Inevitably there will come a time that you may run into a bit of trouble and will need the desperate help of a qualified professional. Even the most experienced developer or designer will need help with something throughout his/her career. Whether you need some simple design changes or your website has been hacked, there is no need to feel overwhelmed.
Regardless of what type of service you need, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. As a beginner you might not know exactly what type of service you need, so I have listed a few tips to keep in mind when trying to hire a consultant to assist you along your journey and a few places to find experienced professionals.
Typical Website Problems and How to Fix Them
- Your website is down or your website has been hacked. First contact your hosting provider. If you have chosen Hostgator to register a domain, than this part should be easy for you since they offer 24 hour online technical support via chat and through their toll free number (1-866-96-GATOR). If you have doing incremental backups of you website (see Secure and Backup Your Files), then they will be able to assist you in uploading your files. If not, your hosting provider backups up their own servers once a week (or twice a month depending on your hosting provider). After you get your files restored, contact a web programmer or developer.
- Need website design changes. Contact a web designer. Web designers typically work on the way a website looks, the interface. This includes colors, graphics and possibly CSS/XHTML.
- Need website functionality. Call a web programmer or developer.
If you think you might want a custom search function, or information displayed on the page differently you will need to call a web developer or programmer.
- Trouble with WordPress, Joomla, etc. Call a web programmer or developer.
This is a person who specializes in the content management system you use. Just because a developer is experienced with WordPress doesn’t mean they are experienced in troubleshooting Joomla, and vice versa.
- Move your site up in Google Search. Call a consultant who is experienced in search engine optimization.
Some seo tricks you can do yourself (see search engine optimization), but others may want the help of an expertise.
How to Be a Awesome Client
After you have determined your problem, it’s time to get a good understanding of how to approach a contractor or consultant and get the most for your money.
- Don’t be cheap. This website is your life blood, it is an extension of you so don’t look for the cheapest person that offers you help. If you had a life threatening disease would you trust your mortality to the cheapest doctor available? No? Well, keep that in mind when choosing a consultant. Appreciate the value of the service the consultant will be providing and take into consideration designers and developers need to earn a living too. Once you decided to solicit bids for completing the work, you will get a wide range of prices and consider all of them along with their experience. Cheaper isn’t always better.
- Don’t be a know-it-all. No one likes being told how to do their job, so don’t approach a consultant with a, “I probably know more about this than you attitude”. This is typically a professional that needs to outsource their own work, or an amateur web designer who feels that their level of expertise is on par with professional web designers. Just remember, you need the help of a consultant because you can’t figure out the problem yourself, so let them do their job!
- Be short and to the point. The consultant won’t know exactly what you need done, unless you can articulate your situation clearly. Try to do a bit of research on your problem first, and if that can’t be done try to at least have a good understanding of the correct terminology (see the web dictionary). Being able to explain your problem clearly in the beginning can help save you money and time in the long run.
- Don’t do add-ons. Once the scope of work has been decided, don’t add-on extra work, this is every web designer/developer’s worst nightmare. Not only because you are not taking in consideration the consultant’s time, but also because a web designer, web developer, programming and theme coders are all different jobs. Sometimes you can hire a professional that is familiar with more than one discipline, but most times a consultant will specialize in one. So this means, a web designer isn’t a programmer. A web developer might not know how to setup a blog and modify a theme. A theme coder may not know how to troubleshoot problems with your server or hosting.
- Be open and accommodating. No doubt your consultant will be helping you gain an understanding of your problem. This is an opportunity to try and learn new things. Don’t be afraid to try a new service or process to help move the project along smoothly. Consultants have lots of tools at their disposal and may use collaboration software, payment gateways and project management services to help organize their business. Don’t get freaked out. Talk to your consultant and ask them any questions you have regarding getting started and get started. Who knows? You might even like some of the new technologies you are being introduced to.
- Don’t be a web pirate. Pirates see something they want and just take it. The same thing happens online. If you want a website designed don’t just steal someone else’s idea. This has happened to me several times and honestly, it’s just really annoying. Clients who want to copy another website design happens more frequently than it should. Be careful: you don’t want to run into any copyright infringements (see Copyright Laws). There is a difference between creating a design that can compete with their competition and ripping off a website completely. When doing a website for a start-up business, it’s good to look at the competitor’s websites and find things that you can improve on, but you should never copy them directly.
- I need this done yesterday! Clients tend to think they are their consultants only priority. This is far from the truth. A experience and respected consultant doesn’t want to drop deadlines on their existing work to accommodate another project, because in the long run, everyone loses. Your consultant may have other commitments that must be met, so be sure to give them a realistic expectation of when you need a project done based on the details, and both your set a reasonable time-frame for the project in the initial proposal. Just remember the fact that you needed it yesterday is you problem, not theirs.
There are many options online to find consultants within a specfifc niche. When I have needed help with my WordPress themes or admin work, there are a few places I turn during a time of need. I typically outsource projects I just don’t have time to do or do want to do. I have no problem searching the web to find a consultant and hire them after a few chats over email. However I would never suggest that to someone just starting out.
Elance is a place to outsource projects to freelancers, professionals, experts, and consultants. You can find expert programmers, designers, coders, writers, developers, translators, marketers, researchers and admin contractors with tested skills. Search for a freelance consultants and contact them directly or post a project to receive bids from around the world. I have used this several times and have always been pleased with the results. The good thing about Elance is that you don’t have to pay the individual directly. Payments and progress is monitored in the admin area so that all parties involved know the status of the project.
Liveperson offers a unique service, especially for individually who just need a few quick questions answered. Their service gives you the opportunity to pay for the time of a consultant by the minute. Which is handy if you are short on time and money. They have experts on social media, web design, web development, programming and even home networking and computers.