How to choose a web development company for your WordPress website
WordPress is an excellent platform for your website, but choosing the right WordPress website development company is key.
When you need a new website, choosing to build it on WordPress gives you all the benefits of the world’s most extensive content management ecosystem. It’s an excellent platform for building your brand’s shop window – or even its shop – but only if you work with the right partner. Here’s what to look for when choosing a web development company.
When choosing a content management system for your website, it’s hard to argue against WordPress. Free, open-source and widely understood, it’s behind some 43% of the world’s websites in 2022. Choosing WordPress web development opens the door to an ecosystem ripe with themes, plugins, and other customisable and ready-made tools. Not just that, it gives you the choice of thousands of experienced WordPress web developers.
But with so many developers around, it helps to know how to choose a web development company that is right for your needs. Finding the right WordPress developer means more than just looking at past projects or going with the cheapest quote.
In this article, we’ll look at how to pick the right WordPress development partner for your business.
What to look for when hiring a web developer
Without a doubt, you need to start with research. Think of the websites you really love and why you love them, and then try to find out who built them. It’s a great idea to tap up your professional network and local businesses for recommendations, too. While projects differ and people’s experiences vary, a good recommendation is always worth following up.
When building your list of potential partners, look through a developer’s case studies to identify who they’ve worked for and the projects involved. Ideally, look for custom WordPress development projects with similar requirements to your own – for example, if you need ecommerce development or a membership website, make sure you only shortlist developers who can show you ones they’ve built.
It may sound obvious, but it’s essential to do more than read the case study. Visit the websites they’ve built and test them to see what you think of their quality and usability. If you can it’s worth having a look on different devices – check that the sites look and work just as well on your mobile as they do on your laptop. Don’t be shy to contact a team at this stage – good developers are proud of their work and are likely to have clients ready to sing their praises and provide testimonials and references.
Things to consider
When choosing a WordPress development company, talk to them about the significant considerations for your project. These might include:
- Migration from an old site
- Integration with existing data or systems
- SEO and content requirements
- Ongoing costs – such as for hosting or site maintenance
- Accessibility – how can they help ensure good practice?
- Security – how will they keep sensitive information such as logins secure?
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Once you’ve built a shortlist of web development companies whose work you like, you can then reduce it down by digging a bit deeper. It may seem counter-intuitive, but an excellent place to start is by looking at what the companies on your list do other than WordPress.
While platform expertise is vital, many websites depend on a mix of technologies and integrations – a developer may struggle if they’re learning everything else from scratch.
Ask developers which technologies they’ve used to create the websites you like – and why they used them. This will help you understand how they approached the project as a whole and how they adapted to customer requirements or limitations. Development partners with varied experience and a flexible skillset will find it easier to support your site should you wish to add new features and integrations as your business grows.
A strong WordPress development company should be an invaluable source of improvements to your ideas or design. For example, they may have in-house specialists or partners in user experience, graphic design or content production. Why not draw on these experts to flesh out or improve your plans?
It’s best to discuss your brief thoroughly with any potential partners. Be wary of developers who sign up without asking any questions or raising potential issues – the chances are they haven’t thought hard enough about the brief.
Look for WordPress web developers who constructively challenge your ideas, flagging up problems or opportunities and offering suggestions, improvements, or solutions. These are likely to be the ones who’ve best understood the brief and what it’ll take to do it well.
This exchange of value only grows in importance as the website project progresses, so pick a developer that’s available and relatable. It’s crucial you can speak to a named contact with ownership of the project. Talking to someone who knows the brief and is on top of the details is immeasurably better than leaving messages for that person with their colleagues who may not know anything about it!
We advise discounting unresponsive development companies as early as possible. If someone is hard to get hold of, doesn’t reply to emails or keeps you waiting during the planning phase, things aren’t likely to get better when you need them.
Website development doesn’t happen in a bubble, so you should look for a web developer that takes the time to understand your broader business goals. Knowledge of your business and audience helps them deliver a more tailored, better-performing website.
Your web development company must be clued into your marketing initiatives that the site will need to support. Similarly, they’ll need an overview of your goals for search engine visibility and may need to work closely with any existing search engine optimisation (SEO) experts to ensure the website is optimised correctly. In an ideal world, they will help you with SEO as they develop the website.
This understanding needn’t end when the web project does. You should look for a developer who will take ownership of their role in the project. Ensure they’ll be available to address any issues and handle any changes you might need later.
It’s best to plan for the future in this way. Whether you anticipate further development or not, you may need to expand your online and digital presence later. By looking for a versatile partner now, you may save yourself a headache further down the road.
Find a web developer who’s going to be around for future developments. And if they also have more comprehensive digital expertise – for example, in bespoke software development – all the better.
Questions to ask your web development partner
Once you have your shortlist, it’s helpful to ask them all a standard list of screening questions so that you can compare them easily. That way you can find out if they are a good fit for your project and maximise your chance of success.
Use the list below and customise it for your needs:
- Why should we choose you?
- What experience do you have in my industry and with similar websites?
- How do you approach a new website development project?
- What clients have you worked with previously?
- Can you show me some of the things you have developed?
- What are your company’s values?
- What will be needed from our team throughout the project?
- How will you work with our team?
- How do you deal with challenges, and if things don’t go according to plan?
- How do you ensure a consistent user experience across various devices?
- How long will the project (realistically) take?
- How will you optimise my website for speed and SEO?
- What testing and quality control checks do you perform before the launch of a new website?
- How do you handle hosting, security and maintenance?
- What other services does your company provide?
- Can you provide three client references?
- Where do you see web development going in the next 12 months?
- Name a website you wished you’d built.
To sum up, the success of your web project depends not only on the ability of the developers you choose but on your working relationship with them. Use research and personal recommendations to find suitable candidates and then be guided by their interest in the brief. Most of all, if you can’t quickly contact or build up a working relationship with a developer, cross them straight off the list.