Developing your WordPress Website
So you need a website for your business, or you want to start blogging or have some interesting information to share with the world but which do you choose for developing your WordPress website, Development Agency, Freelancer or Do it yourself!
After some careful research on-line you have set you mind on using WordPress as your development platform, which is a wise choice by the way. So what are your options available to you and what step do you need to take to get a WordPress website developed and put on-line
There 3 or 4 main routes to consider, each one with their merits and downsides, the one you finally choose will depend on your own circumstances, skill set, budget and time. So what are your options…
Web Development Agency
Let’s start with the big player on the field, Web development agencies. These companies develop websites day in day out, they will give you a high level of service and you will almost certainly end up with a professional looking website which is well constructed and robust.
There are a lot of web development agencies which just specialise in CMS (Content Management Systems) frameworks such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupel. The main reason these agencies are using CMS is the majority of customers want to put fresh content up on your site after the initial development stage or have a blog.
I’m not sure many web development agencies these days start a project from scratch without using some form of template or framework, even if it’s their own. If you don’t want to be tied in with the development agencies which have their own CMS or framework I would enquire which framework they are using and why they are using it. Some agencies also specialise even further and use specific theme frameworks built on top of the CMS framework such as Genesis, or Thesis
If you have a good size budget and are looking for quick professional results then a development agency is a brilliant way to go, they will take care of all your requirements and deliver a professional looking website. Development agencies should guide you through the whole process of getting your site up on the internet so is a great option if you want guarantee results. Make sure you know what technologies they are using and that you have a strategy for the ongoing support of the website after the site goes live.
There are many independent web developers out there who will build your website for you and there are various ways in which you can employ these people to develop your website for you. Many established independent developers will have their own website so you can go and check them out and see a portfolio of their recent work. With an independent you should get a much more personalised service but after sign off you may find it difficult to get support from them.
There is a certain amount of incentive on a freelance web developer to produce some really good work to add to their portfolio. The old adage ‘you are only as good as your last job’ is true with web developers, bad work and bad news travels fast on the internet so only the good ones survive but make sure if you hire a freelancer you get a recommendation first. Freelances generally have a lot of experience and offer a brilliant service.
Some of the issue to have to look out for is to ensure that you have good communication channels open to the devloper, There is nothing worse than trying to contact your developer and they never pick up your calls or reply to your emails.
Apart from searching on Google and finding a good web developer there are a few other market places worth exploring. There are 2 great websites called Odesk and Elance, on these site you can post your job requirements and budget (optional) on their job notice board, prospecting developers will view your specifications and submit their proposals and estimated costs. You can pick and choose from the proposal submitted, picking the one that finally attracts you the most, you can then engage with the developer and work out the finer details of the project.
These jobs marketplaces website attach developer from all round the world so much of the contact is done online via skype or email so be sure you have these tools in place from the beginning.
This a really good method if you know what you want and have a good, well written job spec that the developed can work from. It’s also good if you have a tight budget has you can get some very good prices on a job. Make sure you get a developer that has very good reviews, the systems are set-up to protect both parties and payment, time sheets and job planning is handled by the marketplace so you have a good level of protection, but it’s not for anyone. Some things to look out for is make sure you can communicate with the developer so consider time zones and language barriers.
If you can, contact other owners of sites who have used the developer you are considering and get some feedback form them. Be aware that there are some large companies on ODesk and Elance who may do a hard sell but stick with your requirements and make sure you get a good fit.
Build it yourself
So you are feeling brave and thinking you would like to have a go building a website and learn how to do build a website on the journey. Doing it yourself may sound completely out of your area of expertise but it is possible to learn and build a website in a short space of time, especially with frameworks such as WordPress which are very intuitive to learn. The most important aspect of doing it yourself for the first time is to find out as much information as possible about building a website. Have a look at the online tutorials out there, free or paid, some have step by step process or videos which you can follow
There are a few other frameworks which are work looking at, they are Drupal and Joomla. There is a slightly stepper learning curve with these but you can produce some amazing websites using templates. The community is not as big as WordPress but it may be worth considering.
If you come up against a problem when building your website then usually a quick search will produce the answers you are after, or if you are really stuck them there is always support agencies you can turn to who will quickly and professionally help you sort out your problems.
Remember that whatever process you are going to take there is still a fair bit of work that you will need to do yourself such as writing copy, sourcing images and reviewing the development, so make sure you factor this time in whilst the development is going on.
If you have a lot of printed material or have an old web site then you may well have all the copy and images you want already so this needs to be passed on to the developer to work with. If you are starting from scratch them you will need to spend a bit of time writing some really great content for the web site, ultimately this is what will make your website stand out in the search engines from all the others.
The bit about getting good quality content on your site is really important these days as the online search engines love sites with well-structured content site with lots of authoritive information so it is worth spending some time getting this ready for when your site goes live. Also your site needs to be well constructed and secure otherwise you could see your site blocked by the search engines or worst, hacked.
There are a few other worth while option to consider such as working with a developer side by side, there are a number of developers offering this service now since it is possible to develop a basic but complete website from scratch in a couple of hours.
Whatever route you go down make sure that you sketch out a plan and scope out the work involved, treat it like any project you do, make sure you have done all the research and gathered as much information and knowledge as you can. If you are stuck as to which route you would like to take I find writing down the pro’s and con’s of each option can help you decide, also write down your ultimate end goals and requirements and make sure your selection is going to deliver on these.
Creating a website should be an enjoyable and creative process, so get involved, input as much into it as you can and you will be rewarded with a great looking website so you can really start your on-line journey.
Remember, nothing happens unless you start…..