10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Building WordPress Sites For Clients

When a client approaches an individual or company to build them a new or upgrade their old site to WordPress they expect the person doing the work to know exactly what they are doing, right?. I mean you wouldn’t take your car to be repaired at the local grocery store by a worker who isn’t a mechanic but has read a few tutorials online in their free time.

Unfortunately this is exactly what is happening to some unfortunate people within the WordPress eco-system who are making bad decisions on who they hire to build their new but in the end not so awesome website for them.

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When I was freelancing it was always hard for most of my customers to understand the technologies like PHP, CSS, HTML, jQuery and that’s the exact reason they came to me as they expected me to understand these technologies so they didn’t have to. The client pays for your experience and knowledge of these technologies along with WordPress itself and if you are going to take part of their children’s inheritance in return for your work it would be best if you understood them too.

Too many times I see self titled / proclaimed WordPress Professionals / Consultants etc who do not have basic CSS, HTML, PHP, jQuery skills and a lack of general knowledge of WordPress itself. Can you really be a WordPress Professional / Consultant without these basic skills? I would say that it’s a definite no.

It’s true to say due to it’s open source nature that WordPress development can be done by anyone but it’s also true to say that not everyone can do WordPress development well.

1. You Cannot Build A Complete WordPress Product From Nothing

Can you take a PSD file or a project brief and construct a fully operation modern responsive WordPress theme or plugin from design to finished product writing all the code by hand and using all available technologies like HTML, PHP, CSS3 and jQuery.

This is a true test of your understanding of WordPress and the technologies that are used to build a theme or plugin, If you cannot take a theme from an idea to a working product your skill set will always be lacking and your not ready for any client work just yet.

2. You Cannot Successfully Debug WordPress, Plugin and Themes

Can you successfully debug websites HTML, CSS, PHP, jQuery, plugins and themes for issues and then write the code to resolve this issue yourself. If you cannot solve issues with websites then your not ready for client work as clients expect results and if you cannot resolve issue then the will find someone who can.

Not being able to resolve issues for a client shows them a lack of development knowledge on your part and sooner or later they will find someone more experienced than yourself who can do the job they are paying for.

3. You Edit Theme Files Via The Inbuilt WordPress Editor Feature

If you say yes to this at any point then you definitely shouldn’t be working on any client projects as this is a huge no no even for the smallest of edits.

4. You Don’t Know What FTP Is Or How To Use It

Do you know how to use FTP to upload WordPress files and fix issues on a hosting environment?

5. You Do Not Use A Good Quality Text Editor, IDE and Version Control

When working on a clients site do you use a good quality text editor like Sublime Text and version control like Git or similar to store your edits for future reference.

6. You Live Off Of Theme And Plugin Settings

If you make your living by checking and unchecking theme settings and when there isn’t a setting for the feature you are trying to modify you fold and cannot proceed further with the clients requests then your not ready for client work.

7. You Contact Your Product Vendors Support For Simple Customisations

If you need to change the colour of an element in a theme or you wish to add a new area altogether if you contact the theme providers support services asking how to achieve this your definitely not ready for client work.

8. You Don’t Know What A Staging Site Is

When working on a clients site do you create a staging environment to perform your edits on then deploy your edits to the main client site when all added functionality has been tested. Or do you simply work on the clients live site hoping that it all works out, if so then your shouldn’t be doing client work.

9. You Play The Blame Game When Stuck

Do you play the game of blaming everyone else but yourself to the customer when you cannot setup a product on a site or cannot debug an issue that has appeared when building the clients site? If you find yourself doing this which is usually due to a lack of development knowledge then your not ready for client work.

10. When The Shit Hits The Fan You Don’t Stick Around

Not all clients are laid-back easy going people and as they are paying you for your services they expect professionalism and dedication. When they turn up the heat or they are unhappy with what you are doing if you do the all to common disappearing act on them then you should never be anywhere near a client or be taking their money.

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3 replies
  1. Amanda Rush
    Amanda Rush says:

    I agree with all of these to a point, but I think at least some of them should be taken as general and not absolute statements. For instance, if someone sent me a psd file and said “build a theme from this”, since I’m blind, I’d have to spend time with a sighted person who has a good grasp of what’s in the file, can describe it accurately, and then I could build the code and create the CSS based on that information. Also, simple customizations. If those customizations are going to do something visually to the theme that changes the look of the theme, then I can do the customization, but I’ll have to have someone spot it so that I can make sure the customizations wil work properly and keep the theme’s layout and look the way the client wants it. Just my two cents, and just some things to think about.

  2. Jason Pelker
    Jason Pelker says:

    This article is kind of bull.

    The technology behind the website isn’t what drives revenues for the clients. If you can leverage all the available WordPress resources, put together a site and the client makes a profit, then yes, you should build WordPress sites for clients. If your client doesn’t at least break even on the project, then no, then you shouldn’t build websites.

    This is a business question, not a programming question. This is also why themes cost $40, when they easily require 100+ hours of labor to complete. There’s a reason WordPress builders gravitate towards consulting. The problem isn’t their lack of computer chops, though—it’s their poor business acumen and willingness to say yes to any prospective client.

    Here’s how valuable WordPress website building is: $0. That’s the cost of a website.

    • Stuart Duff
      Stuart Duff says:

      Thanks for the feedback Jason but I beg to differ.

      The technology behind any website is actually the most important part of what drives revenues for clients especially if the site has e-commerce functionality for example, without the technology itself there would be no website to put together at all and therefore no revenue stream and no client.

      I completely agree with you on leveraging all the available WordPress resources to help build client sites as there are some great themes and plugins available that do specific jobs already and save reinventing the wheel for project features. What happens though when the client wants a feature where you have no other option but to write some a custom PHP, HTML and CSS to provide that feature or start asking for basic customizations that you have no idea how to perform as you have no technical skill to do so.

      I also disagree that the cost of WordPress website is $0 as there are many more costs involved as you wouldn’t be building a site for a client of but on the self hosted version of WordPress from

      Costs would include hosting, plugin and theme purchases if that was the case, your time for building the site, charges for custom development work, ongoing maintenance costs for updates etc if you need to do that for them, support costs for any issues they have down the line, and if they are a new client who has never used WordPress before training would also be required to help them understand and use their new website. These are just some of the costs involved for a client and add up to a lot more than $0.


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