How to Find and Hire the Top WordPress Developers in Chicago

In WordPress by Matt ChieraLeave a Comment

Finding a top-tier WordPress developer in a bustling city like Chicago can be a daunting task. There are many agencies and freelancer developers to choose from. Yet, given the increasing popularity of WordPress, it’s an essential need for businesses looking to scale their online presence. This helpful guide will walk you through the process of finding the best WordPress developer in the Windy City. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Understand Your Specific Needs and Create a Project Brief

Before you begin your search, it’s crucial to understand what you need from a WordPress developer. Are you looking for someone to build a brand-new website from scratch, or do you need a professional to maintain or revamp an existing site? Or do you simply need to hire a developer to work on a small project for a few hours? Knowing your precise requirements will help you narrow down the list of potential candidates. Creating a project brief for a WordPress website project is a crucial step. It not only communicates your vision but also sets expectations for both parties.

A project brief should include:
1. Company Overview

Start by providing an overview of your company. This should include:

  • Your company’s name, industry, and a brief history.
  • Your company’s mission, values, and objectives.
  • Your target audience and their needs.
2. Project Goals and Objectives

Clearly define what you want to achieve with your new website. Your goals could be anything from improving brand visibility, increasing sales, to improving user experience. Having these goals upfront will guide the project’s direction and help measure its success.

3. Scope of Work

In this section, outline all tasks to be completed by the developer. This might include:

  • Designing and developing a responsive WordPress website.
  • Implementing SEO-friendly features.
  • Integrating with social media, email marketing, or other platforms.
  • Providing training on WordPress management, if necessary.
4. Website Requirements

This is the heart of the project brief. Detail your specific website requirements, such as:

  • Number of pages and their purpose (Home, About, Services, Blog, Contact, etc.).
  • Specific functionalities (e-commerce capabilities, blog, contact forms, live chat, etc.).
  • Any specific design elements you want (colors, fonts, layout preferences).
  • Preferred WordPress themes or plugins.
5. Budget

Specify your budget range for the project. This will help potential developers understand if they can deliver within your financial parameters.

6. Timeline

Include key milestones and a target completion date for the project. This gives the developer a clear understanding of your expectations regarding delivery.

7. Reference Websites

Include links to websites you admire, are looking to emulate, or competitors’ websites. This gives the developer an idea of what you’re aiming for aesthetically and functionally.

8. Maintenance and Updates

If you need ongoing website maintenance and updates, specify this in the brief. This could include items like software updates, content updates, and troubleshooting.

9. Proposal Requirements

Clearly communicate what you expect to see in the proposal. This could include:

  • A project plan with timeline and deliverables.
  • The developer’s experience and portfolio.
  • Cost breakdown.
  • Any other specific information you’d like to see.

Remember, a good project brief is clear, concise, and detailed. It provides a roadmap for the developer, ensuring they understand your needs, goals, and expectations for the project. This will greatly increase the chances of your WordPress project being a success.

We don’t recommend putting together a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP), unless absolutely necessary.

RFPs are often used in various industries, but they often aren’t ideal for website projects. This is primarily because they often lack flexibility, thereby stifling the creative and iterative process that typically characterizes web development. Furthermore, the focus of RFPs tends to be on cost rather than value or quality, potentially leading to inferior results. The RFP process can also be time-consuming and impersonal, undervaluing the importance of relationship-building between the client and the developer, a critical aspect of a successful web development project.

Step 2: Budget Appropriation

Your budget will largely dictate the level of expertise you can afford. WordPress developers in Chicago can charge anything from a modest hourly rate for freelance work to higher rates for a professional agency. Ensure your budget aligns with your needs and expectations. Budgeting for a WordPress project involves considering several factors.

First, the complexity of the website – more complex sites with custom features and integrations will cost more. Second, consider whether you’ll need original design work or will be using pre-made themes, as custom designs often carry additional costs. The expertise of the developer or agency will also impact the cost; experienced professionals may charge more but deliver higher-quality work. Additionally, budget for ongoing expenses such as hosting, maintenance, updates, and potential future enhancements. Lastly, always allocate a contingency budget for unexpected costs. The cost of a project could go up if, for instance, you decide midway through that you need more features or pages.

Step 3: Start Your Search

Here are some avenues you can explore:

1. Online Freelance Platforms: Websites like Upwork can provide access to numerous WordPress developers with varied experience levels. These platforms provide detailed profiles, ratings, and reviews from previous clients. You need to be very careful when vetting freelancers on online freelance platforms. Freelance platforms offer a wide range of WordPress developers with varying skill levels. While this provides a vast pool of talent, it can also lead to quality issues due to potential misrepresentation of skills, lack of personal investment in projects, and communication or cultural barriers. Furthermore, the high turnover rate on these platforms can impact long-term project support.

2. Google Reviews: Leveraging Google Reviews can be a valuable strategy when searching for a reputable WordPress developer in Chicago. Start by searching for local WordPress developers or agencies in your area, then look at the Google Reviews they’ve received. Pay attention to the overall rating and the number of reviews, as a higher number of reviews can often indicate a more reliable rating. Reading the content of the reviews can provide insights into the developer’s professionalism, quality of work, responsiveness, and ability to meet deadlines. Also, observe how the developer responds to both positive and critical reviews, as this can reflect their level of customer service and communication. Keep in mind, while reviews are helpful, they should be one of many factors considered during your search process.

3. Directories: Directory websites like Clutch, GoodFirms, and even the WordPress official directory can be useful resources to find WordPress developers. These sites often list developers and agencies along with their expertise, services, and reviews from past clients. Using directory websites can be beneficial because they often provide a curated list of professionals, saving you time and effort in your search. Additionally, user reviews on these platforms can give a snapshot of the developer’s reliability, skillset, and quality of work. However, like any resource, these directories should be used as part of a broader search strategy, not as the sole source of information.

4. Professional Networks: LinkedIn is another great resource for finding professional WordPress developers in Chicago. You can filter your search by location, skills, and endorsements. You could also explore Chicago-specific networking groups like Built in Chicago or ACA Chicago.

5. Local Chicago Meetups and Tech Events: Chicago is known for its thriving tech scene. Attend local meetups, WordPress workshops, or tech events to meet developers in person. The website Meetup can be a great resource to find local tech meetups that WordPress developers might attend.

6. WordPress Agencies: Several reputable agencies specialize in WordPress development in Chicago. Agencies may be a pricier option, but they provide a team of experts, ensuring the job gets done professionally. Similarly to vetting freelancers on online platforms, you need to be very careful and thorough when vetting agencies. The quality of WordPress development agencies can vary significantly due to several factors. Firstly, agencies differ in their expertise and familiarity with WordPress, from those proficient in custom plugin and theme development to others primarily versed in basic theme customization. Secondly, the level of professionalism and client service can greatly differ; while some agencies offer outstanding customer service and adhere strictly to deadlines, others may fall short. Lastly, an agency’s approach to contemporary web practices like responsiveness, SEO, and security can also greatly impact the overall quality of their work.

7. Word of Mouth: Ask for recommendations from your professional network, friends, or family. Ask for referrals to WordPress freelancers or agencies with whom they’ve had a great experience with. You could start with professional acquaintances who have company websites that you admire.

Step 4: Shortlisting Candidates

Once you’ve gathered a list of potential candidates, it’s time to shortlist. Consider the following criteria:

1. Portfolio and Previous Work: A developer’s portfolio can give you insight into their style, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

2. Technical Skills: Confirm that they possess the essential skills, including proficiency in PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and SQL.

3. WordPress-Specific Skills: The developer should be well-versed with WordPress-specific skills such as custom theme development, plugin modification, and understanding of the WordPress Core.

4. Communication Skills: Clear and prompt communication is vital for project success.

5. Reviews and References: If available, check reviews and get in touch with previous clients to understand their experience.

Step 5: Interviewing

The interview process will help you gauge if the developer is a good fit for your project. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • Can you describe your experience with WordPress development?
  • Can you provide examples of WordPress websites you have created or worked on?
  • How do you handle project deadlines and pressure?
  • How familiar are you with SEO and website optimization?
  • How do you approach problem-solving when you encounter a challenge during development?

Step 6: Test Project

A small test project can give you a direct insight into the developer’s skills, work ethic, and communication style. For example, you could hire them to build a landing page on your current website. However, be respectful of the developer’s time and offer to pay for this test project.

Step 7: Making the Decision

After interviewing and possibly conducting a test project, you should have all the information you need to make your decision. Consider their technical skills, work style, communication abilities, and whether they were able to meet your project’s specific requirements. Remember, the best WordPress developer for you is one who understands your project needs, communicates effectively, and has the technical expertise to turn your ideas into reality. Don’t rush the process—taking the time to find the right fit will pay off in the end.

Get in touch with Ice Nine Online and we can get right down to business if you’re looking to collaborate with one of the best WordPress developers in Chicago. Best of luck in your search for the best WordPress developer for your project!

About the Author

Matt Chiera

Matt Chiera is Founder & Principal Consultant at Ice Nine Online. Since forming the company in 2014, he’s helped Ice Nine Online’s clients generate millions of dollars in revenue from digital marketing. Matt taught digital marketing strategy and tactics at the Tribeca School’s Digital Professional Institute. Matt’s book “Digital Marketers Sound Off” has been ranked as the #1 book in the Web Marketing category on Amazon.

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