Questions to ask your WordPress developer

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Questions to ask your WordPress developer

It is part of my ongoing mission to help with customer education in the digital arena. Unfortunately, confusion and misinformation abounds. There are still plenty of companies and individuals jumping on the digital bandwagon without really knowing what they’re doing. They’ve all got to start somewhere, sure. But it is good to be open and honest. If they’re really print designers learning how to deliver web solutions, they need to be honest about it. Our industry is absolutely *desperate* for some openness and honesty!

So, as a customer, you’ve worked up your new website project brief. Now all you need to do is find that perfect digital partner to deliver on the project. Simples, right? Well, unless you have an existing supplier you know and trust, this can be a minefield.

To aid you in this process, I have compiled a list of some questions you can ask your prospective supplier. These questions are tailored towards a project that will be delivered using WordPress. I feel this is a good example to choose, firstly because WordPress is so widely used, and secondly, because it is so widely mis-used!

Here are some questions you can ask…

  • How will you ensure the test version of my website doesn’t get found and indexed by google?
  • What is your approach to choosing reliable and secure wordpress plugins? (Look for any sensible answers related to checking the recency of the plugin updates or the reputation of the plugin author)
  • Can you build WordPress themes from scratch? If so, may I see some examples? (If they can’t, then just be aware that their capabilities may be limited)
  • Do you use WP_DEBUG mode when you develop new WordPress themes? (answer should be yes)
  • What is your suggestion for on-going WordPress core and plugin upgrades? Can I just upgrade everything myself? (If they care about supporting you longer term, telling you that you can upgrade everything yourself may be a little negligent. Upgrades can break sites, this is always a risk. A proper upgrade protocol is recommended unless you’re happy to live with a broken site for a few days/weeks while the incompatibilities are fixed)
  • If there are a lot of different content blocks on a page, how will you make these editable for me in the WordPress backend? (Look for answers involving custom post types or plugins such as Advanced Custom Fields which make editing complex pages easier)
  • If we use WordPress are we limiting what we can do on the design? (Answer should be no! WordPress itself is never a limiting factor)
  • What kind of performance tuning can you offer for WordPress? (You’re just looking for a bit of reassurance in their answer here. Anything along the lines of keeping the number of plugins down to a minimum, or optimising CSS/JS code, or even performance testing tools they may use. This is really a question designed to see if they *ever* think about performance)

That’s my list for now. Can you think of any more? Please add them to the comments below. I highly value your feedback.

Now if you’re looking for a WordPress supplier and struggling to find one you think you can work with, feel free to drop me an email ( As an experienced technical director and web technologist, I can help you in the selection process as an impartial consultant / adviser. I obviously work within a digital agency myself, so I know how things work.

Let me know if you’d like to chat further over a coffee. I’m buying!

  • Matt Royce

    Leave reply
    November 21, 2013

    I agree with most of these questions, to an extent. However, I don’t necessarily agree with the WP_DEBUG one. I have three environments for any websites I work one: local, development and production. Production has no error output except to the Apache logs; development has some error outputting (e.g. only fatal errors); and local has E_ALL defined so I can catch everything.

    Whilst I agree with your post, clients should be cautious about their developers and make sure they can confirm their abilities; a couple of these are diving into the developer’s work environment which isn’t 100% necessary for the client to know.

    Overall, good post though. I’ll know a client has read this when they start asking me these!


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