WordPress, Websites, Web developers

27 Feb , 2014 Thoughts

WordPress, Websites, Web developers

This will be a quick rant post.

Bloody oath WordPress, websites and web developers!

I literally spent the last 2 – 3 months dealing with wordpress, websites and web developers from India that it’s like, I’m at an expert level now.

People who know me who have read my LinkedIn, know that I do not have any degrees in web development, graphic design or IT. So what they hell happened?

I guess, it’s cos every single time there’s a new development of a website, I have just put my hand up and pushed everyone at work to move to wordpress. Why wordpress? Because I have used it for many years and also because it is the easiest CMS to use and the most versatile to get a page whipped up. Why make things hard for people who aren’t the greatest with computers right?

So in the last 3 months I’ve been working on 4 websites for my current workplace – one of which is a complete shamble and I’ve worked so hard to “MAKE IT HAPPEN” which really means to pick up the pieces and make something that clearly wasn’t going to work, at least work.

What this entire experience has taught me is:

1. Never start a project (especially a website) without first having an understanding of what the hell you are going to do with the website. Is it for information, is it for clients to login and do something or is it a communication/interactive space with forums and chat rooms.

2. Make sure you understand HOW the site will function. It’s one thing to design what the damn site looks like but it’s another to understand how you want to site to work. For example, if your clients are going to buy something, how is this going to happen and how will they access the service once they have paid.

3. Know what you want the site to look like. Even if it’s ripping of other sites, know what you want, know the colours and be more specific about what elements you like from other websites.

4. Be super specific when speaking to your offshore web developer. You can’t expect people from non-English speaking countries to be super dooper with English. So make sure you give short lists, specific measurable tasks and instructions and do not assume they understand technical words. I asked my developer to “change the title to Trajan pro typeface” which means, change the title to the Trajan Pro font. Instead, they literally changed the title to “Trajan Pro Typeface”. Fuck.

5. Have a time line that coincides with your project’s components. The what, why, how of your website needs to be documented and put into a time line.

6. Payment should be negotiated for phases rather than upfront especially if the payment is over $1000 AUD. Do not pay all at once. Some developers don’t know shit and they pretend that they do because they want the business.

7. Be very specific about what you classify as satisfactory and when a phase or component is complete and ready for payment. Don’t be airy fairy about it.

8. This should really be like the first thing you do before you engage in a working relationship with a developer – scan the damn developer. Vet them. Look through their examples. Talk to them. Say no. Negotiate. The ones who are really keen will call you every day and be willing to negotiate with the price. You have to understand that in some countries such as India, their living expenses are like 10% of what we pay here. So if we pay $4.00 for a loaf of bread, they pay $0.40 for it. So you do not need to pay THAT much for a website.

9. Do not get upset about paying someone less than what you would pay someone in Australia. Like much less. As long as what you are paying covers their time and is reasonable, do not feel like you are running a sweatshop. Understand that a sweatshop may pay someone $1 to construct a garment that you would pay $200 for. Now that is what you call sweatshop (and what I will be talking about soon).

10. Have a list of alterations to your website as you check it the first or second time. Do not keep changing little bits and pieces as you go. Better developers will send you a link with all the changes and will not move on to the next phase until the site has been approved by you. If you continue to make these little changes and go back and forth, you only waste your own time.

11. Be realistic with time. Always give your developer a completion date that is at least 1 week before your preferred completion date. These guys will say they will finish on time, but shit happens.

12. Have some knowledge of how to use your hosting providers. I’ve been ripping hairs out with JustHost, however, I have used their online 24/7 chat service a lot which has helped. You’re probably better off speaking to your host provider to get some answers on how to transfer sites, how to access your files on ftp, how to point your domain names… etc. Some knowledge is better than none. It’s really to stop these offshore developers from ripping you off.

13. Follow up your developer each day. I don’t know what they are doing over in India. So all I can do is keep emailing them everyday – How’s it going. What’s the progress. I would like this done by today…. etc. Really have to step on the backs of people’s shoes when working with people offshore.

14. Be polite. You can be pushy, you can be firm and you can also be polite as you do it.

15. Be ready to negotiate and be really firm with your options. I have said it like it is so many times with a developer that really didn’t know shit. If you need to give options then you better stick to them when the other person has decided what they want to do. For maximum effectiveness, give the other person 2 choices only. This creates a dilemma and steers them to the result that you want. For example, if you offered someone to either refund the full monies and for them to keep the work, or to keep the monies and transfer all the work to you, what do you think they will choose?

16. Do not continue to engage a developer if they do not deliver. If they cannot even complete the first requirements to a high standard, tell them to fuck off (nicely of course).

17. Know what the completed site will look like. This refers to the first lesson. Start the project with the end in mind. You need to know when to say that the site is finished and stick with it. Do not keep making changes. It’s not worth it.

18. Make sure your site is secure if you have a sales component or something with confidentiality. You do not want people to hack in and get information that can be detrimental to your business. I volunteered at a site once and someone hacked in and saved transcripts of conversations that were confidential. As a result, the site was shut down. This was a mental health website, if you were wondering.

19. Pay people. Though, pay people after you get an invoice. Also, were possible, have a contract that entails the payment and consequences of payment.

20. Breath. It will drive you mad at times but all you can do is breath and answer the question as simple as possible. The only thing you can do is keep going and keep connected. If you started with a great plan, then chances are your websites will turn out fantastic. If you’re like me and you inherited a project from other people who couldn’t handle it, then Breath, swear your guts out and keep going.

And that is what I learned from WordPress, Websites and Web Developers.

Karen

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