Why you should hire a professional for your Joomla site in 2010

Have you heard the following from your clients? Or does this describe you?

  • My Joomla developer got 90% of my site completed, but they just can’t seem to finish up, and now they won’t return my emails. There’s only 6 things left to complete before we launch. Can you help?
  • My Joomla developer built me a site but never gave me any training. I don’t know how to make changes to my site. Can you help?
  • My Joomla developer doesn’t know how to add dropdown menus/a custom form/user profiles/etc to my site. I just need you to do that. Can you help?

If you ask about the developer, what you’ll discover is:

  • He’s the son of the nephew of a friend of yours and he’s gone back to college, where he’s partying away and has other things on his mind, which do not include your site.
  • She’s a high school/college student who built your site as part of a course. Three months later, she hasn’t used Joomla and she remembers nothing about it.
  • He’s picked this up as a hobby and does it in his spare time, typically after hours or on the weekends — when other activities don’t take priority.
  • She’s picked up how to put a Joomla site together at work, and now does it on the side. However, she doesn’t know much in the way of technology, so if something breaks or goes wrong, she doesn’t really know how to fix it.

The common thread running through those typical developer profiles is they are not making their living doing this kind of work. They’re doing this for extra money, in their free time. As a result, they are typically much cheaper than those who do make their living building websites.

When these potential clients find out my rate, they are taken aback. "Well, you’re twice as expensive as what the college kid was charging!" Yes, I am!

What do you want: Cheap, fast, or good. You can only pick two.

I’ve written about this before. Cheap isn’t necessarily the right solution for every business and organization. Neither is fast, and unfortunately, good is usually in third place if cheap is a priority.

What’s the downside to cheap?

Let’s say you can wait a while to get your site updated or finished, and you’re willing for your developer to have a learning curve in terms of the button clicking aspects of putting a site together. What are you missing by not hiring an "expensive" professional web developer, other than the big ticket price?

  • Strategic envisioning of the site. A website needs to start with basic questions:
    • What problem are you trying to solve?
    • Who are you trying to serve?
    • Where are people coming from, geographically, environmentally, organizationally? What is their mindset?
    • What do you want users to do when they come to your site?

    However, many inexperienced developers don’t ask these questions. They want to know if they have the right shade of blue, whether you also want a calendar or a blog, and the timeline for getting the project done. Those are all important questions too, but the first four questions need to be answered first.

  • Stuff you’ve never considered. I’ve built a lot of websites. I think of features and functionalities to include on a site that would never occur to my clients. That’s why you hire me — that’s my job.
  • Professional job with no rough edges. Anyone can click the buttons in Joomla. But to make a really professional looking and functioning site, it takes experience and training. Your site should integrate with your business plan, supporting wherever you want to take your organization.
  • Staying power. If you hire the right developer, they’ll be with you for a long time to come. You don’t need to worry about them going out of business. And if they do decide to change their own strategic direction or do something else, the responsible ones will refer you to someone else who will take care of you.
  • The job is done right at the beginning. I cannot tell you how many poorly built Joomla sites I’ve seen. They have poorly formed menus, smudgy photos, poorly supported extensions, and they’re generally not functioning well. That’s because the site owner hired someone who didn’t know what they were doing (or they tried to do it themselves). Later, after they’ve exhausted their "cheap" developer, or they’ve pushed the site past that developer’s limits, they bring in a more expensive developer, who may wind up building the site over, from scratch.

You get what you pay for

I know the economy is not good. I know that startup businesses have a dozen places to sink each dollar, that non-profits are all woefully underfunded, that colleges and universities had their endowments cut in half in the stock market. I know no one has any money.

I also know that in this economy, you owe it to yourself to spend your money wisely, in addition to well. The cheap solution isn’t always the right solution. For best results for those precious dollars, I recommend the following:

  • Find a true website partner. Find a professional who wants to know you and your organization. Inspire them to come up with creative solutions that will communicate your message and brand without spending a fortune. A partner will get you the best bang for your buck.
  • If you can’t have it all now, get the critical stuff done first, then plan for Phase 2. Sometimes your desires are larger than your pocketbook. A web development partner will tell you where that biggest bang for your buck is now, then build the site in such a way that it’s easy to add more functionality later, when you have more money.
  • Get the job done right. If the "bones" of the site are constructed correctly, it’s easy to add to the site later. If you’ve done your strategic envisioning correctly, you know exactly what those critical parts of the site are. By creating a solid foundation for your website, and perhaps spending a little more upfront, you can more easily add to that site later. If you’re slapping band-aids on your site in the beginning of the development process, you’re setting yourself up for spending much more money later.


2 responses to “Why you should hire a professional for your Joomla site in 2010”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You are so right.  Who wants to trust the vision that they have for their Website to someone who can’t complete the job.  I am looking for a Joomla expert, and just don’t know where to turn.  I am extremely excited about my site idea; bought the url, picked the template, have the hosting company, but I don’t want it set up wrong.  It’s extremely important that "the "bones" of the site are constructed correctly." I am at the crossroads of that decision.  Even if money were not an issue, it’s extremely difficult to know who to select and how to proceed.  I guess the way to begin is to get a consultation for experts as to how much constructing the bones will cost.
    Thanks for your article.  You are right on every point all the way through.

  2. Daniel says:

    Thank you such a great article.  I have received a number of these inquiries. Every time it seems that it would just be easier to start the site from scratch. I understand people having a hard time letting go of a previous investment, but sometimes it is a better idea to cut losses and hire someone that can do it right. Yes, your article certainly describes me!

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