When and How to Outsource WordPress Development Effectively
Are you a WordPress professional?
My guess is you are pretty good at what you do and that’s why your customers like to work with you.
Do you ever feel like you are overloaded with work, but not enough time to get it all finished? Welcome to the club!
After reading this you will have a much better understanding about ‘when’ it’s appropriate for you, as a WordPress guru, to outsource some or all of the development layer of your project.
I’m also going to give you some tips for effectively communicating your needs to developers so you get it right the first time.
Do you really need to hire someone?
Your time is valuable.
If you are NOT a code monkey, chances are you would be better served to pay someone else to handle the code.
If you ARE a code monkey, you are capped with how many hours you can work in a day.
Outsourcing your development work can multiply your ‘hourly’ availability.
• How much of your time is it worth to solve a problem?
• Can you actually get paid for all of that time?
• Charge more per hour/project for development than it costs you to pay someone to do it.
Are you building your own WordPress site?
If so, it’s probably worth finding a Local WordPress developer you can meet with.
They are easier to qualify, though may cost more per hour(not necessarily per project)
I do not recommend going through Elance, UpWork(ODesk), Craigslist, etc.
There is a much greatly likelihood of receiving poor work, losing money, and having a headache.
Try things yourself. Many things you CAN do, just save the ‘tough stuff’ for your developer.
Are you building a WordPress business?
This normally requires a longer term relationship than a one off project.
Outsourcing does not have to be ‘over seas’. It can be as simple as hiring a developer part or full time.
You are ‘outsourcing’ or ‘offloading’ the work to someone else.
Sites like Elance, UpWork, and Craigslist become a better option though you need to qualify these workers.
If I can do it, why should I outsource development? I’ll lose money.
As a freelance WordPress professional, I’m confident that you’ve found yourself wearing many more hats that whatever your specialty is.
In a typical website project, we have the following layers:
NOTE: I’ve included ‘titles’ for professionals at each level.
- Discovery (Strategist)
- Design (Graphic Designer)
- Development (Web Developer)
- Deployment (Web Developer)
- Marketing (Sales, Social Media, PPC, etc)
When was the last time you met someone that absolutely crushed it at each of these elements?
Even though we specialize in one of those areas, as a freelancer, we often find ourselves doing, or managing each of the additional layers so that we can ‘run our own business’.
If you are satisfied already managing each of these layers, this post is not for you.
For everyone else, it’s time to learn to delegate!
Delegation is KEY to Growth
Even though you might think so, your customers most likely could care less who does the actual work you are promising them. All they care about is the final product, and that it meets their expectations.
Step one is for you to figure out where your skill set fits best in the process, and then find other trusted professionals to handle the rest for you.
Let’s say for example you are an amazing Project Manager, and you are completely capable of setting up a WordPress site from start to finish using existing Themes and Plugins.
Do you really need to hire someone to help?
That depends on the budget, but more often than not, your time is worth a lot more per ‘hour’ than what you could pay someone to do some of these tasks for you.
When it might take you an entire evening to fight through some CSS changes, or rubbing your eyes while trying to add a ‘simple’ function to your theme, it could take a developer 30 minutes or less to knock that out for you.
If you are worth $50/hour, and you spend 4 hours trying to make a change, wouldn’t it be wiser to pay someone $20/hour to take care of it in 1 hour or less?
Your time is valuable! The less of your time spent on doing the work opens more time up for finding new projects and building your business.
How to find a “good” developer
Finding a developer that is in your price range that you can communicate with easily and doesn’t flake out on you can be tough.
I’ve heard horror stories from many customers that worked with developers in the past that communicated poorly, couldn’t do what they say, or even left in the middle of finishing projects.
So how do you avoid that?
I recommend staying away from these places(I’m sure you’ve heard of them)
While you can certainly find cheap labor there, qualifying this labor is much harder than working directly with a company that specializes in development.
If you do choose to use those sites, make sure to require specific answers in their reply(this will help you qualify them, if they do not add these to their reply, immediately pass on them), as well as read reviews from others that have worked with them.
If most reviews say their communication was excellent and the team completed the project as required, this is good, otherwise, stay away.
As an alternative to these single project type sites, I recommend a Development Company.
Do a Google search right now for “WordPress Developers”, then a search for “WordPress Development Companies”.
You’ll see a huge difference in results. The first will show the sites mentioned above and other resources for developers.
The other will show results for actual companies that specialize in WordPress work. PHP, MYSQL, and all the other goodies that go along with it. WordPress development companies are often going to have a larger staff that specializes in coding WordPress sites.
The benefits here are enormous. You’ll usually get a Project Manager to work with directly, who has several developers under them. Let’s say you have a hard deadline, and your developer gets sick. If you are working with an individual, you are screwed. If you are working with a company, they’ll most likely have several developers that can step in and take over.
How do I know a company is good?
When scouting for a good company, ask for some reference sites, and take a look at their work. Ask to see project requirements, and final websites that they have completed.
You’ll be able to tell right away what their attention to detail looks like.
WordPress offers some great guidelines to follow when building sites, and some tools to check that out.
Do they use well-structured, error-free PHP and valid HTML? See WordPress Coding Standards.
Do they use clean, valid CSS? See CSS Coding Standards.
Do they follow design guidelines in Site Design and Layout?
If you’ve found a company that is up to snuff, give them a small trial project just to see how you work together. Keep it very cheap, and if you can, try not to let them work on something important. You might even give them a project that has already been completed, just to see how they do on their own.
Delivering work requests the right way
If you’ve ever worked with ‘developers’ in the past, I’m sure you’ve noticed that they often speak another language than most people, and I don’t just mean from country to country, but just the way they think and speak.
Developers are often very logical and analytic with their thoughts and spoken word. This is why it’s rare to find someone that is good at Development AND good at Design work. It’s two different parts of the brain.
To communicate effectively, I use the following best practices.
Taking a little more time up front to be clear and concise with will save a lot of time down the road.
- Unless something is WELL DEFINED & IMPORTANT, no one should do it.
This means, if we(developers) do not have all necessary details including account login, a clear description of the issue or request, including screenshots, written description, etc, we shouldn’t not begin work.
If there is any discrepancies or missing information, most often we will return to you asking for these details directly, causing more back and forth and more time to be consumed.
- Sentences should have one possible interpretation and be suitable for a 2nd grade reading level.
This one is HUGE. Especially if you are working with developers who’s first language is not your own language, keeping it simple and clear will help to ensure they do what you are asking, and not what they think you are asking.
Before sending any request to your developer, be sure to re read it. Do not just rattle off at the fingers, make every word count, and use basic, simple language.
- Will someone who has never been to this website know Where to Go, and What to Do after reading the task?
This is my favorite one.
In your head, what you are asking might make sense, but for someone who doesn’t have any idea about your business, your website, or your goals, it probably doesn’t.
With my own team, we do not always have the same person working on the same projects over time. The project manager might change, the developer might change, and we have systems in place to make sure we are covered on our end.
Proper commenting in code, documented functionality, archives of previous work requests, etc.
When sending your work requests over, include screenshots, number the areas of the page, use numbered lists to describe, etc
Work Request Outline
Here is the exact outline that I give to our customers who send over work requests regularly. Having them follow this method has eliminated over 50% of the ‘back and forth’, which is extremely time consuming… so we both save time.
Include the following:
URL: URL to page with issue
Device: Desktop, Tablet, Mobile, or All?
Long Description: As many specific details as possible, include deadline
Attachments: (images, documents, etc)
A good work request looks something like this.
So what’s your next step?
Take into account the value of your own time. You may be the best of the best, but if you want to keep your business flowing, it’s important to delegate tasks that can save YOU time, which will save you money.
Qualify development Companies or other freelancers by checking their work. Give them a small, cheap, project to work out to test out their communication skills and how they fit into your work flow.
Deliver your requests in clear, simple language that is easy for people with basic understanding of the language to understand.
Don’t be afraid of delegating your work load. If done correctly, you’ll find that it opens up your time to focus on what you are passionate about and good at.
Remember, your customers don’t care who does the work, they just want it done the right way the first time.
Communication is your friend. Always ask questions and confirm solutions, and you’ll be good to go!
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