When most people build a website, they generally wait until something goes wrong before they call for help. This is especially true with WordPress. Given the ease of install and modification, non-technical users can make lots of changes and tweaks without a dedicated developer. However, when things go wrong, the easy facade falls away and you are left staring at PHP, CSS and HTML code. At this point you might understandably be asking yourself, “Just what have I gotten myself into… Maybe I should call someone.”
Unfortunately, once something has gone wrong, a developer has to unwind what the customer has done. This usually costs a lot of time and money, often as much as you would have been charged to have the developer build the site from the start.
This is because the developer is coming in blind, with now way of knowing what the customer did and why. Retracing these steps with the client can often feel like an interrogation for someone who is already embarrassed at breaking this WordPress thing everyone said was easy. It’s a painful, uncomfortable and expensive process that nobody likes, but what is the alternative?
You basically have three choices when you start a project:
- Do it all yourself.
- Hire the developer as a consultant.
- Hire the developer to do it all.
If you have been reading this series since the beginning, you have a pretty good idea of the pitfalls involving in doing it all yourself. Any time you spend working on a website is time you are not spending on your business. Price out what your time is worth to you and make the call. If all you have is time and no money it could be the only way to go. Be aware of the issues and patient with your progress. This is tricky stuff and you will not get it all overnight.
The second option is to use the developer as a consultant. You can do this by paying for an hour or two of a developers time to walk through your website needs with them. Build a plan together that you can accomplish and ask the necessary questions before you start your project. Plan for at least one more hour for later on when something goes boom. This will shorten some of the time you need to get rolling and give you a safety net when something goes wrong. There are, however, a few caveats to this route.
- Don’t expect free advice. The developer has already priced out what their time is worth to them. If it’s not worth that to you, find another developer. Don’t take it personally and ask for recommendations. Developers will often have people they farm smaller jobs out to.
- Take notes on what you are doing as you put the site together. This gives the developer a road map to follow if something goes boom. The will also help you ensure that you are following the correct directions you laid out with the developer in your first meeting.
- This is still going to take a lot of time on your part. If you are not paying the developer to build the site, you cannot expect them to be “on call” for you. Most developers will answer reasonable questions via email, but when it starts to get out of hand don’t be surprised if the developer wishes to be compensated for the time.
These 3 caveats will give you and the consulting developer a much smoother consulting relationship and help yield a successful project for both of you.
The final option is, of course, to pay the developer to build a website for you from the start. While this is the more expensive of your 3 options, you are paying for the experience level of the developer, the knowledge and skill they bring to the table. Developers enjoy this kind of thing and they can bring that joy to a website project. The developers goal is to build something they are proud of and that you want to show off to potential new customers. It’s how we stay in business and afford all of those video games that we love.
This is the win – win situation for both of us. Trust me on this.