A web developer can help you complete many important tasks that you may not be able to handle on your own.
At Reliablesoft we have experience hiring a variety of different types of developers to ensure our websites are always running at their best.
In this guide, I’ll share what you need to know before you hire a web developer for your digital business.
The Most Common Tasks You Might Need The Help of A Developer
If you run an online business, you will likely need the assistance of a web developer at some point.
Creating a website isn’t difficult, but ensuring it stays up and running while providing the latest in terms of functionality requires consistent work.
Here are some of the common reasons you may need to hire a web developer:
- You need help with page speed optimization
- You need to upgrade your web server and CMS to the latest versions
- You need to add conversion tracking code to your website
- You need help with conversion optimization (add event tracking, etc)
- You want to add custom functionality for your site
- You need help with a website redesign
- You need help debugging an issue
Before you begin looking for a developer to hire, you should determine if you need a developer on a part-time or full-time basis.
Hire a Part-Time or Full-Time Developer?
The best choice depends on the scope of your project(s). If you only need a one-off or temporary project, then you’ll only need a developer on a part-time basis.
If however, you need someone on-hand long term to manage your website or make frequent changes, you can benefit from having a full-time web developer.
Much of the talent pool of developers is flexible and works remotely. This makes it easy to find highly qualified candidates whether they are freelance, part-time, or full-time.
How to Hire a Good Web Developer
- Define your requirements
- Prepare your website
- Write a detailed job posting
- Post your job on popular job portals
- Prepare questions for the interview
- Ask for past work examples and view customer feedback
- Start with a short pilot project
- Agree on the exact deliverables, cost, and delivery time
- Ask for documentation and a logbook
1. Define your requirements
The first step to hiring a web developer for your business is to clearly define the tasks you need the developer to perform.
Upgrading your server will require an entirely different workflow and personnel than adding custom functionality to your site.
You’ll have a picture of the end results in your mind and the steps needed to get there.
This will allow you to quickly filter possible candidates according to the skillset and experience that are most relevant to your business.
Developers come with diverse backgrounds but typically center their focus in one of the following areas, frontend, backend, or full-stack.
Frontend developers make changes to the user-facing presentation layer of your website. They do so by taking web design files and converting them into code to create the environment that users interact with.
When considering a frontend web developer, it is important to distinguish the difference between a web designer and a developer.
Designers are more creative and tend to focus on layouts, color schemes, and other visual elements. In contrast, developers are more technically inclined.
Make sure that your needs are more in line with the technical aspects of building a website. If you are only looking to change the aesthetics and layout of your pages, you may be better off hiring a web designer.
Backend developers manage the behind-the-scenes structure that powers your website. Their work primarily focuses on databases, servers, scripting, and site architecture.
If you are looking to improve your site’s performance, integrate new tools, or resolve technical issues, a backend developer can help.
Backend developers are versed in a variety of technologies including Java, Ruby, PHP, as well as databases such as SQL, MySQL, MongoDB, and more.
A full-stack developer is experienced working with both the front and backends of websites.
They are popular among companies looking for a jack of all trades to handle all their development needs.
Frontend developers are also commonly employed by agencies that work on many different kinds of websites.
Full-stack developers tend to be more expensive than front or backend developers.
However, if your project requires both front and backend work, it can be less expensive to hire a full-stack developer instead of a frontend and backend developer to work on each area separately.
Determine your budget
Along with the type of developer, you’ll also need to specify your project’s budget.
Your budget will directly impact how much work you are able to complete and the level of talent you are able to hire.
If you are flexible on your budget, you can let potential developers submit quotes for how much they’ll charge to work on your projects.
2. Prepare your website
Once you’ve determined your web development requirements, you’ll need to prepare your website for the project.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that everything is ready for when the developer begins their work:
Create temporary user accounts – Your web developers will need a way to access the backend of your website without you handing over direct access to your admin account.
By creating a temporary user account they’ll be able to access the system while you maintain control. You can assign user-based permissions according to what the project entails.
This will determine exactly what the developer is able to see and do.
Provide access to cPanel (or other hosting platform) – Your web developer will need access to the dashboard used to manage your web hosting server.
This will allow them to upload files, install third-party software, and view server logs. For most websites, the hosting control panel will be cPanel.
Other popular hosting platforms include Plesk, RunCloud, and DirectAdmin.
Provide access to FTP – File transfer protocol (FTP) is used to transfer files between computers. Your web developer may need FTP access to add files to your server or make changes to your website.
Create a test website – Another effective way to streamline your web development project is to create a test environment or staging site for your developer to work in.
With a test website, the developer can try out different things to get a better idea of how to effectively implement changes to your live site.
No matter how skilled your developer is, the development process may temporarily impair functionality. If this were to happen on your live site it would result in an unnecessary loss of revenue.
But with a test site, the developer can work out the kinks while your business remains unaffected.
Creating a test site can be a straightforward process depending on your web host and CMS.
For instance, if you use Bluehost, Siteground, or WP Engine for hosting, you can set up a staging site with a few clicks in your hosting panel.
Furthermore, if you use WordPress as your CMS, there are a variety of plugins you can use to create the test site.
3. Write a detailed job posting
A detailed and well-written job posting is important to both your business and the interested developers.
Everyone who views your post will know right away if the opportunity is a good match.
If however, your job posting is missing important details, the developer may have expectations for the project that do not actually meet what you are looking to achieve.
Here are some of the ways to write a great job posting for your web developer candidates:
Clearly define the project requirements
By following the first step in our guide on how to hire a web developer, you should already have a clear understanding of the requirements for your web development project.
You want to include all these details so that potential developers know exactly what the project entails.
List the required skills
Your job posting should make it clear what skills you expect the developer to possess in order to complete the project successfully.
The most relevant skills to look for will depend on your particular project. Below are some of the skills you’ll want to consider listing on your post:
- HTML / HTML5
- Ecommerce platforms
Specify how long you’ll need their services
Your job posting should make it clear how long you’ll need the developer’s services. This means including how long the project will last. For instance, it could take a week, a month, or could be indefinite if it is a full-time position.
This also means including the time commitment required by the developer. For example, will they be working 20 hours a week, 40 hours a week, or some other amount of time?
Include samples of the desired outcome
Another way to bring clarity to the job description is to include samples of what you are looking to achieve. For example, if you want to add certain functionality to your site, you can include a link to a website that has such a feature.
This will not only provide the developer an idea of what you are looking for but can also open their mind to suggestions for improvements.
Add a design mockup
If you’re looking for a developer to help you redesign your website, a mockup can help developer candidates clearly understand what you are looking for from the engagement.
4. Post your job on popular job portals
With a solid job posting ready to go, you now must get it in front of potential candidates.
Because web development continues to grow in popularity, there is no shortage of job boards to find qualified candidates.
Our favorite place to find developers is UpWork. The platform is designed primarily for freelancers and has a deep talent pool.
There are also tons of features useful to both developers and business owners.
Here are some of the other freelance job portals to hire a web developer:
While freelance portals like UpWork do contain some full-time listings and people looking for a full-time role, most of the talent on the platform is looking for part-time contract work.
If you need a full-time developer for your business, you may want to consider using a job portal focused more on full-time positions.
Here are some of the best job boards to hire a full-time web developer:
You can also consider using large, generic job boards like Indeed or Glassdoor but through our experience, your search will be easier if you stick to portals geared towards tech positions.
5. Prepare questions for the interview
After you find a developer that has the skills and experience you are looking for, you can reach out to them to get to know them better.
There are a variety of ways you can interview developers to see if they are right for your business.
One method is to schedule a video call to have a virtual interview. In the call, you can ask them all sorts of questions like you would in a traditional face-to-face interview.
Another way is to respond to their application with a set of written questions. You can do this through email or directly through the job portal.
One thing to look for when asking questions is to see how fast the candidate responds. When working with a developer they need to be responsive in case something goes wrong.
If a candidate takes a long time to get back to you, it could be a sign that they are not a reliable choice for your business.
You also want to examine how much detail and attention they give to the questions you ask. This can be a good indicator of the amount of thought and effort they’ll put into their work.
Filtering out non-serious applications
It is not uncommon for job seekers (particularly freelancers) to mass apply for gigs without thoroughly reading what the project entails.
An effective way to weed these people out is to sneak a random question into your job posting to see if they answer it in their application.
If they do not answer the question in their application, you’ll know they did not read the job posting in its entirety.
6. Ask for past work examples and view customer feedback
As part of your screening process, you’ll want to see the work applicants have performed in the past.
By looking at a candidate’s previous work, you can quickly see if their previous experience is relevant to your current project.
Review their portfolio of previous projects as well as any code samples they may have on Github.
Seeing a developer’s previous work provides great insight but it doesn’t always give proper context.
A developer could provide a subjectively great deliverable, but it may not have achieved the goal of the project.
Because of this, it is also important to review feedback from previous clients to see if they were satisfied with the developer’s work.
Job portals such as UpWork can make the process of viewing client feedback easy. Upon completing a project, freelancers and clients have the ability to give each other a rating and a written review.
Customer reviews not only help you better understand a candidate’s development skills, but other attributes like communication, time management, and ability to apply feedback.
7. Start with a short pilot project
A pilot project is a great way to screen web developers to confirm that they are the right choice for your project.
Create a short assignment similar to that of your main project. It doesn’t need to be too long but should be thorough enough to assess the developer’s skills.
During the project, you’ll want to review the developer’s workflow and communication. This will give you a good sense of what it is like to work with the person.
8. Agree on the exact deliverables, cost, and delivery time
After you’ve found the right person for the job, you need to finalize the details for the project.
By agreeing on the exact deliverables you expect to receive you can avoid any confusion on the part of the developer. They will also be able to work more efficiently with clear expectations.
You should establish a clear deadline for the project so that the developer knows when to provide all the agreed-upon deliverables.
It is usually a good idea to budget for some extra time in case an unforeseen event arises. A small-time buffer can also help improve the developer’s work as they are less stressed to meet deadlines.
Keep in mind, the more experienced the developer, the more efficient they will be. Experienced developers can complete the same jobs as non-experienced developers in far less time and with fewer mistakes.
Cost is an important factor in your web development project as you’ll likely have a budget you need to maintain.
You can choose to pay the developer on an hourly basis or you can pay a fixed amount per project.
I recommend not hiring a developer without experience as the money you may save is not worth the potential problems with the project.
If you do choose to hire a web developer with less experience it can be a cost-effective idea to charge a fixed amount per project.
Doing so will save you from paying extra costs in the event of the project taking more time.
9. Ask for documentation and a logbook
When finalizing the deliverables for the project, you should make it clear to the developer that you want documentation for all the work performed during the job.
With a detailed logbook, you can see exactly what has been fixed, added, removed, or deprecated. The developer can also leave any notes related to security or other changes that they made.
Without a detailed logbook, you would need to look through the source code directly to see the change history.
This can make it difficult to apply modifications should any issues come up.
If you run an online business, you’ll likely need to hire a web developer at some point.
Web developers can help with a wide variety of tasks including upgrading your website architecture, adding new features, or changing your website design.
Based on your project requirements, you can hire a developer on a full or part-time basis.
No matter which option you choose, following the above steps will help ensure you land the right person for your project.