Should You Work With a Consultant?

This website is meant to help nonprofits complete a successful do-it-yourself WordPress website project, but I’d be remiss to not briefly talk about the potential of getting outside help. There are plenty of reasons to consider getting at least a bit of paid help:

  • Your organization doesn’t have the staff capacity to spare someone to build an entire site. Remember, building a site in-house means using salaried staff time, so it’s not truly “free.”
  • None of your employees have the technical skills to build a website.
  • You want external and expert opinions to improve the outcome of your website.

Why Hire a Nonprofit Website Consultant?

Many sites built in-house or with volunteers look great at first site😜 sight yet don’t hold up when it comes to site speed, long-term maintainability, and serving as the foundation for future changes and improvements to the site.

I strongly encourage everyone to work with a consultant at least for assessment, planning, and education on best practices and appropriate WordPress tools. When you hire a WordPress consultant, you’re hiring experiencenot just technical skills.

However, I also hope this site serves as a free consultant for you, helping you make informed decisions when it comes to installing WordPress, picking a WordPress theme, implementing functionality via plugins, and entering your content.

Finding a Website Consultant for Nonprofits

It can be intimidating to find a good WordPress consultant. If you’re looking, I encourage you to take a variety of approaches to finding candidates:

  • Ask colleagues and peer organizations. Follow those tiny “site made by” links in the footers of sites you like of other organizations near you.
  • Consider attending WordPress meetups or web design meetups—often found on—to meet professionals in person who can help you. If there’s a chapter of an NTEN 501 Tech Club or NetSquared in your community, that’s a great source for nonprofit friendly web consultants.
  • WordCamp conferences, while less frequent than meetups, are another great place to meet people and learn a lot about WordPress. For a 1 or 2 day conference, they also tend to be extremely affordable, often as little as $20!
  • Look in consultant directories. If you’re in Washington state, I recommend the 501 Commons Consultants Directory which contains highly-vetted service providers with extensive nonprofit experience.

Vetting a WordPress Consultant for Nonprofits

Once you’ve found a few consultants, here are some questions you can ask them:

  1. Can you show me examples of sites you’ve built for similar organizations?
    Find people who have built sites you like. Make sure they’re easy to use and navigate.
  2. How long do you expect your sites to last, and how do you ensure they continue functioning for that time?
    I personally aim for sites to last 3-5 years at a minimum and offer a WordPress maintenance plan to help people with technical maintenance.
  3. What’s your process and how to work with your clients? What work am I expected to complete?
    This varies for each consultant. What’s important is that you understand and feel comfortable with that process.
  4. Do you support [specific tool] that my site needs?
    Try not to tell consultants what tools to use and how to do their jobs. That said, if you have an existing site and need support for a major plugin like a page builder (e.g. Elementor or Divi) or ecommerce tool (e.g. WooCommerce), then it’s best to find a consultant that specifically supports that tool. This will also help quickly rule out consultants that explicitly don’t support those tools.
  5. Do they capitalize the “P” in “WordPress” in written communication?
    This is a common pet peeve of us experienced WordPressers! While it might not seem like a huge deal, that P shows an attention to detail and an immersion in the world of WordPress.

Finally, as you collect this information, focus on the overall communication style and skills. Can you imagine working with this person for months or even years? More than almost anything else, clear communication is key to a successful project, so interact with any potential consultant for long enough to feel comfortable interacting with them!

RFPs are a popular way to find and vet website consultants, but they’re usually a bad idea for for nonprofit websites. Learn more about alternatives to the RFP.

Further Reading

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