For episode 107 of WP-Tonic, our main topic was how best to choose a WordPress feelance web designer, developer, agency, or WordPress maintenance company.

Our panel of WordPress experts for this round table episode:

Kim Shivler
Jackie D’Elia
John Locke
Jonathan Denwood

In the first segment, we discussed two WordPress news stories:

WooThemes redirects to WooCommerce

The panel saw this re-branding as part of a greater shift within the WordPress product space away from themes and towards plugins, and for certain products, towards software as a service.

Ever since the acquisition of WooCommerce by Automattic, we’ve all been wondering when WooCommerce will be part of the WordPress.com hosted service. This could be the first step in that direction.

Five Challenges Plaguing the WordPress Security Ecosystem

This article discussed some of the main security vulnerabilities in the WordPress ecosystem, chief of which are users. While WordPress itself now defaults towards strong passwords, Jackie had an interesting take on this article.

A main point of the article is that WordPress is made for end-users, but Jackie asserted the admin panel is actually geared towards web professionals, and the admin panel could be better organized and simplified.

Choosing a WordPress development company

In the main topic, the panel discussed how business owners can choose a reliable web professional to help them with their site.

Kim and Jackie both thought businesses should look at specialists rather than generalists. Essentially, it’s better to choose someone with a track record of building sites in your industry, rather someone who builds sites for anyone and everyone. Companies that specialize in your technology stack (like WordPress) are also better than generalists, if that’s something you’ve already determined.

Jackie suggested you should look at social profiles and what content is on their site. Does their content align with what you’re doing?

Kim said you should ask about their technical background, and make sure they have the experience necessary to help you solve your specific problems.

Jackie pointed out that there are people who are good at implementing a theme, and then there are people who are good at actual development. Clients may not know the difference, but one thing to look for is to see what questions they ask you during the interview process. If a developer is asking you probing questions, that may be a good sign that they’ve done this before and they know what they’re doing.

Chemistry is also important. How you work with a company is just as important as whether they can get the job done.

Jackie had some great insights on developing a site starting with the content, as opposed to getting the site content last. This might a worthwhile approach to consider.

The panel also thought if the company is active in the development community, and publish lots of great content, that might also be a good sign. Jackie said take a look at their portfolio , and make sure their work aligns with your particular business.

John said that web developer who have clear and transparent communication are already ahead of 75% of the pack.

Jonathan joined the panel in the last few segments and said soft skills are an important factor. The panel also said it’s a good thing to ask who is actually doing the work. Many agencies outsource to freelancers and oversee the work.

Jackie and Kim said a good web development company will explain things to you like how many plugins you really need, and what plugins you’ll need to renew the license on each year.

Kim warned to beware of web development companies that insist on owning your domain name and hosting your site on their own personal servers, as this can be a red flag.

The panel also gave some great insights as to what top web consultants look for in their ideal clients.

107 WP-Tonic: How to Evaluate a WordPress Freelance Web Designer or Developer was last modified: by