With WordPress running 23.5% of all the websites, building a well-functioning WordPress site is still not everyone's cup of tea. Not only it requires one to have a good working knowledge of various programming languages such as HTML, JavaScript, PHP, CSS, and MySQL but also to be an expert in some other techniques like SEO, Responsive Design, Photoshop, etc.

When it comes to hiring a dedicated developer having adequate WordPress experience, the pool of professionals seems limitless. Therefore setting out certain criteria, which could help business owners narrow their options, becomes inevitable. This post will take you through “a set of 15 questions” that you must ask your potential WordPress developer. Considering these questions will surely help you make the right decision!

Let’s get started!

How long have you been working with WordPress?

Experience counts more than anything else! While you're interviewing a developer or agency, ask them “how many years of WordPress experience do they have?” As every one of us learns at different rates, you may get many different answers to this question. Therefore, depending on your project's requirement and budget, first, you need to decide the experience level you need. In my opinion, you should hire a developer/agency having at least 3 years of WordPress experience.

How much do you charge?

For WordPress theme development, charges vary from developer to developer due to a range of factors. Many developers charge more for quick turnaround time while others make you pay more for adding a complex functionality - like a forum - to your site. The best way to grab the best deal possible for your project is to make a list of your requirements and then compare the charges of different developers/agencies.

What do I need to provide?

In order to be responsibility-free and avoid any unnecessary delay in the development of your new website project, you as a business representative must provide all essential things to the contracted developer/agency in advance. That means if you want to ensure your project would go smoothly from beginning to end, not only do you need to read and agree with all terms and conditions but also ask them what files and information they require to start working on your project.

How will you build my site? Altering an existing theme? Building a custom theme from scratch?

Quite a technical question! But you should have a clear idea of “how will they be creating your website”. In WordPress, a dynamic website can be built in three ways:

If you are on a low budget and have less technical WordPress knowledge, then you should go for the first option that doesn’t require much reliance on a theme developer except support and updates. The second option requires relatively less design work and development time, but any updates in the future can break the theme’s design and functionality if coding is not done properly.

The last option would be perfect for you if you want a website that has a lighter code base, more flexibility for customizations, and is designed to fulfill your business objectives. However, this method takes a longer development time and is more expensive than the previous two options.

Will my website be Responsive?

Responsive Design is the next big thing! In the golden era of mobiles, your website must be responsive to be successful. According to a recent survey performed by Google, 82% of websites now have responsive design. This means if you ignore this feature now, chances are you’ll be missing out on a massive influx of mobile traffic in the future. So, in the case of responsive design, don’t let your developer/agency convince you at any cost.

Will it load fast?

Speed matters! A blazing fast theme not only makes website assets available to end-users within no time but also has the ability to rank your site higher in search results. Most of the developers keep themselves away from writing a few lines of code and rely on many code-heavy plug-ins to accomplish specific functionalities, which can drastically slow your website down. Therefore, the developer/agency you’re hiring must know where and when to use a particular plug-in.

What SEO features will you add to my website?

Despite the fact that WordPress is extremely friendly to search engines, a site built in WordPress still requires some common SEO coding practices – like clean permalinks, no canonicalization issues, proper use of heading tags, and image alt attribute - to be followed. Remember, an experienced WordPress developer would first understand your marketing strategy and SEO objectives and then talk about the website design.

Will you provide a child theme?

A child theme allows you to modify the look of your website without touching any code of the original (parent) theme. Having a child theme proves to be quite beneficial in case you have less programming knowledge and still want to make minor design customizations to your site by yourself. Ask the contracted developer whether he will create a child theme for your site or not.

What will you do to make my WordPress site secure?

Never compromise on the website’s security! Put up some questions regarding security for developers/agencies and let them explain what they have planned to protect your WordPress site from hackers. Some developers may promise to deliver you a theme with a “no-hack guarantee”, but even you need to ask your potential developer what preventive measures he would take to harden your WordPress site.

How will you preserve my current website’s SEO value?

If you’re planning to move your static HTML site to WordPress, you must discuss with your potential developer what he will do to safeguard accumulated SEO value or any other history of your site. If you won’t do so, you may experience various SEO disasters like a drop in organic search rankings, broken or dead links an increase in 404 errors, etc. Proper migration knowledge is a must in case of migrating from a static HTML site to WordPress.

Will you keep regular backups of my site?

Make sure your developer has the ability to integrate your WordPress site with some kind of backup solution, like ManageWP and BackupBuddy, just in case something worse happens with it in the future. If your site has a built-in regular backup solution, you would always have a backed-up version that helps you protect your site against any unforeseen event. Remember, a proper backup is the life insurance of your site.

Do you follow WordPress Coding Standards?

A good developer must follow WordPress Coding Standards to be able to avoid common programming errors, simplify code modification and improve code’s readability. Make sure your developer would keep the website’s code clean and semantic and build your site with the best coding practices and latest technologies in mind. Also, ask him whether the site would be W3C validated or not.

Can you provide client references and show your design portfolio?

Check if your potential developer/agency has some sample of websites they have coded in the past. Go through their portfolio to judge their coding style, level of expertise, and quality of work. Ask them to provide at least 3 past references to have an idea about how they deliver projects. A trustworthy developer never hesitates to provide you with work examples and client references. If he does, it’s a huge red flag!

Will you maintain my WordPress site?

Is the developer you’re going to hire ready to take the responsibility of maintaining your site? This is the most forgotten yet important question among all the questions mentioned above. Consider asking your developer whether or not he will maintain your site after completing the development work. Also clear your doubts about maintenance cost: is it included in what you’re paying, or would you have to pay it separately?

Will you provide support after launch?

Before making any hiring decision, don’t forget to ask your future developer/agency if they can provide quick support after the website’s launch. Make sure to check their time zone and availability and inquire about what mode of communication they prefer to use for client support: live chat, email or phone, etc. Remember, a reliable WordPress developer firmly believes in having a long-term relationship with his clients.