Perceptions of WordPress

WordPress is seen to be the most user-friendly platform for publishing websites. Because of this, there can be a tendency for some clients to undervalue the work that WordPress developers have to do to create new websites and apps that use the platform.

Who Uses WordPress?

The types of people who are looking for WordPress sites are generally smaller businesses, bloggers, marketing types, SMEs or sales agents. As they aren’t technically proficient, they don’t have realistic expectations of what is appropriate for design, costings, or other elements when it comes to WordPress. Their experience is based around WordPress.com installs, or a basic hosted website which uses a premium theme and a few plugins. They may come to us looking for some ‘minor edits’ that they want tweaking.

However, these minor tweaks can end up being a considerable amount of work for developers. While spending a small amount on a theme and some plugins might meet 90% of a client’s needs initially, the additional 10% can take hours. That’s why people hire developers, to get the site perfect. There’s more to it than just tacking on a piece of code at the end.

As an example, we might be approached by a client looking to modify a WordPress plugin by changing a few elements and then adding some extra SQL tables. They would only expect to pay £15 as the original plugin was £25.

The problem is that this doesn’t take a huge range of factors into consideration. This ignores the hours of work that a dev has to do to make a plugin fit with a client’s site. Where one plugin can be sold to many, making the original dev X x £25, the adaptations only get used once, meaning there is no price drop with number of units sold. The only understanding of an appropriate price that the client has to go on is the original price, which is wrong.

Shaping Client’s Expectations

Because most clients don’t have the technical knowledge, they only go on what they can see. They don’t care about the code as much as the care about the design looking great. It’s only later on, when scalability and security become a problem that the client can start to see the value of a custom-made website.

Clients may be requesting what they see as ‘a simple tweak or edit’. However, they can’t see that there is actually a whole host of issues that can cause the simple tweak to start creating issues with the whole website. The theme might not be written in accordance with the WordPress guidelines. The plugins may not have been tested with the theme and may end up not being compatible. There could be PHP/MySQL version problems. There could be a custom API which needs further customisation to sit with the rest of the site. The plugin itself could need changes applying, which involves tearing down the code to see how it’s put together.

Developers have to be prepared to educate their clients on what customisation actually entails, and clients need to educate themselves somewhat on the complexities of the WordPress development process. Through this, the work can be rightly valued by everyone.

Author Gyles Seward

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