How to Hire a WordPress Developer for Your Business

A person sitting at chair in front of a desk with two monitors while turned away and smiling up

Whether you’re hiring an in-house WordPress developer or contracting one through a freelance gig or an agency, it’s important to protect your business by hiring someone well-prepared for the job. While the hiring process can be tedious, the end result is extremely rewarding.

What to consider when hiring a WordPress developer for your business

Once you’ve decided you want to hire an enterprise WordPress developer, there are a few important things to decide first.

  1. What are the goals for your website and for the developer(s)?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Do you want to hire an in-house employee, contract a freelancer, or partner with an agency?

All three questions really go hand-in-hand. Your goals will likely influence your budget and your hiring selection, and vice versa.

If you’re migrating to WordPress VIP, you may benefit from partnering with an approved agency rather than bringing on internal employees. But if you’re wanting to build a new site or make updates to a current one, having an in-house resource might be a better long-term solution.

One of the most important things to remember is that the cheapest option is not always the best option. Your website is often the face of your business, so cutting corners is not recommended. Plus, hiring a dedicated developer comes with a lot of perks.

“WordPress VIP is a sophisticated, opinionated, managed auto-scaling platform designed around running WordPress at scale. So the chosen developer will need to be interested in working with scalability in mind and solving challenges in unique ways.”

—Rick Hurst, WordPress VIP Customer Success Engineer
A head shot for Rick Hurst where Rick is smiling at the camera.

Benefits of hiring an enterprise WordPress developer

Having a dedicated developer for building, launching, and updating your website is well worth the investment. A developer can help you customize your site, optimize it for search engines, improve the user experience, follow data protection regulations, monitor analytics, and much more.

However, when developing an enterprise-grade network, a standard WordPress developer simply won’t do. Especially when it comes to WordPress VIP, the agile CMS built for running WordPress at scale. Our world-class support team can provide you with assistance and expertise, but you’ll need your own developer(s) to get started.

WordPress VIP developers should be well-versed in high-traffic sites and open-minded about solving challenges with scalability in mind. Many enterprise-grade issues are not core WordPress issues, so they require more experience with caching, filesystems, proxies, etc. 

“Our GitHub-based workflow is more akin to how most other software is developed. Many WordPress developers are used to testing in production, but that isn’t going to fly in the enterprise.”

—Jacob Smith, WordPress VIP Technical Account Manager Team Lead
Jacob Smith

What to look for in an enterprise WordPress developer candidate

Because WordPress VIP is the “sports car” of CMSes, your developers should be prepared to handle the enterprise-grade, purpose-built nature of the platform.

We spoke with some of our development and customer success team members who have the most experience working with enterprise WordPress developers, and they shared the following things you should look for in an agency or candidate.

1. Experience

When it comes to building and maintaining a network of business sites that can scale well, your future developer should have:

  • Confidence developing in their own local environment and using CLI.
  • Familiarity with tools like GitHub, SVN, MySQL, xDebug, New Relic, etc.
  • A strong background in PHP to help them consider potential performance solutions, troubleshoot, and debug.
  • Experience with core and plugin code, custom functionality, etc. within WordPress.
  • Knowledge of WordPress multisite, or “networks” of sites.

“How well rounded is their experience? Developers with strong knowledge of PHP, databases and debugging beyond WordPress usually perform better than someone with just WordPress experience.”

—Sarah Pantry, WordPress VIP Senior Developer
A headshot of Sarah Pantry smiling

Tip: If you are worried that you won’t be able to find someone with this experience, you can always offer to put them through a course like the one WordPress VIP agency partner rtCamp offers after they’ve been hired.

2. Traits

Arguably, the most important things you can hire for are personality traits. Skills can be taught, but core traits are more difficult to develop.

What are some important traits for an enterprise WordPress developer? 

The most popular answer among our experts was an inquisitive nature and a passion for solving problems. It’s imperative that developers working at scale want to understand an issue and work on a long-term solution, not just an immediate patch. A learning mindset will set the developer, and your organization, up for success.

“You’ll want someone willing to test, iterate, and really dig into the issue at hand. They should have a ‘can do’ attitude and want what’s best for the project or desired outcome.”

—Melissa Ripka, WordPress VIP Technical Account Manager Team Lead
A headshot of Melissa Ripka smiling

It’s also crucial they have excellent communication skills, especially if they’ll be working within a team. Without clear communication, it’s highly likely that errors will happen which could result in risk and loss for your organization.

3. Proof

Acquiring proof of a hard skill like web development is essential to successful hiring, especially if you’re hiring an in-house developer or working with a freelancer. There are three ways you can do this during the hiring process: 

  • Ask for a portfolio of work
  • Request references (either contact information or letters)
  • Hire the candidate for a trial 

A portfolio is an easy way to get a glimpse of a developer’s experience. You can identify whether it meets your standards, aligns with your goals, etc.

References are a great way to understand a candidate’s traits. You can learn more about how they work in a team, how they solve problems, and how they respond to adversity.

An ideal combination of proof comes with a trial. If you hire the candidate for a test run, you will see their experience and their traits firsthand. WordPress VIP is a part of Automattic, and the paid trial process is an integral part of our successful hiring practices. A trial offers both you and the candidate an authentic chance to make sure this is a good decision for you both.

An example trial prompt:

Visit and create a local WordPress VIP skeleton. Generate some web content and perform a search and replace in the database to prove your CLI familiarity. Then, fork a common incompatible plugin so it becomes compatible with WordPress VIP.

If a trial is not feasible for you, you can easily provide this information to them prior to an interview and ask related questions during the interview process, or even during the application process. This is a great opportunity to see how quickly they can learn the platform and respond to situations.

Final thoughts

Growing your WordPress team is never an easy task. Take the time to really get to know your applicant and/or agency candidates so you can set your business up for success.

Looking for even more information about WordPress VIP development? Our developer hub provides lots of great content for enterprise WordPress developers.

Get the latest content updates

Want to be notified about new content?

Leave your email address and we’ll make sure you stay updated.