Let me just confess. I don’t really trust people with my money. Sounds familiar? Why would anyone want to bet their money on another individual unless you know they are the best of the breed and will give you awesome value for each dollar and penny? Also since I’m tech savvy, I know some run of the mill free-lancers who are no good but still are able to make good money. They show a lot of promise but an innocent client has to pay dearly for the botched up work. Take the case of Jennifer for example.
Jennifer pings me late at night asking to see if I can fix her logo. Simple, right? Jennifer had been over loops of emails and threads trying to get things going with her previous designer. I typically do those simple things for free; I don’t like to squeeze every last penny out of stuck clients — that’s not how I do business. But Jennifer narrated me the background and I had to put in some cost because I figured there’s some catch.
Jennifer had been working with a developer. All was well till the time the work was being drawn and designed in a graphics editor. And then it came to implementing it. And Jennifer never heard back until she gets an email of a user registration on her site. Then next thing she comes to know is that her designer has hired someone to fix a little something with the widgets which the designer herself couldn’t figure out. Fine, it’s ok to get some help when required.
But that was just the beginning of the ordeal. The next thing she saw was the sidebars jumping to the bottom of the site. And then later she saw the designer just switch over to Genesis theme because they couldn’t figure out how to work with the previous theme (and by the way it was a professional WordPress theme, one of the top ten WordPress premium themes competing neck to neck with Genesis). The confusion and technical blame game and helplessness ensued for another several days. Jennifer was directed to her hosting provider while the designer explored and posted in StudioPress forums for help.
Later Jennifer just gave up:
I’m not sure I’m getting anywhere but I think it’s pretty clear this theme isn’t going to work. I’m still waiting to hear back from the designer who did my book website but if you could check with your friend to see if she or he is available that would be great as I really need to get this done.
I guess I’m confused about this whole project and why you didn’t upload it using the theme I purchased in the first place.
Let me know what you find out!
The next thing was she changed the password to her site and there I was sitting in the middle of the night wondering if I’d be in a soup in case I try to help pro-bono. I sent a payment link and got the logo fixed in 10 minutes (8 being the time it took me to get the ftp and WordPress login going). Once I was done with that I checked around and fixed a lot of other issues with the site and got it up and running. I had only charged her $100. And Jennifer was stumped.
Things like those happen in the WordPress world all the time. And the primary reason it happens is because the client isn’t aware. And it’s none of their fault. The fact is, as a client, you get such projects done only may be once every few years. Clients can tell easy from simple to complex or anything. Clients trust the one they are hiring.
But how about doing some homework and figuring whom to hire and whom to stay away from?
1. Identify your own requirements
As with regular shopping, it is very important that you identify what you are looking for and what you are willing to pay. And that’s not going to happen unless you are clear about the requirements and are able to establish the scope of work.
Of course the technical side of this will be finalized in consultation with your developer, but when you set out to hire a Genesis developer, you’d need to be clear about your requirements; put in notes and sketches and anything else you may. Go over it just to be clear of what you actually need.
2. Set your budgetary expectations
And then it comes to setting you budgetary expectations. There are Genesis developers out there who charge anything between $25/hr. to over $200/hr. Any good one will be able to deliver on your expectations.
The question is, have you decided what you are willing to pay to get the job done? I know, “as little as possible”. The point is that you should have an idea of the costs that generally go into the type of work. That will help you judge whether a developer is too costly for the job or is the right one.
3. Which type of developer is right for you
You don’t want to engage a sword for a needle’s work. There are so many Genesis developers all at various levels of their career, expertise and social connect. It’s the same as it is with WordPress developers.
From a rookie who can just figure out how to get a trivial job done, to the ones who build their work on a ready-made child-theme to the ones who build child-themes on their own — that is a lot of variance in skill level. Not to mention the ones who sell their own Genesis themes and plugins and also have a lot of free themes and plugins to their credit in the WordPress Plugins & Themes directory.
If it’s a full website I’d be more comfortable with someone who does their own custom themes.
On a tight budget you could go for someone who customizes ready-made Genesis child-themes.
The amount you pay is not always an indicator of the value. The developer charging the most may or may not provide the best service or value for your money. Mostly the difference is in the quality of work and their style of coding.
An excellent factor of judgement is how many plugins and themes has the developer contributed to the WordPress themes & plugins directory? The WordPress Theme Review Team has strict quality and coding guidelines and if the developer has made it to that level, he is what you are looking for.
4. Verify developers’ claims. Do they outsource?
The next part is to verify the developer’s claims.
It becomes especially critical when you are on low-budget. The competition is fierce at this level and skill-level poor. There’d be ones who’d do this for peanuts. But you have to make sure that they have what it takes to get the job done.
Check out their portfolio. And visit the work they have already done. Check out their testimonials to understand if they are the ones you are looking for.
One critical thing in doing this research exercise looking for the right Genesis professional is to know if the developer outsources the work. Outsourcing translates into an inflated budget, not to mention the lack of transparency in the skill set, qualification and the delivery deadlines. There’s a middleman and you have no idea what’s going on at the other end. There will be a communication gap. It is imperative that the actual person coding gets to understand the requirements exactly as intended.
5. What about availability
When you are working with the higher end, availability becomes a challenge. Due to their work and skill, they are the most sought after. And their schedule is always packed. If you can’t make it to their calendar then it also becomes a question of reliability.
Would they be available when you need work in the future?
It’s better to go with one Genesis developer and capitalize on the relationship than to hunt a new one every time. There’s better mutual understanding and less communication overhead when it comes to getting things done.
While a solo freelancer can have their schedule packed, a small agency might be the best. As a business they hire and grow to cater to the requirements, and have a wide range of offerings. An agency is perhaps your best bet at finding the best prices that are also consistent with the market and skill level of the resource allocated to your project. Professionalism does come into play and that means respecting deadlines, quality of work in addition to the fair budget.
6. How easy is the Genesis developer to work with?
The answer to this question varies largely. Every Genesis consultant has their own style of working. And your task as a client is to ascertain if this will match with your comfort level.
Do you want an update every day? How would you like to have your consultation sessions?
I didn’t learn this until lately when one of my clients came back and said that they want the design process to be more of an experience. Apparently someone had told them that designing is a collaborative process in which you sit next to your designer and play with various shades of colors and graphics till you finalize one. While that may not be along the lines of typically what’s expected in the usual process, every WordPress designer has their own style.
How often they communicate, how many revisions do they offer, how open and flexible are they with your feedback and requirements — all comes into play. Developing a website on Genesis is a technical process unlike a spa which is solely an experience. You want the end to be fruitful and take back a finished product which kick starts your business and generates leads, subscribers, customers and revenue.
7. What’s their USP?
Regardless of the skill level of the Genesis developer you hire, there are several others offering the same expertise and service. How do you chose to go with one as against the other?
The key is to ask them.
As far as the deliverables are concerned it could be the difference between the packaging of a Mac vs a PC.
When I launch websites, all that’s required from the client’s side is to press the go-live button. Everything has been set — to the last detail.
That’s my competitive edge — a no frills exceptional end-to-end delivery of a website which is production ready without a single new tweak or a plugin, the engine gunning ready to purr.
8. How good is their own website? (Hint: go by performance not aesthetics)
By now it is possible that you’ve narrowed down to the Genesis coder of your choice. Hereafter it is more about nit-picking and finding out more about the developer themselves than about the work they do.
If you are tech savvy, you could check out their own site, their site’s code and ask them questions about how and why they decided to do things the way they did. This means enquiring about their design decisions, how they think and to what end.
If their own site doesn’t validate for HTML then what did they think about it. How about the usability of their own website? Throw in some questions and be ready with them for the consultation session.
9. What do the developer / agency blog about? What about their social profiles?
Visit your developer’s blog. See what they blog about. This helps you find out how authoritative their knowledge is in the domain and on the subjects they cover.
Are they just covering the technical aspects or are they also covering the functional aspects of the technology and how it helps in the success of the website?
My priority is to build a website that helps my clients achieve their end-goal than just a technically sound website. I go to painful lengths to ensure that the results of the website can be evaluated in terms of dollar impact than just statistics.
10. Strike a conversation
Finally when you are ready, strike a conversation with the developer and finalize the project. Ask them to give you a formal quote with the scope-of-work and the timeline. This should include what’s covered and what’s not.
A good formal quote is any day better than an informal plain text email telling you that the developer is happy to work for you.
A formal quote will outline all the points of agreement in a well-structured manner with minimal chances of an expectation-mismatch. That agreement is perhaps the gentlemen’s handshake that will get your project going.
11. Get a quote — Let the best Genesis Developer make it.
Finally it’s time to do some competitive research as a client. Of all the Genesis ninjas you’ve shortlisted, get a quote from each and settle for the one that works best for you.
At this stage you’ll have to compare on the basis of time, quality and budget.
Verify that the developer is quoting you the correct scope-of-work and not just bloat. Will the functionality they code be easy to maintain? Are the areas of the site that you’d need to change going to be dynamic or static? Review your requirements that you started with in the first place. The one that you chose to go with should live up to your expectations.
Here’s an awesome diagram to help you decide you what to expect and what you can let go of in favor of your priorities.
And if you are looking for a Genesis developer, why not start with me?
All my work par excellence is done in-house, the code lives up to the most rigorous acid tests (credit to the several themes and plugins that I’ve built — some paid and others listed free in the WordPress directory). My clients testify for the dollar impact that my sites have on their business.
And beyond anything else, the passion and excitement, that I have about working with a new client, understanding the challenges and making success happen — my satisfaction is in the smiles that my work brings to my client — the sense of achievement that is unmatched by a price offering. Still looking for a Genesis developer?
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