When I’m hired to customize or fix a website that’s on life support, it’s never a pretty sight. These small businesses used price and speed as their primary criteria for choosing a web designer/developer/platform, and ended up with “throw-away” websites. Here are 5 things to avoid when buying a new custom WordPress website.
#1. Sloppy Coding
Hiring a sloppy, inexperienced web developer may initially save your small business $1,000 to $2,000 or more on your new website. However, it will probably cost you twice as much when you hire an expert to fix his work and/or make future modifications.
You see, good developers generally expect to find certain things in certain places. If your previous developer carelessly or intentionally shuffled the deck, it’s going to take a lot longer for a developer to find; troubleshoot; modify; and/or recreate those pieces later.
Try reading a book with chapters and pages that are completely out of order, and scattered throughout your office, and you’ll know what I mean.
#2. No Coding
Hire a WordPress web designer who can’t code and/or wants to save time, and he’ll probably employ a “user-friendly” Theme and/or plugin with a “no coding required” interface that assists with the creation of page templates and other plug-and-play functionality. Examples: Divi, Enfold, Visual Composer.
As a designer, I love the idea of “no coding required”. But as a developer, it’s a nightmare because it means more work, which generally translates to you paying more to get your site customized.
Either I break the “no coding required” functionality, so that I can work much faster and with greater precision using real coding tools, or I spend twice as much time attempting to do the work via a non-standard interface— if the customization can be done that way.
#3. No Designing
Save thousands of dollars by hiring a WordPress web developer who can’t design, and he’ll probably use a predesigned, developer-friendly Theme that is nicely coded (thankfully), and looks great off the shelf.
But when asked to customize the appearance of a predesigned theme, the visual design begins to disintegrate.
You’ll also want to know if your developer intends to modify the WordPress dashboard as a result of any customization work, to make sure your website will still be easy for you (not him) to manage and edit.
#4. Your Design
If you don’t design and/or develop websites for a living, there has never been a worse time to start. Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have opinions about what you’d like your website to look like— I’m talking about designing the entire site and expecting your web developer to do things that don’t translate very well to the web. In this case, expect to pay considerably more for your website— not less.
For example, fixed-width pages and Adobe Flash interactivity are long gone in the world of web design. That’s because your visitors are using smartphones, tablets, and maybe even wristwatches someday, to visit your website.
This means a single web page has at least 3-5 different layout variations that you probably neglected to plan for (or may not know how to plan for).
#5. Your Process
Companies and individuals with much louder voices and different motives than my own have taught you to believe that buying, launching, and maintaining a website for your small business is as simple and as inexpensive as buying a pair of shoes. In fact, it is infinitely more complex.
When a designer/developer tells you it’s going to take 3 weeks and X dollars to complete a task, and you insist on getting it done within 1 week, and at 1/3 the cost, the guy or gal you hire must cut corners like the ones I mentioned above to survive.
Follow my process— the one that took me 20 years of continuous refinement, and your website will get done faster, cheaper, and better than if we follow yours.
In my next post, I’ll provide some insight into my new Website Audit service, that will help you determine if your website is worth fixing and/or worth further customization (versus starting over).