How to Avoid a WordPress Nightmare


Switching over to WordPress for the first time can be a scary experience for the uninitiated; fears of project bloat, scope creep, failed business objectives, and frivolous cosmetic change after change have the potential to manifest and plague any WordPress web design or development project with stretched budgets and severed nerves.

Have you ever heard the expression ‘an ounce of prevention is worth more than that of a pound of cure’? Well the meaning of that mantra comes into force when it comes to any website development project. And perhaps that goes double for WordPress.

This is often because of the low-cost expectation that is normally tied to the open-source platform. Those unfamiliar with open source all too often automatically assume “open source” is another expression for “free”. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

WordPress comes without licensing fees, whereas other web content management systems can come with $10,000 licensing price tags or higher. So there is huge potential for cost savings, however the expectation that WordPress is free must really be laid to rest. Labour is labour, and WordPress developers are no less skilled than any other developer –so why should they be cheaper?

However, there are a number of ways a company can avoid costly WordPress project delays, elevated costs, and missteps.

wordpress nightmare

Image by Serge Kij via Flickr

1. Planning and Discovery

The real cost savings with WordPress comes with its predictability and support.

Through proper planning it can be deciphered where using third-party plugins (paid or free) can fill a need that would otherwise be custom programmed at a much higher cost. Thoroughly identifying the needs and functional requirements of a client website is one of the most important jobs of a WordPress developer because it provides them with a forum to explore existing technologies and discern whether they are the right fit for a project.

No complexity can be overlooked, and no function ignored or forgotten.

A rigorous planning procedure will uncover all of the moving parts, existing system integrations and generally eliminate much or all of the surprises that can cause costly code rewrites down the line.

So rule number one is to never skimp on planning, ever. Expect to pay a minimum of $5,000 for a clear planning document. If that makes you uncomfortable, well, you’re working with WordPress, remember? If you plan a solution with one vendor and opt to leave them, you can always take your planning document to another vendor. Planning is not a curse, it’s a remedy that can provide one last time to avoid making mistakes before it’s too late!

2. Effective Meetings

It might be hard for C-level executives to wrap their head around this one; but no one cares if they want their late Muggles, the family pooch on the company home page –or where anything goes for that matter.

One of the biggest obstacles companies face when making a new website is internal politics. Here are a few tips for making the best use of meeting time.

a. Let best practices dictate the solution, not any one person’s preference or “professional opinion”. It’s still an opinion. Today, WordPress web designers, also known as User Experience or User Interface designers pour over facts and figures to predict the best, most effective locations where website assets and functions should be placed. Their choices are guided by numbers, not taste. Their jobs are result oriented.

b. Establish a key decision maker; no company should subject itself to a board or a panel for making decisions on the fly for any project of this sort. The disasters that surround WordPress web design and development come from poor communication, and from a lack of decision making during planning.

3. Quarantine

It’s a lot more disastrous and costly to change a foundational aspect of any design after it’s already begun construction. That rings true in physical construction, and in web development. Once decisions have been made, own them until an agreed upon milestone. Do not change things mid-stream, or you will haphazardly step into unknown territory. In projects where management goes rogue, project costs often balloon to two to three times the original allocated budget.

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