How would you feel if I told you that you may not know as much as you think you know about hiring and working with WordPress developers? What’s worse is that you may be getting it totally wrong altogether!
Whether you're looking for someone who's able to fix all of the issues your website is experiencing, you're looking for someone who can set up your e-commerce website, or you're looking for a reliable developer to scale your business, you should learn how to work with such professionals. Why? Working with remote developers and designers is quickly becoming a standard in today’s global economy, or at least a more common method of getting tasks accomplished because of its many advantages. As such, it’ll be a valuable new skill to learn for business and website owners like you.
Learning and improving how you work with remote WordPress developers/designers will have a positive impact on your business. So I'll guide you through all the steps towards being a pro in dealing with contractors working on your website.
To make it more digestible and to go into greater detail, I'll be covering the topics in a multi-part blog post series, with this being the first in the series. You don't want to miss this series, and I’ll suggest subscribing here.
How to ace your WordPress hiring process and get the best contractors working for you
Since I want you to have all the information you'll ever need for hiring a WordPress contractor, I divided the blog post into 4 main phases to better reflect a project's multi-phase workflow:
- Before you hire your contractor
- How to hire the best contractors for your project (aka the Art of project briefing)
- When the project kicks off
- When your project is complete
Sounds good? Cool, let's start!
1. Before you hire your contractor: overhaul tips
When you need a WordPress professional to help you with your website, no matter how big or how many fixes you're asking for, it'll take a bit of work from your end to ensure a successful project.
Make sure language isn't a barrier for you
So, the very first aspect you should be aware of is to make certain language won’t be a barrier for you. If you want the best results on your project, you’ll want to make sure you can both communicate clearly and effectively about what your needs are and what you’d like accomplished. Bottom line is that communication is one of the most important aspects of your project and having open and clear communication will help ensure you have great results delivered on your project.
While Codeable pre-screens all of the experts for their quality of communication in English, many of them also speak other languages.
Be aware of time zones
When you're searching for your WordPress contractor, you might not think about it, but they may not be living in your same time zone. This might sound silly, but when you're talking with prospective contractors, it often slips through and you get angry because you don't get any responses during your working hours -- that's because the contractor is probably offline or sleeping.
There's not much you can do about time zones except to using them to your advantage. For example, your project needs might require for you both to be speaking during business hours to accomplish your goals. In this case, you’ll want to make sure your contractor will be available during the set hours you need them. Some people however, prefer to have contractors working in opposite time zones so that they can request a project or items to be done at the end of the day and wake up to them already being accomplished and delivered.
There’s no right or wrong method when it comes to working with time zones, just managing and having clear expectations so that it works to your advantage and suits your needs.
Be responsive so you can start the project as soon as possible
No matter where your WordPress contractor lives and what time zone they are in, your goal is addressing your business needs and getting your project completed. Therefore, when looking to hire a WordPress contractor, you'll want to understand whether one candidate is a better match for you than another. And nothing works better than being responsive and answering a prospective contractor’s questions. You can prevent many of these with a kickass project brief (see below), yet there will be other questions popping up even in this early stage.
So be prepared to answer in a timely manner because, at the end of the day, that's time you're investing towards your project’s completion, but you still haven’t officially started working on your project with a contractor yet.
After you've taken into account these three crucial aspects, it's now time to find a reliable WordPress contractor to work on your project.
2. How to attract the best contractors for your project (aka the Art of project briefing)
Your project brief is the core element that will help you get the results you’re looking to have delivered. A brief can be a make it or break it kinda thing. Creating your own brief will help to speed up the process and get you to the finish line faster with less back and forth dialogue and fewer questions needing answers.
Here's how to create a great brief that will make all the contractors eager to jump onto your train and work with you:
- Rule #0: have a budget
- Rule #1: define clear goals with tangible outcomes/results
- Rule #2: define deadlines
- Rule #3: define success criteria
- Rule #4: avoid sentences that undermine the contractor's experience
More on each rule pertaining to your project brief
Why you need a budget - if you're scouting for a WordPress contractor, you can't start your journey without budgeting for what you need. Just as you might expect to pay your plumber to fix your pipes in your home, you need to have some money set aside for your project. It's a no-brainer. Don't have any idea about how much your project will cost you? You could spend some time doing some research or if you have a bigger, more complex project and you want to come up with a defined plan of action (and project estimate), you can jump on a 1-hour consultation and ask a contractor his/her insights on that matter.
Why you need to set goals with tangible outcomes - when working with a developer, you want them to perfectly understand what you'll need so there's no wasting of your resources (and theirs). Setting up goals with specific and detailed outcomes will make the whole process easier to manage, and thus more likely to get completed in a timely manner.
Why you need to set deadlines - writing down deadlines forces both you and the contractor to have a common timeframe in which the project has to be developed and delivered. One benefit you might be missing here is that a deadline allows the developer to set realistic expectations, and both you and the developer will be able to better plan your schedule and resources.
Why you need success criteria - is there a way you can objectively say a project is complete? Yes, and it's by adding at least one way to measure the success of the project itself in an objective way. If you have no idea what these are, success criteria are measurable metrics by which a project can be judged as a success (or not) in accordance with the client's primary goal like: a) Increase brand awareness b) Generate 10% more traffic c) Increase newsletter subscriptions, just to name a few.
Why you need to be respectful to the contractor's experience - of all the aspects that a project brief has to incorporate to make it more appealing and effective, many people forget this one: you're talking to a professional that might address all your business needs because you're not capable of doing that. So I recommend to never ever use one of the following sentences in your project brief:
Sentences to avoid in a project brief
- "This should be easy"
- "This should take very little time"
- "I know this can be done in X hours"
- "I already have a quote on this for X amount"
- "I hope you understand that there are way more jobs to come, so please be frugal on quoting"
I know what you're thinking: I'm the one who's hiring them, they should just do what I tell them to do. I’m sorry, but you're wrong.
You're the one looking for their help, not the other way around. So don't make them feel like novices or total beginners in a field you have little to no knowledge and leverage their experience towards your project instead.
One day a friend of mine told me this:
Remember, coders are like deer: they scare easily.
For some specific projects, you might want to clearly discuss upfront other aspects that don't usually fall into a project brief such as a) maintenance, b) hosting, c) staging site: who's gonna provide it/set up?.
Brief recap: if you wish to land the best WordPress professional you've ever dreamed about, you'll need to craft a clear, detailed and informative project brief.
But how about when things start and your project kicks off? Let's see what you should do!
3. When the project kicks off
So you hired your WordPress contractor, yeah (up top) congrats! Now it's time to devote yourself toward making the project run as smoothly as possible. To save time and have your project "contractor ready" so that they can start working his/her magic on your project, you should prepare upfront. Specifically, be ready to have at your disposal the following material:
Things to prepare upfront
- Login credentials for your current WordPress website
- FTP logins and URLs
- Other tools or services you’d need the contractor to look at or work with
- Graphic assets like logo and imagery material
- Content like copy for landing pages and homepage, product descriptions, etc. and anything that might come in handy
Once you have all this material collected and ready to be shared, you’ll ensure that your project is presented in a neat and efficient manner to your experts. This way, you won’t waste your time (and the time of your potential contractor.
Wear the Project Manager hat
No matter what your project is about, you'll play an important role in the whole process. Specifically, you'll be the one who's asked to deliver all the information, provide answers, and clear doubts that will pop up while the project is running.
If you have never worked with contractors, being in charge of everything might scare you off a bit. And to make your experience easier, I'd suggest sticking to the following guidelines and you'll be improving day by day, I promise:
- Use a tool to keep track of what you've requested, what's already been done, and what's left. Asana, Podio, Trello are great tools for such purposes, but a Google Spreadsheet could make it the case too. If your project involves codes, try Bitbucket for code repositories, revisions, and comments
- Communicate proactively by giving constructive feedback and try to anticipate questions as the project advances.
- Do everything to remove misunderstandings. So if you already have examples, mockups or prototypes, be sure to share them with your contractor and add your comments.
- Be open to suggestions from the contractor because, as easy as it seems, they're the ones who know how to address your requests. With that said, you can’t simply unthinkingly agree to everything that your contractor suggests (that would be crazy, I know). When something doesn't seem to be a good fit for you, ask the contractor for the reasons behind their proposed solution.
- Be respectful, you're both in the same boat and both led by a shared Northern star: your project.
4. When your project is complete
Once the last task is done, and you mark it as complete, you're left with one last final thing to do: be sure all your project requirements have been delivered to you (within the timeframe that you and the contractor both agreed on).
If you're happy with the results, just release your payment and celebrate, like this: