What Should I Tell a Web Developer When My Web Site Needs to Be Updated?

Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

If you believe it’s high-time to update your web site, and are thinking of approaching a new web developer about the work, here are the things you should let the new company know. These items will greatly assist a new web design / web development company in being able to provide you with an estimate.

  • First and foremost, what’s your main goal (e.g., any new functionality, new design aspects, etc.)?
  • Is the site running a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla? If so, when was it last updated and (if known) what version is it running now? It would also help a great deal if you can provide a login to the administrative area of the site.*
  • Do you know what themes / templates were installed, and what versions of those are running? What about other add-on extensions to the core system? Quite regularly, developers install themes, functional, and utilitarian add-ons to help the site work. All of these likely need regular updating.
  • Do you recall when, generally speaking, the site was last updated?
  • Where is the site hosted? Do you have server credentials available* (e.g., FTP, cPanel, etc.)?

In general, the longer it’s been since you’ve had any work done on your site, the more involved any updates may be. It can be quite surprising for some clients to get fairly high estimates back in some cases. For example, it’s not uncommon to be approached about updates to a site that’s more than 10 years old! In many cases like that, getting the site current can be nearly as much work as simply rebuilding it from scratch using modern tech. (Actually, if it’s that old, rebuilding from scratch might be a better option than an update.)

For simple sites, it’s reasonable to expect a fairly straightforward estimate — whether it’s hourly or a flat-fee will depend on the company. For larger or more complex sites, asking for an estimate may not be a realistic question because the estimate itself can get rather complex. You may need to instead hire the company to plan the update first. See this article for more explanation of this:

In any case, the above are the basics. I hope that helps any readers in their interactions with web development companies.


ps For (*) starred items above, please remember that it’s not a good idea to send passwords and/or other credentials via email. Instead, use a service like Dead-Drop.me, which allows you to store your passwords at a temporary URL, which you then send to the recipient, and which then gets destroyed as soon as the recipient receives it.


Jim Dee heads up Array Web Development, LLC in Portland, OR. He’s the editor of “Web Designer | Web Developer” magazine and a contributor to many online publications. You can reach him at: Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com.