Looking to hire a WordPress developer? Maybe you’re building a website or starting a business online, and realized you need help accomplishing specific features or functionality for your website. Sure, you could probably figure things out on your own with enough patience and research. But is it truly the best use or your time?
If so, an investment in a professional WordPress developer might just be the right choice for you. But what are the things you need to know before hiring a WordPress developer for your project?
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the big things you definitely need to know before you hire a WordPress developer.
Let’s dive in.
What Is a WordPress Developer?A WordPress developer is responsible for frontend and backend website development of a WordPress website. WordPress develeopers may also build custom plugins or WordPress themes.
A WordPress developer should also have a solid understanding of the latest trends in the industry, and be well-versed on current content management systems.
Beyond those things, the WordPress developer you’re looking for needs to be an expert at designing and implementing new website features and functionalities, while establishing and guiding your website’s overall architecture.
They know how to manage all of the technical aspects of the content management system, while ensuring high-level performance and user availability.
Your developer should know how to formulate a responsive, effective design and turn it into a working theme or plugin.
Why Would You Need to Hire a WordPress Developer?
The internet is full of resources, courses, even forums that you can use to learn WordPress and WordPress web development so you can have the skills to build your website yourself. But there still is a whole lot of benefit with hiring someone who is experienced in the field.
If you’re looking at hiring a WordPress Developer, you either fall into one of these three categories:
- You have the budget, but not enough time to learn new skills or do the actual work
- You have basic web development skills but needs help with more complicated development work or standby support
- You need to delegate a specific task that needs a particular skillset.
If you are the person managing the business, a professional who just doesn’t have the time to do it, just wants someone to help you out with the more technical side of WordPress, or are limited to a particular skill set, it makes sense to hire someone else instead.
For example, you may already know the ins and outs of WordPress but are lacking a particular taste in design and the user interface experience, in that case it’s best that you outsource the work to someone who has the experience to do it.
But you have to do it with caution. You will essentially be trusting this person with your website and potentially a whole host of information about you or your customers and clients.
Not sure what to look for in a WordPress Developer? Let’s talk about that next.
What to Look For in a WordPress Developer
As the world increasingly moves its presence online, so does the workforce. Thousands of developers post their profiles online along with hundreds of agencies, platforms, and companies that offer to be your dedicated WordPress developer.
But the question remains as to how you sort these people out. What are the actual skills, credentials, and background that you’d need to consider to not regret the decision of hiring one in the first place?
Before we dive into answering those questions, keep in mind that you’d still need to be a very large part of the website building process just as much as your chosen developer. As much as you just want to give them your idea and let them make it happen, ultimately, you will have to spend a little bit of your time checking and making the decisions. It is your website, after all.
With that said, let’s check out what to look for in a WordPress developer. Let’s break them down.
1. Soft Skills
As important as any technical know-how is, soft-skills are equally as important. You don’t want to end up hiring someone who you can’t talk to or who doesn’t match your passion and creative style.
There are many horror stories online about people hiring developers who technically got the job done, but wasn’t the way the original idea flowed.
You would want to hire people you can actually work with, understand, have a productive and creative discussion, ideally share your creative style, and most of all can deliver what is asked.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Communication Skills – You need to be able to communicate to this person productively. Preferably via phone call or video conference where you can share your screen or show them what you want to achieve. In the absence of these, you at least want someone who is reachable via chat or email. And is responsive. Take note, there is a big difference between being able to talk and being able to communicate effectively. You’d want to pick the latter.
- Attention to Detail – This is another skill that’s worth noting for obvious reasons. Whether you’re a carefree person, or someone who can spot a pixel off from a mile away, your developer needs to be someone who is attentive to detail and potentially catches mistakes that you may miss yourself.
- Ability to Meet Reasonable Deadlines – This is very important. You’d want someone who can meet reasonable deadlines set, barring any complications or errors in the process. Ideally you’d want someone who can anticipate these problems as much as possible and set the right expectations for you. As the employer, it’s also a reminder to be considerate when it comes to deadlines, especially if you don’t know first-hand what’s going on behind the scenes. They might make it look easy, but could spend hours on the back end trying to make it work.
- Confidence and Independence – Someone who is confident with their skills and experience would know what to do in case anything goes wrong. Of course communication is still key, but in the instance that you’re not available, they’d need to be able to make decisions based on their experience as to what’s the best thing to do in that situation. On the other hand, you’d need someone who can confidently tell you if your requests on the website are doable or not, instead of being a “Yes” man and then not being able to deliver. But be cautious about giving too much trust in people unless they have a proven track record.
After reading through that, you might think that you’re ready to get started? But actually, there’s a whole lot more than just soft skills.
2. Technical & Coding Skills
When it comes time to hire a WordPress developer, they must have a specific technical skillset. Many WordPress developers began their learning curve by working on their own projects, then sharpened their skills throughout the years by taking courses and learning new programming languages and techniques from the variety of development jobs they’ve taken on.
Qualifications and requirements to look for in an experienced WordPress developer include:
- Verifiable experience building website user interfaces and/or applications
- Experience developing and designing fully responsive websites
- Familiar with debugging tools such as Chrome Inspector and Firebug
- Be able to understand changes in CSS and how they impact your site, in order to ensure a consistent style and usability across all browsers and platforms
- The ability to convert layouts and wireframes into functional HTML pages
- Knowledge of RESTful APIs and formats like JSON and XML
- Thorough understanding of code versioning tools, like SVN, Mercurial and Git
- Thorough understanding of all back-end development in PHP
- Knowledge of various WordPress page builder themes or plugins
- Knowledge of WordPress plugins to use to accomplish certain features
- Familiarity with basic WordPress security best practices and WordPress maintenance, including WordPress backups and updates.
The truth it that no two WordPress developers are exactly alike. The WordPress CMS platform is extremely flexible and supports a lot of different styles, functionalities and industries. But this section has given you the basics of what a WordPress developer is and does.
2. Expertise, Background, Portfolio and References
You can’t just hire anybody who claims they know WordPress. You have to consider their background too.
Since web development can literally be learned from top to bottom online, educational background is often not a factor when looking for a WordPress developer, but it’s still a good box to check for extra points.
Aside from that, you’d want to check your developer’s specific area of expertise. Even though web development, in general, is a combination of different areas, you might need someone who has a particular eye for design rather than just development.
Or you might need someone who can manage and troubleshoot your databases on the server-side instead of just being on the WordPress end. You have to be specific enough to list down what you need help with and if their expertise matches your requirements.
It is also in your best interest to ask for a portfolio or at least a list of websites that they’ve managed or designed in the past. Especially for big projects where the budget is both huge and tight, you want to make sure that they have the experience and not using your site as a testing ground.
Lastly, references. You need to have a way to vet or verify their portfolio. Either ask for names and emails of their previous employers or do your own quick background check. Be prudent enough to verify all the information that you are given. It will pay off in the long run.
3. Cost, Budget, Pay Expectations and Availability
Money will never be out of the equation. Whether you’re a big organization or just an individual looking for help, it’s always wise to communicate with your candidates about their pay expectations.
Aim for the middle ground, at least, if your project isn’t as high-end as giant corporations. But also don’t hesitate to be a little bit more generous when you get someone with a specific advanced skill set and years of experience behind their backs.
You may get a lot of offers that would seem to be good to be true, i.e., cheap and experienced, but think about the end result. Careful vetting, trusting your instincts, and open communication is the key especially when talking about money.
Don’t forget to agree on a schedule when the work must be done. If you’re looking at hiring an individual overseas, make sure to communicate your expected availability and working hours. Time zones are a thing, and are often the cause for most confusions.
Don’t forget to do your research about the budget that you’d potentially need for the project to make sure you have enough ready.
What Is the Best Way to Hire a WordPress Developer?
Now that you know most of the basics on what to look for in a WordPress developer, the next question is how exactly do you hire one?
The first question you need to answer is if you need a WordPress developer as a full or part-time employee, or if your need is for a temporary project.
If you’re looking to hire a WordPress developer to have on-staff, reference section one for many of the qualifications you’ll be looking for in your new employee. When you write up your job description, include much of what was covered in section one.
Be careful about requiring that a WordPress developer have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, however. The reality is that WordPress development is mostly learned through real world experience.
A developer’s WordPress development portfolio is much more important than a piece of paper showing you what school they attended. You’ll be able to learn about their many projects and skills during the interview phase of the hiring process, and by diving into their existing portfolio.
Much of these same principles hold true if you’re hiring a WordPress developer for a temporary project. You’ll still want to write up a complete job description using many of the details mentioned in section one, and you’ll want to conduct interviews with each candidate that meets your criteria.
The difference with hiring for a temporary project verses hiring a long-term employee is that you probably won’t need to be as intense during the interview process. In fact, you’ll typically want to conduct just one round of interviews for temporary hires, then make your hiring decision based off of the information you’ve gathered in that single interview round.
Hiring a WordPress Developer For a Temporary Project
When you’re hiring a WordPress developer for a temporary project, some of the best places to list your job include sites like:
On these sites, you’ll find mostly freelancers that are seeking temporary development jobs and enjoy working on their own schedules. The sites are very diverse, and you will receive applicants from all around the world, unless you specify otherwise.
You’ll typically find that developers outside of the United States will charge significantly lower rates than those in the States. Sometimes higher quality development work should, in fact, demand a higher fee. However, as you hone your freelance hiring skills, you’ll also uncover some hidden gems that provide top-level development for bargain-basement rates.
Another way to save some money on your development work is to hire freelancers that don’t have very established profiles on these sites, but that do have an established track record on their personal websites’ portfolio section.
Because most freelance websites like to promote freelancers who have already done a lot of work through their platforms, the newer freelance members tend to get overlooked by a lot of organizations looking to hire a WordPress developer.
Newer freelancers on these sites will try to start landing development jobs by charging lower rates than the more established profiles.
Hiring a WordPress Developer as Long-Term Employee
If you’re hiring a WordPress developer as a long-term employee, start posting your listing on these sites:
- Simply Hired
- Pinterest (yes, many recruiters report that they get the most qualified candidates from Pinterest)
This hiring process will be longer and more intense than hiring a temporary developer. Take your time narrowing down candidates until it becomes obvious which one perfectly fits your organization and development requirements.
How Much Will It Cost To Hire a WordPress Developer?
Before you hire a developer, it’s important to know how much it’s going to cost. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, you can get a good ballpark idea of what you’ll need to invest for your job or project.
To properly cover the costs of hiring your developer, let’s break this down into two parts.
To get started, we are going to look at data from freelancing platforms and popular job sites to determine:
- The average salary for a full-time job
- The average freelance rates
But there is a caveat. The reality is that accurately calculating the cost of a WordPress developer, or what their salary is, is not a simple task. There are several factors that can skew the numbers one way or the other.
First, WordPress is wildly popular. In fact, it is currently powering over 37% of the entire web. Because it is so popular, there are tons of people who could easily fall under the category of “WordPress developer.”
There is a major distinction between genuine developers and what are referred to as “implementers.”
The developers are the individuals who work directly with the website code and building solutions. An implementer spends their time and energy on taking those solutions and transforming them into functional client websites.
However, to many hirers, both implementers and developers fit into the category of “WordPress developers,” especially in the freelance world.
Beyond this, and to further complicate things, WordPress is used worldwide. There are freelancers and developers all thought the world. This means that geography will play a huge role in cost and salary averages, especially when it comes to the rates that each freelancer charges.
For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on data from popular job sites for developers within the United States.
Here is what they report on what WordPress developers earn:
This averages out to a yearly salary of $60,337.25 for US-based WordPress developers.
If you’re looking to hire a WordPress developer as a long-term employee within the US, that number is a good place to start the salary negotiations.
But as previously discussed, a good percentage of WordPress developers work on a freelance, per-project basis. And unlike the long-term employment salaries referenced above, there’s not really a single average here on what you should expect to invest for your development project.
To give a baseline, it’s important to look at the rate range of the freelance WordPress developers on each of the popular freelance platforms.
Keep in mind that these numbers and averages are based on the entire worldwide market, and are for what are referred to as “general marketplaces.”
These include freelance marketplaces such as:
These general marketplaces allow pretty much anyone to sign up as a freelancer without much vetting by the platform. This makes it quite easy to sign up and call yourself a WordPress developer.
According UpWork’s WordPress Developers, WordPress developers on UpWork tend to charge anywhere from $20-100/hour, depending on experience, location, knowledge and expertise.
People Per Hour gives a more helpful breakdown of their available freelancers by the rates that each one chooses to charge their clients.
Of the more than 3,800 freelancers on People Per Hour that are filtered under the search term “WordPress developer,” the rate breakdown goes like this:
- 2% charge more than $60 per hour
- 7% charge between $35-60 per hour
- 24% charge between $15-35 per hour
- 67% charge less than $15 per hour
While these rates might sound more appealing to you, remember that on many occasions, higher rates will result in a higher quality of work. And the last costs that you want to skimp on are the costs of doing business online.
That said, there are also specialized freelance marketplaces that you can look at when hiring a freelance WordPress developer.
Unlike the very open nature of People Per Hour and UpWork, these specialized marketplaces demand and require testing for all freelancers before they’re allowed to begin searching for work.
Because of this, they’re more difficult to get into for many freelancers who lack the full spectrum of WordPress development skills. This causes the rates, and the overall quality of work, to go up for those looking to hire off of specialized freelance marketplaces.
Codeable is one of these specialized marketplaces. When you hire a freelance WordPress Developer on Codeable, the minimum you’ll pay is $60 per hour.
Overall, the rates will range between $60-90 per hour.
CodementorX is another specialized marketplace, where the average hourly rate for WordPress development work ranges between $61-80 per hour worldwide.
If your search is limited to North America only, the average increases to between $81-100 per hour.
How and When Should You Pay a Freelance WordPress Developer?
This is a tricky question that can become even trickier if you haven’t partaken in a Client Contracts and Proposals Workshop. The last thing you want to do is leave the all-important payment details up in the air after the freelance project has already begun.
If you’re working directly with a freelancer (without going through a third-party marketplace), make sure that you’ve contractually agreed upon the terms of when payments are made to the freelancer throughout the progression of the project.
For example, maybe you’ve agreed that 25% of the total cost will be paid to the freelancer up-front, followed up another 25% to be paid at an agreed-upon milestone, with the remaining 50% to be paid when the project is completed.
If you’ve found your chosen freelancer through one of the many marketplaces detailed in this article, it’s important that you use that platform’s payment tools to compensate your freelancer for their work.
Many of these sites will require that your full payment for the project be deposited before the work begins. They will then hold your payment in escrow and release it to the freelancer at the milestone markers that you’ve agreed upon with the freelancer before the project begins.
Keep in mind that these freelance marketplaces make their profits by keeping a percentage of the overall cost that you pay for the project.
For example, if the total rate a freelancer charges you for the work they do is $1,000, you’ll need to pay that amount in full, while the freelancer will only receive, say, $940. The remaining $60 goes to the “house,” with the marketplace keeping it for services rendered.
To avoid this added fee, many freelancers and people looking to hire developers will try to work outside of the marketplace that first connected them. Doing so and getting caught, in most cases, will get you permanently banned from these marketplaces.
It’s always best to work within their rules in terms of best business practices, as well as your personal protection from the dangers of potential online scams.
Top 3 Places to Look for WP Developers
In case you don’t want to put up a job post and are looking into hiring an agency or actively look for ones yourself, here are a few places that you can look at:
Codeable is a great place to look for WordPress Developers and is among the most trustworthy platforms out there.
Each freelancer is carefully vetted to make sure that they are capable and experienced. You can find help with overall web design, plugin and customizations, and so much more.
WPRiders is a WordPress development agency. Unlike the other platforms on this list, they don’t let you hire specific freelancers but instead take you on as one of their clients.
With years of experience behind their back, it might be worth considering hiring them to take care of your overall WordPress needs. Be sure to check their service offering since they don’t necessarily just let you send in jobs that you need to get done.
You might have already heard of this platform. UpWork is one of the largest freelance platforms out there. They have freelancers for anything. Literally anything that you need. Most notably, WordPress developers. You have a gigantic pool of freelancers with their portfolio at the ready and you can communicate in-platform. The only thing that you have to take note of is that Upwork serves as an intermediary between all communications and payments.
What to Put in Your Job Post
If you’re on the part where you’re thinking about putting up a Job Post for potential WordPress developer candidates, here’s the most effective set of information to include.
- Job Title – You can put WordPress Developer or WordPress Designer, etc.
- Job Availability – Full-time, Part-time, Long-Term, Project-Based
- Salary – You don’t have to put the specific amount, you can indicate using symbols like, $, $$, $$$ or put a range based on their expertise.
- Job Description – Be very specific about the type of work that you want them to perform. Don’t just put in “Development Work”. The more specific you are, the easier it is to filter out people who can handle the work.
- About You or the Organization or the Project – It’s best that you give an introduction about your company or the project that you want them to work on so that you can further filter out those that are not interested or versed in the subject, or maybe can’t handle the job for personal reasons.
- Terms – Optionally, you can indicate the scope and terms of the job. The schedule, expected availability, the tools that are going to be used, and anything else that’s relevant.
- How to Apply – Most importantly, give specific instructions on how to apply. Most people looking for developers already use this as a test by hiding secret instructions like “Write Hamburger on the Subject Line on your application to make sure you read this.” Things like that can easily help you get those with a keen eye to detail.
And that’s it. Having those information in there can effectively already help you filter your applicant pool for your web developer position. If you’re not actively searching for a company or agency, but are looking for applicants, putting up a job post is the best way to do it.
Give Them a Trial Run
Now that we’ve talked about the top things to look for in WordPress Developer, you might be wondering how exactly are you going to test this?
Simple, give them a trial run.
If you have tens to hundreds of candidates lined up, talk to them individually and give them a short set of tasks on your interview where you can measure both their skill set and their soft skills.
Nothing fancy, just give them a testing environment and hand over the rules and set of 3 to 5 tasks that you want them to accomplish.
If it’s within the budget, make it a paid trial task. By the end of it, you’d get a pretty good idea of who’s the best fit for you and your business.
Work Quality Will Vary From Developer to Developer
As stated earlier in this article, no two WordPress developers are exactly alike. Every one has their own style, their own ideas, and their own individual way of working through complex projects.
In the freelance world, most freelancers don’t enjoy working with clients who try to hold their hands through every phase of the project. Freelancers are, in general, free thinkers who enjoy (and produce their best work) working on their own with only high-level instructions on where the project needs to go.
Of course, if your project is highly technologically detailed, they’ll need all of this information. But when it comes to the day-to-day processes, it’s best to hire a freelance developer that you trust to produce work that will exceed your expectations.
Also keep in mind that not one person who has had experience with hiring WordPress developers has ever batted 1.000 with their hiring decisions.
In other words, expect to be over-sold and under-delivered from time-to-time during any development process. Some hires are much better talkers than they are at executing the details of your project.
Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged when this happens to you. Pay the freelancer for the work they’ve done, then cut ties when it becomes the obvious thing to do. Move the project to a new freelancer until you’ve found the one that best fits the details of the project.
When You Find a Developer You Love, Keep Them
Having a knowledgable and reliable WordPress developer is a lot like having a good vehicle mechanic: When you find the right now, don’t let them go.
A great mechanic that works on your vehicle on a regular basis knows the ins and outs of it and knows exactly what it needs to run as optimally as possible.
A top-notch WordPress developer that you can work with over the long-term (even if they are not a direct employee) will already know what you’re trying to accomplish, and will know what it’s like to work with you.
When you’ve found one that you can count on, there’s no need to keep searching for new developers each and every time you need one. Go straight back to the one you love working with and develop a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with them.
Even if there are certain development projects that they aren’t qualified to handle, chances are they’ll be able to refer you to someone who can.
Hiring the Best WordPress Developer Can Be Simple
Depending on your needs and situation, most of the time the best avenue would be to hire a WordPress deveeloper who can create and manage your website for you at the fraction of the time that it would take you to learn the skill yourself.
Especially if you have a business to run or a service to attend to.
With that in mind, it always pays to do your research and make sure that the person that you’re hiring is vetted, tested, and experienced. Otherwise, it might not end up being the experience you were looking for.
Perhaps you’ve heard certain horror stories about colleagues that have hired a WordPress developer and ended up with work that was unusable. Or maybe you’ve overpaid someone in the past to do work for you that you could have easily done for yourself.
The truth is that you can find some of the best WordPress developers in the world on the resources and sites discussed in this article. And now that you know the right questions to ask and the expectations you should have, you’re well on your way to finding the perfect WordPress developer for your upcoming projects.
We hope you’ve learned a lot from this list and feel free to leave some comments below if you have any questions about how to hire a WordPress developer.
Kristen has been writing WordPress tutorials since 2011. Kristen also enjoys journaling, hiking and camping, step aerobics, cooking, and daily adventures with her family, hoping to live a more present life.