Be sure to check out Seattle WordPress Design—Part 1: DIY

For Puget Sound area businesses that want a WordPress website built for them, the obvious choice is a Seattle WordPress design shop—a company that specializes in using and extending WordPress. As you surf local design websites, you’ll discover that most developers offer WordPress, but some companies use WordPress exclusively while others offer it among a number of options including straight HTML (old school), FLASH (the wrong school), Joomla (a WordPress wannabe), Drupal (for special needs) and a host of off-the-shelf platforms and technologies that, for most businesses, will prove to be inferior to WordPress. The reason you choose WordPress for your business is to benefit from its SEO performance and content management functions, so unless you have such specialized needs that they can’t be met adequately by WordPress, you should stick with a developer that specializes in WordPress. Why so? Because a WordPress exclusive developer is more likely to understand the options that will help promote your business while using a WordPress-driven website.

What to look for in a Seattle WordPress design shop

Once you’ve narrowed the field to WordPress exclusive developers, there’s still a large pool of companies to choose from in the Seattle area. Let’s break them down into categories:

  • Trainers and tweakers: If you have a theme already in mind, you might need a coach to help set up the site, install plugins and teach you the basics. Anyone with a solid grasp of WordPress can help you at this level. They should also be able to make small design changes and help you understand how search engines work and how you can optimize your content and utilize social media to boost awareness of your website.
  • Designers: Many graphic designers have moved into website design in recent years. They may not have the technical skills to build a custom WordPress theme for you, but they are likely to be able to customize an existing theme or framework , creating an attractive, professional-looking website presence for your company. As long as your technical needs are basic and you know how to write and optimize web content, a designer may be all you need.
  • Developers: WordPress developers can build a custom theme that fully meets the needs of your business. The caveat here is that, although developers have the technical skills you need, they may not have the design and online marketing skills or business development background to help you decide what is needed. Once again, if you have those missing skill sets covered, a technical developer may be the right answer for you.
  • Full-service: A full-service WordPress developer offers all of the above: coaching, tweaking, creative design, custom development, SEO, marketing, business development and content creation. Full-service WordPress design companies, such as AIM, are positioned to help clients for all of their needs, and over time, as a website requires updating, that is a big advantage.

How to judge the quality of a company’s work

It’s usually quite easy to judge the results of a web designer’s work because most companies include a showcase gallery. Visit the showcase sites and review them, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I immediately understand what the website is about?
  • Is the site inviting or off-putting?
  • Is it clean or cluttered?
  • Is the navigation easy to use?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • Is it easy to find contact numbers and addresses?

Better yet, contact a client directly. While visiting the client’s website, go to their contact page and send them a message; let them know that you’re considering hiring the web development company and ask if the developer was responsive to their needs, if they helped the client understand the best options for their business, and were there hidden costs? I’ve found that most people are happy to help with a quick assessment. The worst that can happen is that you get no response.

Because the initial research steps are so important for website development projects, AIM has put together resources that may be useful to help get you started. Click here to see our website planning resources.