How to hire a freelance WordPress developer


A guide to hiring the very best WordPress developers

Written with help from Alex W and Herb M.

Projects needing a WordPress developer are very popular on the weliketowork.com marketplace. But with hundreds of vetted UK WordPress developers to choose from, how do you hire the right freelance WordPress developer for your project?

In this guide, we'll look at some common traits of a successful freelance WordPress developer and some interview style questions you can ask to check they are right for your project:

In this guide

How to hire a freelance WordPress developer

What makes a good freelance WordPress developer?

WordPress is a very popular content management system. There are hundreds of thousands of websites running on WordPress and there are also lots of people claiming to be Wordpress developers.

However there is a difference between being able to install WordPress or upload a template and being a full-fledged freelance WordPress developer.

2 traits of a good freelance WordPress developer

There are two things common to all stand-out freelance WordPress developers.

  1. Expert level WordPress know-how
  2. Capability in related coding languages or technology

1) Expert level know-how

There are four areas of the WordPress platform a good developer will have expert knowledge and experience with:

Templates & Themes

Templates and themes control the design, functionality and interactivity of the instance of WordPress. Projects for development or customisation of WordPress are by far the most common.

A good freelance WordPress developer will know how to create a Template from scratch adhering to WordPress' conventions and best-practices.

Plugins

Plugins are custom-written ways to extend the functionality of the core WordPress platform. Popular plugins exist to create enquiry forms, add custom fields to a page template and to integrate website analytics. Due to the sheer number of plugins that already exist, custom plugin projects are not as common as template projects.

In addition to being able to create a plugin, a good freelance WordPress developer will understand WordPress' rules around Plugin requirements and the submission and approval process.

Contributing to WordPress Core

WordPress is an open-source platform, developed and maintained by a community of contributors.

This is where the good WordPress developers set themselves apart from the crowd. Any developer actively involved in developing the WordPress Core is certain to have an exceptional level of know-how on WordPress development.

WordPress best practices

When developing WordPress there are a number of best practices or development considerations a good freelance WordPress developer should have in mind:

2) Capability in related coding languages or technology

WordPress is a great platform but it doesn't work in isolation. To run a website, a good freelance WordPress developer will also need to be capable in other related coding languages or technology.

PHP

WordPress is written in PHP so a good WordPress developer will know and understand the wider capabilities of PHP, including Object-Oriented Programming, conditional statements and loops.

Database Design

WordPress uses MySQL as its database management system. In an ideal world a WordPress developer shouldn't really need to write any direct SQL statements, but a good WordPress developer will know and understand the capabilities of MySQL, including database structure, data-types and complicated JOIN queries.

Linux & Apache/Nginx

Knowing about file permissions and Rewrites/Redirects on the server is pretty key to good WordPress practises.

Front-end development (HTML/CSS/JS)

Template development in particular will mean a good WordPress developer needs to be capable with front-end development and know how to work with HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Source / Version control

As the size or complexity of a WordPress development project increases, so does the likelihood of there being a development team and version control. Knowing and being able to work with Git or Subversion will enable a good freelance WordPress developer to integrate easier with an existing team.


Writing a brief for your WordPress project

As mentioned in our guide on writing an effective brief, your brief is the difference between a good project outcome and a bad project outcome.

The challenge with briefing a WordPress project is often that your desire to write a detailed, thorough brief leads to confusion about project scope.

As a client looking to hire a freelance developer for your WordPress project, it is much better to concentrate on describing the outcome you want as clearly as possible. Do not try and detail the technical or WordPress specific elements.

A good WordPress developer should be able to:


Questions to ask your WordPress developer

After you have created your WordPress project and you are starting to shortlist and discuss the project with freelance WordPress developers, here are some questions you could ask to help you select the right one.

Do you have a portfolio?

Often a WordPress developer is building to someone else's designs, so it is important you consider this when evaluating their work. Instead of paying too much attention to the designs, you should focus on things like functionality, accessibility and application speed.

Have you worked in my industry?

Previous industry experience can greatly shortcut the time to get a project started.

What milestones would you deliver my project in?

This is good way for you to get an understanding of the deliverables you can expect, without needing to delve into WordPress technical specifications.

At what stages can I provide feedback?

In other words, at what points in the project will I start to see something I can provide feedback on?

How and when do you work?

Knowing when your chosen freelancer works and how they prefer to communicate, is important for any project. If you prefer giving feedback on the phone, you will be better off hiring a freelancer who keeps similar working hours to you.

In general, it is more beneficial to ask open-ended questions about things like ways of working or previous experience, rather than try and explore technical WordPress specifics.


Hiring a freelance WordPress developer: Summary

There are three things that will make hiring a freelance WordPress developer easier:


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