Questions to ask my Web Developer?


I am a professional with a small office in a suburb near Seattle and I’ve been interviewing potential web developers to do my site. I have a lot of experience with Software development, but very little experience with web tools. The main designer/implementer that I’m consider has given me a proposal suggesting WordPress as the main platform and I have concerns about this.

I’m not a Web developer so I have no idea if WordPress is considered a mainstream web development platform for developers, or what, but I know that if a client came to me and asked me to build an enterprise class productivity client server app that I would be laughed out of his office if I suggested doing it in Java, Basic, or any other interpreted high level language. I know this is not a perfect analog, but I can’t help shaking the feeling that using WordPress is a sign that he’s stronger on the design than on the implementation side. For some reason I expected to see a proposal using HTML5, or Cold Fusion, or ASP, or something other than WordPress. I don’t know all these tools, I’ve just heard of them and know sketchy few details about their differences.

Am I offbase here? Can I get the full professional implementation with CMS and all the design bells and whistles that I want (no ecommerce needed, just lot of professional content) from WordPress? How will the support work? I guess my ultimate question is: what are the questions I should be asking him to evalutate his ability to deliver on my vision? I’ve seen some of this sites and they are nice, but I haven’t spoken to the clients.

Finally, he tells me that Google gives some preference to blogs and that WordPress, being a popular blogging platform, will get my site more Google juice. True?

Thanks all for your help. This is my business, I have a lot riding on this!


23 views and no replies? Have I asked this in the wrong forum? If someone could steer me to the best place for this question, I’m happy to move to that location. Thanks

Hi RobertPerez, actually what i’ve observed as being in SEO industry. People try to gain advantage from their clients without guiding them. They try to gain money instead of their client’s trust. Are you hiring a full time web developer or outsourcing your projects?

Hi, thanks for the response!

I am a consumer of services, a professional with a need for a full featured website. I am seeking a designer/developer who can, for time & materials, design and implement a new site for me. I will seek SEO separately on a contractual basis.

I like this guy and his prices are reasonable, but I’m concerned about WordPress as a platform. To my layperson’s eye, it would be like a developer proposing to do my whole site using Dreamweaver. Am I selling WP short?

I have no good context for evaluating this proposal and I’m wondering what I should be looking for. I figured you folks would be a good source of information. Apologies if this is not the appropriate forum for this type of question.

Thanks for any thoughts you may have. We have to move forward soon, and this poor guy is waiting on my response.

I’m not sure this is the right subforum for your questions, so I’ve asked for the opinion of the other moderators. If it is better suited elsewhere, it will be moved.

Wordpress is not exactly a webdevelopment platform. It’s a blogging software that can be personalized and expanded. It’s very popular, so lots of themes and plugins are available to turn it into almost anything (CMS, ecommerce, etc). And if a plugin doesn’t exist yet, it can be written.

WP is PHP/MySQL, which is used for a large part of the websites in the world. So from that point of view, it’s a perfectly valid choice for a website.

It all really depends on what your needs are. If this developer is good at his job, then he might have understood that your requirements can be met using WP. It sure will cost a lot less (time and money) than a site that has to be made from zero.

It may also be that this developer only has experience with WP sites? You’ve seen some of his sites. Are they all based on WP? Did he show you non WP sites as well? What about other developers? Why are you considering him, and not someone else? What is it that appeals to you?

Finally, he tells me that Google gives some preference to blogs and that WordPress, being a popular blogging platform, will get my site more Google juice. True?

This is a question that you should ask in the SEO forum, but I have my doubts. I don’t think Google cares if a page is a blog page or another kind of page, and even less if the blog is a Wordpress blog or another kind of blog. But I might be wrong.

Being a software engineer yourself you probably appreciate well done programming and if that is so word press is not it. Wordpress is a spaghetti mess, popularized by how “easy” it is for the average joe shmoe to set-up for a blog. That said, word press might be appropriate considering your budget… I have no idea. However, people who generally recommend word press for anything other than a simple site or blog generally are reliant on it to the point that they are not really programmers… just script kiddies. It is very popular in terms of web designers taking jobs they shouldn’t be using word press for implementation but once any customizations roll around beyond what the default package provides these so called “web developers” end up stuck, programming when they shouldn’t be programming.

So if you smell a designer trying push word press off on you it generally means they do not actually know how to build something in terms programming but install word press and create a theme. Furthermore, word press on a whole has huge efficiency issues with it’s usage of a meta relational database schema. I would recommend staying clear of it for anything other than a blog – which it works well for. However, once you start trying to turn it into something else it is no way meant to be scalable for a medium or enterprise level web application. The person who created it said it themselves it was one of the first things he wrote – remember your first program – I sure do – yuck!!!

That said, without taking into account the budget locating a capable developer on a small to medium budget general resolves to one of the well kown open source content management frameworks that are much better written and more flexible – for people who know what they are doing. Those platforms would be Joomla and Drupal. Now those are not the only ones that exist but they are the top dogs. Unlike word press though they require programming knowledge to really achieve anything useful. Now depending on the project unless the budget is a couple tens of thousands of dollars you will probably have to settle with some type open source cms. .NET is another beast entirely… I have never done anything professional with it so I will leave that up to someone else to chime in. However, unbias anything that can be achieved with .NET can be with PHP – it comes down to taste, hardware and scale.

Thank you, oddz (and others), that is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for. My budget obviously wants to stay small but i had figured it would venture into 5 figures. I was (pleasantly) surprised when his proposal came in at $5540 with an option to pay $250 per month for “maintenance and SEO”. I had planned to look for and pay someone else (a real SEO expert) for SEO. This guy is nice and his designs are ok, he is well liked by my marketing agency (who recommended him). But there’s no other connection to him.

The site needs to have a lot of content, probably 40-50+ pages, hosting video, images, a dynamic news sidebar, some publications I’ve written and that’s about it. No Flash (need iOS rendering), no ecommerce, but it must include idiot proof CMS allowing for new images and text, new pages, and possibly new video uploads.

If you were doing this project, what development platform would you be using?

Thanks again everyone for the input.

WordPress does not have beautiful code. Which is why it’s tagline of ‘code is poetry’ is out of place. Never the less it probably is a good solution for your site.
A lot of what oddz said is true, but the implication that it can only run like basic blogs (aw, that’s a cute little website, do you use the WordPress for it) isn’t quite right. runs on WP as do many other websites that get hundreds of times as much traffic as yours will.

The current default WP theme uses HTML5. You can check that box if you want. It’s the markup the browser renders. It’s not a programming language that lets you write any server side functionality. It makes sense that the proposal would focus on the CMS in use.There’s probably not a good reason to write a new one for your site from scratch.

So the worst parts of WP are largely irrelevant to you (backend code architecture). The positives are ease of use, ease of updating and variety of plugins and developers available.

Regarding the Google SEO bit, there may be some indirect truth to that. Matt Cutts of Google has said the WordPress more or less does on-site SEO correctly, out of the box. You can give yourself a few more options with a plugin like Ultimate SEO, but it has a good structure generally.
That doesn’t mean Google will prefer WP sites over others that also have good on-site SEO, but as a default position it’s pretty good.

Also if you blog the frequent updates are a positive signal.