMS that won’t blow the budget out of the water but is flexible enough to meet your needs, hiring a WordPress expert can be a good way to go. But before you hire someone there are a few things you should consider to help you get the most out of the money you are going to spend. This is by no means comprehensive but should give you a good start.
Finding a good WP Consultant:Their are many of them out there so consider your needs and find one that matches. Are you comfortable with a freelance consultant or do you prefer an company? Good Places to look are the list of WordPress consultants on the Automattic website or the WordPress Pro Mailing list.
Cost:This topic can be a bit sticky because prices can be all over the place depending on the services you need. When you are comparing consultants/companies some things to consider are:
- Do they have a track record
- Established processes
- Do they provide references if asked
- Do they ask you a lot of questions and go through a requirements gathering phase?
- Do they provide you an education and training?
- Are they accessible and do they have a service level agreement to support that (24 hour response time for example)?
- Do they utilize contracts or statements of work outlining payment requirements, deliverable, requirements,etc….
If any of those things are missing you might be opening yourself up for a more difficult project than necessary. The more professional they are the better off you will be. Keep in mind that cheaper is not always better and price will likely rise with professionalism. But it’s all WordPress work right? Yes, but even if the base application doesn’t change (WordPress) how someone implements it for you can vary there is more to a project than installing applications and plugins. If price is your only consideration or professionalism is ignored, then you might end up not getting what you expect, need or want and could easily end up doing it over and paying again.
Budget: Do you have an established budget? It’s important to have some idea of what you can afford. There is no formula for knowing exactly what it should cost so establishing a budget can be tough. Figure out what you can afford then do your due diligence, research a number of candidates and get quotes. When figuring out what you can afford try to be realistic, you are looking to hire a professional that makes a living doing this. Getting a full website, design, logo, SEO and whatever custom configuration you need is going to cost. If your budget is a few hundred dollars, don’t expect much. Many elements of building a professional site can be time consuming and take considerable thought and expertise and that is what you are paying for. Hiring the wrong person can cost you more in the long run. If you really need help and your budget really can’t get you far prioritize and get ready to learn to do as much as you can for yourself and pay for help where you need it most.
Setting Expectations: Be very clear about what you want and need. Before you even talk to someone spend time planning and outlining your requirements. Consultants aren’t mind readers but should be able to guide you as long as you have some idea(s). Break it down into must-haves and nice-to-haves which will give you some flexibility in budgeting and negotiating. Also, if you want a certain look and feel, find examples that are close to what you need, it will save a lot of back-and-forth. Most importantly, keep in mind that YOU still have some learning to do if you don’t already know the back end of WordPress. Knowing how to operate the site after your consultant is gone is up to you, but they should provide you with training if you need it.
Different skill sets/Different Services: Designers aren’t necessarily architects who aren’t necessarily developers… there are some that can do it all but they represent premium talent so be prepared. That said, you might need to break it down and hire different people for the different roles.
How to avoid becoming dependent on that consultant: Using WordPress means that you should be able to manage the content on your site yourself but you might still need help with design issues or other changes from time to time. Get as knowledgeable about WordPress as you can and have a couple of consultants you can call on if need be.
Of course there can be other considerations depending on what you need but this should get you started. WordPress experts can do amazing things for you but you need to know what you require to begin with. A little planning on your end will save you a lot of time and money. Do it right and you could build a great relationship with your consultant and they’ll always be there for you.