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Have you ever wanted to hire a WordPress developer but didn’t know where to begin? You’ve probably been told that the first thing you need to do is look at their portfolio. But what if I told you that there’s a better way, a revolutionary approach that defies all logic and reason?

Buckle up, because we’re about to challenge the portfolio paradigm and teach you how to hire a WordPress developer without seeing their past work. Crazy, right? Let’s dive in!

How to hire a wordpress developer without seeing their portfolio

How to hire a WordPress developer without seeing their portfolio

The Myth of the Almighty Portfolio

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: the portfolio. Sure, it’s a great way to showcase a developer’s previous work, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. In fact, there are some hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface of those shiny, polished projects:

  1. Not all developers are great designers. Just because a website looks amazing doesn’t mean the developer responsible for it is a WordPress expert. They might have worked closely with a talented designer, or perhaps they just got lucky.
  2. Portfolios can be deceiving. It’s not unheard of for developers to exaggerate their involvement in a project, or even to include work that isn’t their own. Plus, you never know how much of the heavy lifting was actually done by someone else on the team.
  3. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future success. Just because a developer has built a handful of successful websites doesn’t mean they’ll be able to replicate that success for your project. Every website is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

The portfolio paradigm has long been the standard when looking to hire WordPress developers. However, relying too heavily on past work has been proven to not always yield the best results. This is why I created this article, to challenge the portfolio paradigm and explore alternative strategies for hiring a WordPress developer without seeing their past work.

The Portfolio Paradigm: A Broken System

The traditional method of evaluating a WordPress developer’s abilities is by examining their portfolio of past work. However, this approach is not without its flaws. Relying solely on a WordPress developer’s past work can limit your project’s inspiration and originality.

The wordpress portfolio paradigm

The WordPress portfolio paradigm: it’s broken

When doing this, you risk hiring a WordPress developer who may not have the creative spark you need for your project. Additionally, portfolios may not accurately represent the developer’s true abilities or how they handle challenging projects.

It’s essential to break away from the conventional approach and explore new avenues that encourage creativity and original thinking when seeking to outsource WordPress development.

The Need for a New Approach When You Outsource WordPress Development

To ensure the success of your project, it’s time to consider alternative strategies when you outsource WordPress development. By stepping away from the portfolio paradigm, you can open yourself up to a whole new world of opportunities. You will no longer be confined to staring at examples of past work but instead will be able to hire WordPress developers who are more creative, innovative, and better suited for your unique needs.

Redefining the Designer & Developer Identity: Beyond the Portfolio

A developer is more than just a coder; they are a creative problem solver, designer and communicator.

By looking beyond the portfolio, you can find developers with a broader range of skills and experiences, making them better equipped to handle your project and the unique set of challenges you throw at them. Sure, you can hire a WordPress designer who has an excellent portfolio and track record in creating beautiful websites. They’re not difficult to find and they’ll probably come equipped with a magic suitcase of design ideas and templates.

But, surely you want more than this? To stand out from the crowd, you need more than a beautiful website. You need original thinking, imagination and good listening skills.

Why Portfolios Don’t Tell the Whole Story

While portfolios can provide insight into a WordPress developer’s skills, they may not paint a complete picture of their abilities. Portfolios may showcase only a developer’s best work, leaving out projects that were more challenging or required problem-solving skills.

Portfolios will never include examples of failed projects and they provide no indication of the developer’s process, communication skills or ability to think outside of the box.

Alternative Strategies to Qualify and Hire a WordPress Developer

Dare to be different and prioritise creativity and original thinking when outsourcing your WordPress development needs. As such, it’s essential to adopt a more comprehensive approach when looking to hire WordPress developers. These are just some of the alternative strategies you can consider.

Think outside the box

Think outside the box and find alternative strategies to hire WordPress developers

Understand the WordPress Developer’s Process

Instead of relying on past work, ask developers about their creative process. This can reveal how they approach problem-solving and give you a better understanding of their ability to think critically and to innovate. For example:

  1. How do you manage client feedback, criticism and revisions?
  2. How do you approach optimising a WordPress website for performance, scalability and SEO?
  3. In what situations would you recommend building a custom WordPress theme/plugin versus using existing solutions?
  4. Can you explain the process you follow to ensure a WordPress website is secure and protected from common vulnerabilities?
  5. What steps do you take to ensure cross-browser compatibility and responsive design in WordPress development?

Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

When looking to outsource WordPress development, ask the developer questions that challenge their thinking and creativity. This can help you gauge their ability to think outside the box and bring fresh ideas to your project. For example:

  1. Can you describe a complex WordPress development challenge you faced in the past and how you resolved it?
  2. Describe a time when you had to troubleshoot a difficult issue with a WordPress website. What steps did you take to identify and resolve the problem?
  3. How do you approach website scalability in WordPress, particularly when dealing with high-traffic or resource-intensive features?
  4. How do you keep yourself updated with the latest WordPress trends, updates, and best practices?
  5. How will you ensure my website stands out and offers something truly unique?
Ask thought provoking questions

Ask thought provoking questions

The Trial-and-Error Method: Give Them a Challenge

One way to test a WordPress developer’s skills is to give them a small, paid test project. This not only helps you assess their abilities but also demonstrates their commitment to your project.

While this approach can be time-consuming and potentially costly, it’s often the best way to get a true sense of a developer’s capabilities and whether they’re the right fit for your project before hiring them.

Want to really put a developer’s skills to the test? Try presenting them with a brain teaser, a complex problem, or a hypothetical scenario related to your project. This can be a fun and engaging way to see how they approach problem-solving and whether their thought process aligns with your own.

Focus on Communication

When looking to hire WordPress developers, it’s essential to focus on communication.

You need someone who can clearly explain their thought process, ask the right questions, and keep you in the loop throughout the entire project. To assess a developer’s communication skills, try the following:

  1. Ask open-ended questions: Instead of asking yes-or-no questions, try asking open-ended questions that require more thought and explanation. This will give you a better idea of how well the developer can articulate their ideas and problem-solving process.
  2. Be upfront about your expectations: Let potential developers know from the get-go that clear and consistent communication is important to you. This will help set the tone for your working relationship and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Effective communication is a critical skill for any developer. Make sure potential hires can communicate clearly and efficiently, as this will be essential in collaborating and discussing your project’s needs.

Reviews, Referrals, and Recommendations: Old-School Yet Very Effective

One of the most reliable ways to assess a developer’s abilities is through reviews, referrals, and recommendations from past clients. A good WordPress designer or developer should have no shortage of reviews online from platforms like Trustpilot, Feefo, Clutch, Google, and so on.

Importance of reviews when outsourcing wordpress development

Check reviews and testimonials when outsourcing WordPress development

This can give you a more accurate picture of their work than a portfolio can. Hence, when looking to hire WordPress experts, reviews, referrals, and recommendations should not be overlooked. But remember, reviews are also easy to fake, so prioritise reputable review websites that are moderated and think of ways to verify that reviews are genuine. For example:

  1. Analyse the review content: Read through the reviews carefully and assess their overall tone, level of detail, and specificity. Genuine reviews tend to provide specific feedback, mention project details, and express the reviewer’s experience clearly. Generic or overly positive reviews that lack specific information might raise doubts.
  2. Cross-reference reviews: If the developer has reviews on multiple platforms, compare the content and consistency of the reviews across different sites. Similarities in language, writing style, or patterns could indicate potential manipulation.
  3. Check the website: Quite often, WordPress developers will leave a small credit in the footer of a website to mark their work, e.g. “created by”, “powered by”, “developed by”, etc. So after reading a review, why not spend thirty seconds to check whether the website is actually attributed to them?
  4. Check for negative reviews: Genuine developers may have some negative reviews, as it is impossible to please everyone. Evaluate how the developer handles criticism and responds to negative feedback. Constructive and professional responses to negative reviews are indicative of a genuine developer.
  5. Trust your instincts: Intuition can sometimes be a valuable tool. If something feels off or if there are consistent red flags throughout the reviews, it’s essential to trust your gut feeling and exercise caution.

Read Between the Lines

Think of yourself as a WordPress detective, skilled in the art of reading between the lines.

Instead of focusing on portfolios, try looking for clues in other places. Reviews, referrals, and recommendations are a good place to start but you can also consider:

  • Social media presence: A developer’s social media profiles can reveal a lot about their personality, communication style, and how passionate they are about their work. LinkedIn in particular can be great for discovering more about their career history, skills, and you may even find testimonials on their profile.
  • Blog posts and articles: If a developer has written about their work or shared their thoughts on industry trends, this can be a goldmine of information about their expertise and thought process.
  • Rewards, accreditations and certifications: Quite often a WordPress designer or developer will have achieved certifications or awards during their career, Google them and see what you can find. As mentioned above, check on LinkedIn.
  • Third-party news and online PR: It’s possible that the designer will have worked on a newsworthy project and may come across some interesting stories, online PR and news when Googling them.
  • Recommendations from unusual places:   Sometimes, the best way to find a great WordPress developer is to get recommendations from unexpected sources. This can include asking friends and family members, reaching out to your professional network, or even checking out online communities and forums.

By casting a wide net, you’re more likely be able to hire a WordPress developer who’s not only talented but also a good fit for your project and your working style.

Find Hidden Gems

Sometimes, the best WordPress developers are the ones who fly under the radar. These are the unsung heroes of the WordPress world, quietly building amazing websites without drawing attention to themselves.

But how do you find these hidden gems?

  1. Look outside the WordPress bubble: Don’t limit yourself to developers who exclusively work with WordPress. A talented developer with experience in other platforms and languages can often bring a fresh perspective to your project and help you find innovative solutions.
  2. Consider up-and-coming talent: Just because a developer doesn’t have a long list of high-profile projects under their belt doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering. In fact, hiring a WordPress developer who’s hungry to prove themselves can result in a more dedicated and passionate partner for your project.
  3. Don’t overlook graduates: There are a number of modern degrees these days that specialise in Web Development, as well as the more common subjects like Computer Science and Software Engineering. Don’t overlook graduates as they’re often talented, keen and up-to-date on the very latest tools and practices. Just because they don’t have proven work experience or a portfolio doesn’t mean they won’t prove to be a successful WordPress designer. Just think about all of the other ways you can qualify them.

The Importance of Passion

A developer’s passion for their work can be a strong indicator of their likelihood of success.

If they’re genuinely excited about your project and eager to tackle the challenges it presents, that enthusiasm will likely translate into a better end result.

To gauge a developer’s passion, consider the following:

  1. Ask about their best projects: Find out what projects they’ve enjoyed working on the most and why. This can give you a sense of what kind of work they’re most passionate about and whether their interests align with your own.
  2. Discuss their personal goals and aspirations: A developer who’s focused on personal growth and constantly seeking to improve their skills is more likely to deliver a high-quality product.

Planning & Commercial Sense

If they pass all of your tests, there’s one last thing to check before hiring a WordPress developer.

It’s important to ensure they have a clear understanding of the project’s scope, including the specific tasks, timeline, and budget. This helps ensure both parties are on the same page and can lead to a smoother working relationship.

Just remember, you could outsource WordPress development to the most creative and technically capable experts available, but it means nothing if the project costs end up spiralling out of control or they are unable to hit your critical launch deadline.

Gaining Edge: The New Way to Hire WordPress Experts

By looking beyond the portfolio, you can find developers who are more skilled, creative, and better suited for your project.

The goal ultimately, is to find and hire a WordPress expert that’s better than you would have been able to following the more traditional approach.

For example:

  • Inspire creativity and innovation: Stepping away from the portfolio paradigm can inspire creativity and innovation in your project, leading to a more unique end result.
  • Create a more collaborative environment: Remember that a successful project is often the result of a strong partnership between you and your developer. Look for someone who’s not only skilled but also a good team player, someone who’s willing to collaborate, take feedback, and work together to achieve the best possible outcome. Focusing on communication and collaboration can lead to a better working relationship between you and your developer, ultimately resulting in a more successful project.
  • The Jack-of-All-Trades fallacy: In today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape, specialisation is becoming increasingly important. By searching for developers with specific skills and expertise, you can find the perfect fit for your project’s needs.

With the help of amazing new AI-assisted tools when equipped with new ideas to find, qualify and outsource WordPress development, you’ll be amazed at what’s possible.

The Future of Hiring a WordPress Developer: Consider AI-Assisted Tools

Ai assisted tools

The future of hiring a WordPress developer using AI

Artificial intelligence is changing the hiring landscape. With new AI-assisted tools available such as ChatGPT to help streamline the process, it’s becoming easier than ever to find, qualify and hire a WordPress developer. These tools can assist with tasks, for example:

Job Posting

AI tools can assist in creating effective job descriptions and postings. They can analyse successful job postings and suggest the best way to structure your post, what information to include, etc., for maximum appeal to attract and hire WordPress developers.

Candidate Sourcing

With the help of plugins, AI platforms like ChatGPT can scrape various job boards, social media networks, professional networking sites, and even portfolio websites to find potential candidates who have the right skills and experience. They can use keywords related to WordPress development to find the most relevant profiles.

Screening Resumes

Newer AI models like GPT-4 can screen thousands of resumes quickly, sifting through them for relevant keywords, qualifications, and experience in WordPress development. They can rank these resumes based on how well they match the job requirements.

Skills Testing & Interview Questions

Request programming tests to evaluate a candidate’s technical skills. These AI tools can administer WordPress-related tasks to gauge the level of expertise of your candidates. You can also request a list of potential interview questions to ask the candidate based on your unique input and hiring needs.

Sentiment Analysis & Decision Making

You can ask AI tools to analyse the tone and sentiment of the candidate’s responses during an interview. This can provide insights into the candidate’s communication skills, enthusiasm, and potentially, cultural fit. You would never want to leave your hiring decisions entirely in the hands of an AI tool but they can assist greatly.


After a candidate is hired, AI tools can be used for a smooth onboarding process. They can provide necessary training material, answer FAQs, and guide the new hire through initial processes, freeing up time for the HR team.

Still Have Questions? 

Freelancer platforms to find and hire wordpress experts

What is a WordPress Developer?

You’re here, so there’s a pretty good chance you know already, but a WordPress developer is a professional who works with the basic coding and infrastructure of the WordPress platform, to improve WordPress itself, or to create entirely new products.

They can specialise in different areas such as developing themes, plugins, or core modifications. Typically, WordPress developers perform some or all of the following:

  • Front-end U/X theme design
  • Developing and implementing new features and functionality
  • Establishing and guiding the website’s architecture
  • Ensuring high performance and availability, and managing all technical aspects of the CMS
  • Helping formulate effective, browser compatible and responsive designs
  • Troubleshooting and fixing bugs
  • Supporting and maintaining the WordPress website, ensuring all components are up-to-date

Why Should I Outsource WordPress?

Outsourcing WordPress development can offer a number of advantages, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that may not have the resources or expertise in-house.

For example:

  1. Cost efficiency: When you outsource, you’re only paying for the work being done, not a full-time salary plus benefits and overhead costs.
  2. Expertise and quality: Outsourcing to agencies and freelancers that specialise in their field ensures they will be up-to-date with the latest trends, updates, and threats. This means you’re getting a high level of expertise and the end product is likely to be of higher quality.
  3. Time-saving: When you outsource, you leave the technical details to the experts. This gives you more time to focus on your core business functions.
  4. Flexibility: When outsourcing, you can ramp up or down as needed, providing a level of flexibility that hiring a full-time employee might not offer.

When Should I Hire a WordPress Developer?

The right time to hire a WordPress developer can vary greatly depending on your specific needs and resources.

Here are some examples of when you might consider hiring a WordPress developer:

  1. Building a new website: If you’re starting from scratch and need a custom-built website or blog, a WordPress developer can help bring your vision to life.
  2. Overhauling your current website: If your current site is outdated or no longer meets your business needs, a developer can help you update and redesign your website.
  3. Custom plugin or theme development: If you can’t find a pre-built plugin or theme that fits your needs, a WordPress developer can custom-build one for you.
  4. Ongoing site maintenance: To keep your site running smoothly, you may need a developer to provide ongoing maintenance.

How Much Does a WordPress Developer Charge?

The cost of hiring a WordPress developer can vary widely, depending on the complexity of the work, the developer’s experience, and geographic location.

Here are some ballpark figures you can expect:

  • For simple tasks, you could expect to pay anywhere from £10 to £60 per hour.
  • For more complex work or a developer with a lot of experience, rates could range from £60 to £200 per hour.
  • A fixed project fee could range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of pounds depending on the developer and requirements.

Where Can I Find a WordPress Expert?

There are several platforms where you can find WordPress experts:

  1. Google: A quick search on Google for terms like “WordPress Agency”, “WordPress Developers”, or “WordPress Experts” will return results in your local area.
  2. Freelance platforms: Websites like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and Freelancer host thousands of WordPress developers with varying degrees of experience and skills globally.
  3. Job boards: Sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor allow you to post a job for a WordPress developer.
  4. WordPress community: WordPress has a large, active community. Online forums, blogs, and local WordPress meetups can be a good way to meet and vet potential developers.
  5. Colleges and universities: Local colleges and universities often have lists of students requiring work experience, or they will be able to put you in touch with newly qualified developers or graduates that specialise in web development.

Remember the tips provided in this article and always qualify before hiring a WordPress developer.

How Do I Hire a WordPress Developer?

Once you’ve decided to hire a WordPress developer, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Identify your needs: Before you begin your search, identify what you need the developer to do. Do you need a new website, a redesign, a custom theme, or ongoing maintenance?
  2. Define your budget: Determine what you’re willing to pay for these services. Remember that you often get what you pay for – the cheapest developer may not always provide the best quality work.
  3. Search and vet candidates: Use the platforms mentioned above to find potential developers. Look at their experience, past work, and reviews.
  4. Interview: Once you’ve shortlisted candidates, conduct interviews. This can help you gauge their communication skills, reliability, and enthusiasm for your project.
  5. Start small: If you’re unsure, you might start with a small project or task before committing to a larger one. This can give you an idea of the developer’s skills and work style.

Remember, hiring a WordPress developer is an investment in your business. By carefully choosing the right person or team, you can ensure that your website helps you reach your business goals.

The Final Verdict: Dare to Be Different When You Outsource WordPress

In a world where conformity often prevails, dare to challenge the status quo. Break free from the portfolio paradigm and embrace new approaches to hiring a WordPress developer. Don’t be scared to think outside of the box and don’t overlook the possibilities of AI to assist you in the process. By venturing into uncharted territory, you open yourself up to a wealth of talent and potential, ultimately driving creativity, innovation, and success in your WordPress projects.

And if you decide to keep your WordPress project in-house, it’s still possible to take advantage of new and innovative ways to do things. From AI-led technical support and development using tools like ChatGPT to blog and content creation using WordPress plugins, there’s no shortage of free AI tools and support to help increase productivity.

So there you have it – a comprehensive guide to hiring a WordPress developer without relying on their portfolio. By focusing on communication, passion, and problem-solving skills, you can find a developer who’s not only talented but also the perfect fit for your project.

Now go forth and challenge the portfolio paradigm! And remember, the journey to finding your dream developer may be filled with twists and turns, but the end result will be worth it. Happy hunting!

If you have any experiences, thoughts or ideas of your own, please let us know by leaving a comment below or connecting with us on social media. 


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