Hiring a WordPress Developer, for most, is much like selecting a mechanic. At least if you’re like me, without a clue when it comes to the inner workings of the mysterious engine. Is this a good WordPress Developer? Will I hire him/her and never hear from them again? Will it be worth the investment?

Today we will be looking for a designer/developer who will:

  • create the design for the theme
  • develop the design in a child theme (Genesis Framework) – why?
  • install the design, including plugins and configuring everything to work as expected

Step One: List Your Needs

‘Business sites’ and ‘bloggers’ have different needs (see business needs here). We’ll stick to what most bloggers will be looking for:

  1. Easy to edit by a non-coder
  2. Excellent navigation on all devices
  3. Handles images well (sizing, optimizing and speed)
  4. Loads quickly on any device
  5. Secure
  6. Supports growth (speed and best practices) for the next 18 – 24 months
  7. Interacts well with ad networks (outside javascript)
  8. SEO optimized
  9. Social network optimized
  10. Call to Actions included

Step 2: Find a WordPress Developer

Most of you will not just go to upwork or fiverr to find a developer – and for good reason. The ones who do, come to me months later to fix their purchases.

Some of you will ask fellow bloggers and friends for recommendations. And others will ask in mastermind groups or Facebook Groups. However, in a Facebook Group, you’ll get 30+ replies to your query from hopeful entrepreneurs wanting to serve you.

I’ve listed 10 questions to review when deciding which WordPress designer/developer to hire.

Step 3: Portfolio & Testimonials

It isn’t worth interviewing anyone, if you don’t like their aesthetic, their use of white space, their font choices and color palettes. So check out the portfolio items until you’re satisfied and review the testimonials. I especially look for slightly imperfect testimonials where you can see the honest truth.

For example, the experience wasn’t just ‘perfect’, but it had ‘great communication’, ‘took longer than expected but loved the result’, etc… those tell the truth!

Step 4: Interview & Hire a WordPress Developer

Here are the questions and considerations that I strongly recommend.

Easy to Edit by a Non-Coder

The dashboard should be unchanged from the standard WP interface. This is especially true for lifetime bloggers. You will not appreciate a completely new, potentially confusing interface each time you change your theme. You can ask to see screenshots of dashboards on a finished client design.

ASK: Do you edit the admin panels or use page builders?

Excellent Navigation on all Devices

It goes without saying that the native WP menus should be used so that you can edit them yourself. Hiring a WordPress developer for each menu change is unnecessary and expensive! Also, watch for those who use plugins for this as too many plugins cause slower load times and greater potential for conflicts.

ASK: Do you use plugins or functions to create menus? (Answer should be “functions”.)

Handles Images Well

This is one of the rare times we will suggest a plugin. This allows the images to stay at their optimum size when you switch themes down the road.

ASK: Do you create custom image sizes? (Answer should be “yes”.)

Loads Quickly

A main component of slow loading sites is images, lack of caching and poorly coded plugins. This is why I focus so much on staying away from plugin use. Make sure your potential candidate steers clear of plugins as much as possible.

[clickToTweet tweet=”…main cause of slow sites are huge images, lack of caching and poorly coded plugins. #wordpress” quote=”…main components of slow loading sites are images, lack of caching and poorly coded plugins.”]

A definite cause of code ‘bloat’ is using another child theme as a base (which is fine) but then not cleaning out the unused code.

Caching is a task for a maintenance / support person and/or your host. This is not usually tackled during the theme stage.

ASK: If you use another child theme to edit, do you clean out the unused code? (Answer should be “yes”.)


Be sure that all assets are loaded with https.

ASK: Do you use relative-protocol URLS? (Answer should be “no”.)

Supports Growth for 18 – 24 months

The longevity of the theme is one of the biggest reasons that I use and recommend the Genesis Framework. This will keep your designs in a separate folder so that Genesis (and its security, speed, fixes, etc) can be updated without changing your styles.

ASK: Do you use a framework? If so, which one? (Genesis is preferred!)

Interacts Well with Ad Networks

Ads are the biggest cause of slower load times. So it is essential that your WordPress developer use every other possible method to speed things up – this includes refraining from the use of plugins.

Ads can be easily managed by yourself, if your theme is also coded with nice neat widget areas where you can simply drop the code. This gives you much more freedom!

ASK: In this theme, how will I add my ad codes?

SEO Optimized

This is one more where I do advise you use a plugin. Using SEO by Yoast allows the experts to roll out updates to your site without any hassle or re-coding.

Other tips are to use numeral paging, SEO friendly permalinks and breadcrumbs.

ASK: Can you create number-paging or breadcrumbs without plugins? (Answer should be “yes”.)

Social Network Optimized

If you’d like to, make sure that the twitter timelines and Facebook embeds will all be styled to match. Also be sure that a social sharing method is included in the theme development.

ASK: Is social sharing included?

Call to Actions Included

At the end of each post and page should be a call to action. The content you put out there can grow your audience if you keep in touch. So I recommend either sharing or email sign-ups. Whichever you choose, it should be easy to change out or come with the theme. And any widget area beneath your posts should not rely on a plugin!

ASK: Do you use plugins to create widget areas? (Answer: “no”.)


Did I miss an important question that you ask? Let’s discuss!

Beginner Checklist

If you’re starting out, you’ll love our comprehensive 52 point checklist for your website! Read through once, and then work on items one at a time as it comes up!

52 Edits Checklist – beginners categories

Cathy Mitchell

Single Mom, Lifelong Learner, Jesus Follower, Founder and CEO at WPBarista.