Beware of Bad WordPress Developers: 8 Ways To Spot and Avoid Danger

Aside from your inventory, vision and personnel, your website is your business’s most valuable possession. With your website, you can brand your label, court your customers, store and disseminate information, manage your projects and contacts, and so much more. Choosing a developer to trust with the creation or update of your WordPress site is one of the most important decisions you can make. Here are a few red flags to be aware of and help make sure your WordPress development is in capable, honest and fair hands.

You Won’t Be Able To Make Updates

Whoah, hold on one second. WordPress is a content management system (CMS). Ease of updates is what it was made for. Anyone saying differently is trying to keep you in the dark and paying for work you could be doing yourself. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog or considering WordPress services, plugins and support, you are probably already capable of making basic content updates to your WordPress Site. If you aren’t sure how to log in and update content, you might want to ask your developer for a training session included with your new site’s estimate.

Inability To Explain Any Technical Details in Layman’s Terms

Sure, if you knew everything that your developer was going to be doing, you’d probably do it yourself. Ask a few probing questions to find out if your prospective contractor is brilliant or the bunk. Here are a few questions to consider asking to prove that this isn’t his first WordPress rodeo:

“What is your approach to W3C standards?” – If developer candidate doesn’t know about web standards, you want to look elsewhere.

“How would you recommend I incorporate social media into my overall web strategy?” – Whether or not you want to make the leap into facebook, blogging and twitter, your developer should be able to offer solid strategy in this area.

“How long have you worked with WordPress?” – Look for at least three years of working experience.

“What is your current availability for working on my project?” – You do want your build or updates finished in a timely manner, don’t you?

“Can you provide references?” – Good work engenders good feelings. A developer worthy of your project will have gotten a few love letters from satisfied clients over the years.

“What experience do you have with JavaScript, PHP and MySQL?” – Any solid WordPress developer will have an experienced working knowledge of these basics in order to customize your site easily and smoothly.

Monthly Maintenance Required

Don’t get me wrong; good development companies will be able to provide you with ongoing update and service plans if you aren’t interested in updating your site’s content or for phasing in new features and functionality. Beware, however, of any company or developer that requires an ongoing monthly contract in order to do any work on your site.

Lots of Buzz, No Portfolio

It’s easy to fall for smooth copy and slick design but the proof of any developer is a good portfolio with live working examples. If you can’t click around and experience first-hand the design, speed and functionality of a website your prospective developer has built, you may want to consider hiring someone else.

Limited Communication Methods

If all you have to communicate through is a contact form on a development website, you may want to think twice. If you request to speak with a developer or company on the phone and they refuse, you may at best be dealing with a bad communicator. At worst, you may be dealing with a fraud. A bio page describing the individuals who will be handling your project, contact email addresses and a company phone number are indicators of good communication skills. Don’t overlook this cornerstone of customer service.

More Than Two Days’ Delay When Returning Correspondence

There are times when any developer or company gets overwhelmed with a heavy workload, delays on other client projects, technical difficulties or family (or company) issues. To delay a correspondence for a day or two is human. To let it go longer than that means that either this developer is too busy for your project or he/she is a bad communicator. Either way, you should look elsewhere or risk beating your head against your keyboard and spending sleepless nights wondering whether your down payment is lost forever. Make sure your development team’s style and method of correspondence fits your own and you’ll be a much happier camper while your site is under construction.

SEO Packages That Sound Shady Or Can’t Be Explained Clearly

Search engines can and will block websites that use shady SEO tactics to try to gain artificially high rankings. You don’t want your website blacklisted. For every developer ready to customize a WordPress SEO plugin and analytics tracking, there is another prepared to try black glove techniques to give you artificial search result placement. Asking for specific advice on an SEO plan that is right for your website, whether or not you want SEO services, can be a good way to learn how professional, educated and honest your prospective developer is. Beware of any promise of immediate results or top rank.

Inability To Provide a Detailed Project Estimate

Don’t let yourself be fooled into believing in the mystique of development. If your developer is competent, he will know what you’re asking for and be able to walk you through his process step by step along with a detailed cost and time analysis. This is a must-have for all but the smallest update projects.

NOTE: Don’t be wary if your developer or development company requires a payment to initiate contracts over a couple hundred dollars. This is standard. Just make sure you have a clear understanding of the project from the development standpoint before making a financial committment.

Choose the right developer or development team and you will watch your ideas come to life easily and painlessly. You will be able to confortably communicate your desires and get advice on crafting a solution that specifically fits your needs.

Choose the wrong developer and you will risk more than just the time and money you’re investing in your company; you risk your reputation, your security, your domain and maybe even your sanity.

I know you want your sparkling web vision realized as soon as possible but if you tak the time to follow these simple rules you will save yourself a risky and unpleasant development experience.