WordPress is the biggest content management system in the world, used for everything from personal blogs to the most visited sites on the internet.
There currently are 55,142 WordPress plugins and more than 31,000 WordPress themes available, so it’s no wonder why WordPress is the number one choice for running a blog.
With such statistics, it’s also no surprise that there’s an ocean of WordPress developers available for hire. So how do you choose one, and what do you look for when outsourcing WordPress development?
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WordPress developers versus programmers or designers
There are lots of great WordPress maintenance providers out there, but what if you’re ready to take things to the next level and want to enhance your existing WordPress website with advanced features and functionality? Or do you want to develop an entirely unique WordPress website with a custom design?
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When to hire a WordPress developer
A WordPress developer is basically a “WordPress architect”, or someone who builds or helps to build WordPress websites. A developer suggests and comes up with ideas, helps implement and set up solutions, as well as integrates and modifies things.
Let’s say for example that you run an ecommerce business and need to add a checkout functionality to your website, so you go ahead and hire a WordPress developer.
The developer will then suggest and advise you on the best way to implement a system that meets your needs.
They might recommend installing a premium plugin that they’ll configure for you, or they might recommend coding a custom checkout system specifically for your needs.
If there are design changes to be made anywhere on the site, they might recommend you use a ready-made template and help you configure it. Alternatively, they might suggest you need to commission a custom design job and help you find a designer.
Developers sometimes do their own coding and design work, and sometimes they let others do the actual coding and design. A good developer should know when a job necessitates custom work and when it doesn’t.
If they’re clever about cutting your costs, they might recommend a solution that involves no custom coding, for example, using a combination of ready-made premium plugins and code. Think of WordPress developers primarily as architects and visionaries. They think about the big picture and the optimal way to accomplish any goal.
When to hire a WordPress programmer
A WordPress programmer is nothing but a general programmer who has some experience with the specific requirements and code used inside the WordPress ecosystem.
If the developer is akin to an architect, the programmer is more akin to a general contractor.
In most cases, you would only need to work with a programmer directly if you’re very advanced at WordPress yourself and can simply instruct the coder on what lines to write.
Think of it as outsourcing the execution. For most people reading this, it is wiser to hire a developer and then let the developer make the decisions. Let them decide if any coding needs to be done in the first place. For a lot of WordPress projects, it’s actually better and cheaper to use (or tweak) existing WordPress plugins and themes.
This is a general designer who happens to know the specifics of turning a design concept into an actual WordPress theme that you can install. If you are merely looking to refresh the “look and feel” of a WordPress website without changing any of its functionality, then hiring a WordPress designer will suffice.
Do it yourself
A lot of people consider this option instead of hiring a WordPress developer, especially as WordPress seems so easy on the surface.
You can install themes with a few clicks, and any of the 55,000 plugins can add functionality without the need for coding.
While this might be an option for technically savvy computer users who have some time on their hands, it’s usually not a great overall option for regular business people looking to get a great WordPress site up.
The reason is that all of the themes and plugins require reading the documentation to properly configure them. The more advanced your site, the more likely you are to run into issues as you start to combine multiple plugins or edit the theme files.
There’s a lot of trial and error with WordPress. Getting comfortable combining multiple WordPress plugins into a more complex site requires hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of learning.
A professional WP developer has already gone through the many trials and tribulations of trying to figure out WordPress development. Focus on what you are good at (often, it’s coming up with the ideas) and leave the implementation to actual developers. Read our guide on how to hire good developers here.
Where to look for great WordPress developers
There are many ways to find a developer, and there are myriad strategies to vet them by quality, price, and availability. Unfortunately, this abundance of choice is precisely what makes the process so complex, difficult, and confusing. It’s hard to know where to get started and how.
While in theory there are thousands of ways to find the right developer, in practice there are four major paths
1) Utilizing freelancer websites and job boards
You can find a lot of WordPress developers on all of the regular online jobs marketplaces, such as Hubstaff Talent. But because WordPress is such a popular platform, you can find more focused job boards.
Below, we have listed some specific marketplaces and job boards to look for WordPress developers. If you prefer to use a general freelance marketplace, we have a great guide comparing freelance websites and the best practices with them.
Smashing Jobs is one of the best known web development publications. It is read by a lot of expert web developers, especially those who are focused on WordPress. It costs $75 to post a 60-day job posting for a WordPress freelancer for short term work, or $225 for a 60-day ad if you wish to hire a longer term developer.
What about visiting the official WordPress job board? Every WordPress development expert knows about this website, which means that you can easily find someone who will complete your project for you.
If you’re interested in a platform that specializes in WordPress developers, you will love WP Hired. This website features every kind of job related to WordPress, including development and design. The best part about this website is that you can hire a WordPress developer without having to pay a fee.
2) Asking for recommendations and references
Finding a web developer for the first time can be difficult because you might not know where to start.
Why not cut the trial and error by just asking people to recommend the right person? It’s best if you have friends who have hired out a lot of WordPress work, as they will feel obliged to give you good recommendations.
In a sense, the person making a recommendation is taking a risk with their reputation, so they have a stake in making sure to recommend someone you’ll be happy with.
If you don’t have a friend who’s had to hire a WordPress developer or two, the second best option is to browse around the web and find websites you like. Make a good list of websites that you admire, either for their functionality or design aesthetic.
If you want to know which websites use WordPress, just install the chrome extension called “Page X-Ray.” When you visit websites online, your toolbar will flash a WordPress logo if the site being viewed is a WordPress site.
Next, go through the list and feel free to dig around the footers to find out who developed the website for them. If the website in question is not a competitor, you might even contact the owners and ask them who did their WordPress development for them.
Consider developers who are respected in your local community
If you prefer being able to meet up with your developer, you might consider asking around your local community. Find out who the most respected people in your area are.
You will probably get a lower price than if you deal with international WordPress superstars, but you are also likely to get someone who has a lower amount of WordPress-specific experience.
3) Development agencies
Another good option is to look into WordPress design agencies. While this option is more expensive, it’s also the most straightforward. If you happen to have a budget for it, consider hiring one of these highly acclaimed WordPress development agencies:
4) Special staffing sites: The best of all worlds
All of the traditional strategies for hiring a WordPress developer have their flaws. Agencies can require a significant investment and have long timelines. Using recommendations might produce a few leads. And using freelancer websites might just lead to an overwhelming amount of applicants, and prove more trouble than it’s worth.
“What if there was a way to get the best of freelancers, agencies and personalized recommendations all in one place?”
As it turns out, this is possible with special staffing sites. These special places connect contractors and organizations through a process of strict referral. A random freelancer cannot simply register by him or herself, they have to be personally vouched for or proven to the organization.
Check out Hubstaff Talent for one such staffing solution.
The best freelance WordPress developers
To kick off your search, we found the top WordPress developers so you can see what professional sites look like and get a baseline understanding of skills available.
What makes these pros different from regular WordPress developers is their extensive and impressive background in the WordPress community.
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Bill Erickson is an incredibly talented freelance WordPress developer who has worked for large clients like the University of Cambridge, Pearson, Sotheby’s, Honda, and Yoast to create dynamic and completely custom websites.
He focuses on the whole site-building process, and is able to see a project from discovery to design and through to development.
Bill is also incredibly active in the community and has created 20 plugins with combined downloads exceeding 560,000. Beyond this, Bill is also a leading WordPress teacher, and has created 92 web tutorials, and 221 code snippets.
He has a $5,000 minimum spend requirement, and you can find out more about him on his personal website.
Kristin has over 16 years of experience working in website development. She developed her first website at age 16.
She is a talented developer and is able to convert PSD files into WordPress sites, and also design custom WordPress themes.
She has worked on custom sites for AT&T, Sony Music, Toms, and Toyota.
Kristin’s portfolio, skills, and contact details can be viewed on her personal website.
Yaron is an incredibly talented WordPress developer who lists MedAdaptics, “an algorithmic, response-guided, cloud-based medication therapy system for cancer patients,” as his most impressive project.
With seven years of WordPress experience, and a Computer Science degree from Yale University, Yaron is a skilled developer who is able to work on a variety of complex projects.
Beyond his freelance skills, he has co-founded an enterprise cloud application and organizes community WordPress meetups.
Based in San Diego, you can learn more about Yaron on his website.
Based in London, England, Keith is a talented developer who is able to work on both design and development projects, and handle a project from idea to completion.
With a network of designers and developers at his disposal, Keith is able to assemble teams for more advanced projects that require multiple contractors.
He has experience working with large companies like Addison Lee and Cycling Weekly, as well as other small and independent businesses.
You can learn more about Keith, or get in touch with him to discuss a project, from his personal website.
Amber is a WordPress developer who specializes in taking sites from pure designs and coding them into beautiful websites. With an in-depth knowledge of the latest technologies, including HTML5, CSS3, and the newest versions of WordPress, Amber is able to tackle a wide range of projects.
Unlike other freelance developers who work with large organizations, Amber typically works with design agencies or other freelancers to provide websites for clients and independent businesses.
Learn more about Amber by visiting her website.
Both a WordPress developer and designer, Jay specializes in creating custom sites for small- to medium-sized businesses. He runs a small agency based in Poland and is able to draw on the talents of other programmers and designers to help facilitate larger projects.
His independent agency has delivered over 270 websites for clients, and you can discover more at his website.
Tom specializes in WordPress and Shopify themes, and is a talented front- and backend developer.
He has worked with clients from across the world, from Stockholm to Sydney, and offers WordPress development, consultancy, front-end development, and website design services.
Learn more about Tom on his website.
He has worked on a variety of projects for different companies, from individuals and small businesses to large companies like Ticketmaster and Penguin Books.
Andy is based in the UK, at the heart of London’s startup scene, Shoreditch. You can learn more about Andy on his website.
With plugin creation as his speciality, James is a skilled WooCommerce and WordPress developer who has created community plugins with over 23,000 downloads.
He is able to create custom plugins for independent businesses, and you can learn more on his website.
Developing websites since 2004, Brett has delivered over 114 custom sites to clients and has a 92% client return rate.
Specializing in WordPress development, hosting, design, and plugin development, Brett runs a small WordPress agency in Colorado where he works primarily with small- to medium-sized businesses.
A freelance designer and developer based in Brisbane, Australia, Nicholas specializes in creating responsive WP sites that are search engine optimized.
Nicholas works to build sites for his clients around his full-time job as a growth marketer at an Australian startup.
Luke is a freelance WordPress designer and developer who also works with HTML, CSS, Photoshop, jQuery, PHP, and Adobe Illustrator.
He typically creates custom WordPress sites for small businesses and has a range of clients from across the world, many of whom rate him highly.
With the ability to create tailored, responsive sites with custom post types, and work with WooCommerce, Luke is a developer suited to creating business sites and blogs.
Once you have hired a WordPress developer
Once you have found and hired the right candidate for you, it is important to manage them effectively, so that you can make sure that they are as productive and as efficient as possible.
Time tracking and developer management
In many cases, you’ll need an easy way to keep track of your developers’ hours and pay them accordingly.
Apps such as Hubstaff allow you to do all that, plus view in-depth reports, issue invoices, and track time by specific tasks.
If you find your WordPress developer on Hubstaff Talent, using Hubstaff to track time is even easier as they’ll be familiar with the product and can start tracking right away.