How to find the right WordPress Development Agency
Greg Macdonald - LWDA Team Member

GREG MACDONALD

Project Manager

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June 18, 2021

How to find the right WordPress Development Agency

There are bad WordPress Development agencies, there are good WordPress Development agencies. There are cheap WordPress developers and expensive WordPress developers. The trick is finding the right one for you. The one that is affordable and competent.

In this article, we hope to help you find the best type of WordPress developer for your requirements.

We will look at different types of WordPress development agency, how they work and why they work in particular ways.

First of all, we need to establish why you need a WordPress developer and what your expectations are.

Why do you need a WordPress Developer?

Presumably, you have a WordPress site that is in need of some attention, so you need a good WordPress developer that can make the required changes.

Changes may include:

  1. Adding new pages with unique content structure
  2. Adding new functions and integrations (such as Mailchimp, booking systems, etc)
  3. Fixing navigational bugs
  4. Fixing site speed issues
  5. Improving SEO

We hear from many companies about these requirements, and when we do, our first task is to find out more about the history of the website.

Knowing a website’s history is pivotal to helping a developer understand how much work may be involved when updating your website.

The main reason for this is that there may have been several developers involved throughout the years, which can result in very messy code.

A developer can take a long time to decipher this code before they can even contemplate making changes. This can result in higher fees.

Different developers code in different ways. Some can be very sloppy (hacking their way to a solution), others create great code that is minimal & fast loading. The rest simply rely too heavily on plugins which can cause more problems than they are supposed to fix, not to mention the security risks!

Either way, any WordPress development agency that is contemplating helping you with your site will need to know a little history before they can give you a good quote for the work, so have this to hand when talking to developers.

An accurate brief means an accurate quote

Creating an accurate brief that details the changes you require is the next task for you to complete before talking to a developer.

Without a well-written brief, it will be very hard for a developer to quote accurately. You may get quotes that are too high (the developer is being over-cautious) or too low (they have underestimated the scope of the job). In both cases, it will be hard to compare your quotes on any level other than cost alone.

It’s often the case that the cheapest quote wins the work. This quote can be based on hourly or daily rates, monthly contracts or a per-job basis.

An agency with a low hourly rate may take twice as long to complete a job as an agency with a higher rate and may also prove harder to work with, so if you can provide a detailed brief for your requirements, you have a much better chance of finding the right development agency for you.

Once you have your brief, you can start the process of finding a suitable WordPress developer for your site.

Different types of WordPress development company

There are several types of WordPress development company operating today, ranging from the cheap & cheerful through to high-end website developers. Each will have its pros & cons depending upon your requirements and budget.

Freelance WordPress Developers

OK, so not technically a company, but freelancers are often sought to fix issues on a website because they are presumed to be cheaper than an agency.

Some freelancers – including those found on Behance and UpWork – can be very good value and produce great work, but there are downsides to hiring freelancers. Here are some pros & cons:

Freelancer Pros

  1. Can often be cheaper than an agency, but this depends upon experience. Many highly experienced freelance developers can easily charge as much if not more than an agency.
  2. Are open to working outside of usual office hours, although you may pay a premium for rush requests.

Freelancer Cons

  1. You’ll need to vet your freelancer carefully. Do they have a good portfolio of outstanding work and are they responsible for all of the work in their folio or just elements?
  2. Can they provide a list of references from established clients? Are they happy for you to contact them?
  3. Will they take responsibility for site issues that relate to previous developers? Fix one issue and another appears. Who’s to blame? Your new freelancer or the previous developer?
  4. Freelancers can decide to seek full-time employment at any time, ditching the freelance lifestyle and leaving you in need of a new developer.

The key question here is; are you willing to potentially move from freelancer to freelancer during the lifetime of your website, or are you looking for stability?

Consider our comments regarding multiple developers and how this can impact the quality of the code on your side.

If any of the above points are a concern, you may prefer to seek the security of employing a dedicated WordPress agency to handle your website requirements.

Digital Outsourcing Agency

This type of WordPress development agency operates with the ‘pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ ethos.

Often based overseas – likely in India and the Far East – digital outsourcing agencies can offer their services at very competitive rates because their local wages are lower than those in the UK and other more developed countries.

Vast sales teams spend all day every day trawling the net, including social media platforms such as LinkedIn, trying to find development opportunities. The developers themselves are only hired on a project-by-project basis.

Prices are dictated by a range of factors but are often based upon the seniority of the developer (junior, middle-weight, senior) and how much they charge for that level of experience.

Outsourcing Agency Pros

  1. They’re Cheap. If you are on a very tight budget, you may find opportunities with this type of agency.
  2. They will say yes to anything. Remember, these companies are based around sales, so they’ll never turn away work. Meaning that no matter how messy your site may have become, there will always be someone who’ll take on the challenge of fixing it.

Outsourcing Agency Cons

  1. Lack of personal service – They may try, but they’re unlikely to be able to offer a truly personal service, so getting the same developer every time you have a request and building a good working relationship with that individual is highly unlikely.
  2. Language Barriers – Sometimes it hard enough explaining what you want to achieve when it comes to technology, let alone when you are discussing things with someone whose first language is not your own. Clear communication is key to a project’s success.
  3. Time difference – It can be troublesome working with an agency that is anything from 4-8 hours behind or ahead of you, sometimes resulting in a simple tweak often taking a full day to be made.
  4. You get what you pay for – So, yes, they may be cheap, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll have a good experience. They will charge more for absolutely anything that falls outside of the original brief. If they feel that have fulfilled the project requirements, then it’s a case of ‘job done’.

Although we’re sure that there are instances of very successful relationships with these companies, we have heard of too many negative experiences from clients who have tried this approach and then wished they had paid more for an agency that at least had project managers and a dedicated team based in the UK.

High-end WordPress developers

There’s a high chance that you have already experimented with freelancers or have tried outsourcing your development requirements to an overseas agency, and now feel that it’s time to work with a high-end WordPress development agency.

Your requirements are not just purely site-based. They now include the need to work with a team that is local, can accommodate complex challenges and have a vision that extends beyond your immediate needs.

This is where we position ourselves at LWDA.

As a web design & WordPress development agency based in London, we pride ourselves on producing bespoke, fast & secure sites for our clients which are tailored to their exact needs.

High-end web development agencies strive to develop long-lasting relationships that are based upon common goals and the desire to see your company flourish. These are not the only pros…

High-end WordPress Developer Pros

  1. Expert knowledge – By employing a specialist WordPress development agency you will be gaining access to years of experience in that field.
  2. Honest consultancy – An outsourcing agency will just agree to do what you want them to do without question, but high-end web developers will always suggest alternative solutions that may be more appropriate and deliver better results.
  3. Personal service – You’ll deal with a dedicated project manager and where appropriate with the developer themselves. This would not change for as long as you are a client.
  4. Local service – Being able to meet your project manager face-to-face can often make such a huge difference to the relationship and how you feel about a project. And even if you are not based in London, at least you operate in the same time zone and have Skype and Zoom calls at sensible times of the day.
  5. Will aim to build a lasting relationship – High-end development agencies take pride in their work and wish to build strong bonds with their clients. They’ll check in with you to see how things are going and make suggestions based on new technologies that may benefit your business.

High-end WordPress Developer Cons

  1. May not accept every job – Agencies that operate at the higher end will be honest with regards to the types of work they will and won’t do, focusing their attention on projects that more closely align with the rest of their portfolio.
  2. Unlikely to be cheap – Agencies such as LWDA will not compete on price alone. Preferring to obtain a balance between a sensible budget and a good level of service, which includes skillset, knowledge of the technologies required and tangible results.

As an agency that creates bespoke WordPress themes for our clients, we usually do not like to get involved with projects that have already been through multiple hands.

We prefer to work with clients to create a brand new platform that is truly fit for purpose, rather than patch up an old off-the-shelf theme that is potentially full of security holes and requires a lot of ongoing maintenance.

Having said that, if you do have a long-term view that involves creating a new website, but are looking for short-term fixes to your existing site, then drop us a line. We’re always happy to discuss potential solutions.

In summary

As with all things in life, when it comes to hiring a WordPress developer, it’s a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.

Your budget will dictate the type of developer you can afford and the quality of results.

But before you start to find a developer, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and help you gauge which option is the best for you.

  1. Prepare a detailed brief for the developer so that they can quote accurately for the job.
  2. Once you have written the brief, take a look at the amount of work and try to consider what budget you are prepared to assign to the project. Consider the true value of the website as a whole and not just the required task.
  3. With the approximate budget in mind, consider if this falls in line with either a freelancer (low-hundreds), outsourcing agency (mid-hundreds) or a dedicated high-end web development agency (high-hundreds +).

If you feel that you need to upgrade your developer requirements, just be prepared to invest a little more budget than you are used to.

The keyword here is Invest.

It’s highly possible that your website is your main marketing tool, so why risk potential downtime, broken links, broken enquiry forms and other catastrophic outcomes from using the wrong outfit for the job?

We know it’s not easy picking a good development agency. We’ve heard the horror stories and talked to many clients that have been burned in the past by low skilled developers who have produced sub-standard work.

If you’re tired of moving from developer to developer and are looking to build a solid relationship with a skilled WordPress development agency, drop us a line at LWDA and we’ll be more than happy to your requirements.

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