When I started on this technology adventure over 20 years ago it was clear that clients didn't know the questions they needed to ask those they were trusting with their online program. Back in the day you had "Web Designers" who barely knew how to effectively use their FrontPage software. Add all the other variables and coding skills that were necessary to ensuring they had their client's backs covered and skilled folks were few and far between.
The More Things Change...
Fast forward to now and I see the same thing happening. WordPress Consultants are popping up everywhere you turn. Many because they were able to easily create their own WordPress site, therefore, they decided to be a "consultant." In reality these well intentioned folks just know a tad bit more than their potential customers which therefore allows them to appear as experts. The fallout from these experiences contact me every day.
Then there are the real experts who are too busy, too arrogant, too wrapped up in their own little world. These consultants are also not doing right by those who have entrusted them with the design, development and support of their online program. I hear from frustrated potential clients after feeling "jilted" by these individuals on a regular basis. What a shame... This gives us all a black eye.
The onus is on the client to determine who really knows their stuff and who will be there when they need them. They also need to make sure they pick the right persona for what they need or require in a consultant. This is called due diligence. With many small businesses on a tight budget, it is even more important to carefully jury those you plan on hiring.
There is a certain amount of blind trust that goes into hiring any consultant. While you cannot verify every single word or claim on their website, you can ask the following handful of questions to minimize any surprises down the road.
5 Questions to Ask Your Potential WordPress Consultant
- How long have you worked with WordPress?
The longer the better. WordPress has been evolving like crazy for the last several years and you want to look for someone whose been along for that ride. This helps with theme functionality, code or plugin conflict resolution and so much more. Look at the Consultant's site and judge accordingly. You can double-check their longevity by doing a "WhoIs" search at any domain registrar for their domain name to see when they registered it. This can be a clue that can help put the length of experience into perspective.
- Can I review your Terms of Service?
This document should be online and/or available to potential new clients for review when asked for. It should be provided before a single service is provide or a charge incurred. Whether it be a contract or a simple TOS, this document should spell out everything you need to know about time frames, payments and processes so you know exactly what you are paying for and what to expect. Any questions after your review need to be answered to your satisfaction -- or move on.
- What type of business and SEO support will you offer during the development process?
There are WordPress Developers and WordPress Consultants. Two different types of service are offered by the two. Those who help create your custom site design with the back-end code are developers. Developers generally do not offer coaching and guidance on your site's content, SEO considerations and overall effectiveness based on your stated goals. That's what a consultant offers. You need to understand this important distinction so that you can set your expectations accordingly.
- What level of personalized WordPress training will you provide?
Will your WordPress Consultant take the time to guide you on how to best use your new site's features and functionality? Do they offer training of any sort? If this level of support is important to you, don't settle until you find the individual that meets your needs.
- How do you handle post-launch support when WordPress, themes and plugins update?
WordPress is constantly being upgraded and tweaked both for functionality, ease of use and security hardening. What happens when WordPress, themes or plugins update? What about your theme updates? Do they offer maintenance and optimization services so that when a WordPress update drops you are covered? Are there fees involved? And if so what services are actually performed? You need to seek out a WordPress Consultant who can guide you on what needs to be considered when updates occur so your site remains up-to-date, functional and more importantly secure!
Developer vs. Consultant
Go with Your Gut
Your gut is never wrong. We've just been conditioned to ignore those nagging signals. You'll know if you can work with someone or not. If you feel uncomfortable or don't like the individual -- those are valid reasons to not proceed with such an important partnership.
E-mail the WordPress Consultant you are taking under consideration about the above issues and see how they respond. Do they respond promptly, professionally and with detail or in a day or two with a generic response? This initial inquiry in of itself will be very telling on what you can expect moving forward.
By taking the time to carefully review a potential WordPress Consultant's website combined with asking the questions above, you can determine if a consultant is the right fit -- for you.
At your service,