What to Look for in a Web Developer (and Where to Find One)

So you’ve decided that you’re going to need to hire a developer for this new website.

You’ve probably made the right decision. So congratulations!

But now you need to go out and find the right developer. And now we’ve opened up a whole new set of questions.

Where do you even begin? What should you look for in a developer? How do you know which one is going to be the right fit for you and your business? Again, we’re ending up in decision paralysis.

So today, let’s go through some of the questions you should be asking yourself and the developers in your search process. And then we’ll discuss some places where you can find a developer.

Let’s get started!

What does the portfolio look like?

So obviously, the first thing you should be looking through when you’re looking at a developer is their portfolio. What do their projects look like? Are they pleasing? Are they things that you would like to see on your website, at least in general terms?

Then go to these websites and play around on them. Test all of the functionality. Does it all work like you expect it to? Are they high-quality websites? And do you like them?

Ideally this portfolio should show that they’re a competent developer. Even if this person doesn’t maybe have a lot of client work, they should have a lot of other work, either from schoolwork to just freelance work or other things that they’ve done.

It’s also worth mentioning that you should see if they’ve contributed to any open source projects, like WordPress or Drupal. Open source projects usually have high coding standards, so contributing to those projects is no small task. If they’re contributing to these projects on a regular basis, then you can be confident that they know what they’re doing.

So take the time to look at the portfolio to see if that’s something that you like. Then move onto the next questions.

Do they talk about what they’ve learned?

All web developers are learning new things all the time. Trust me. Every time I take on a new project, I learn a lot of new things.

And good developers write about what they’ve learned so that others can learn. It’s something I’ve tried to do a lot here, especially with more advanced coding topics like Gutenberg, MySQL databases and just PHP. And if you can teach others a certain topic, then you can be certain that you know what you’re talking about.

So, look to see if the developer has written tutorials or written about other experiences that they’ve had. You can get great insight to how they work and see if they really know what they are doing. And if they seem like they know what they’re talking about, the chances are pretty high that they can really help you out on this website.

Do they have similar experience?

Also, when you’re looking at someone’s portfolio, you should check to see what types of websites that they’ve built and if any of them are similar to yours.

For example, if you’re wanting to add an online store, have they built online stores before? Or have they worked with other small businesses in the past? Sometimes that familiarity helps move things along quicker and smoother.

That being said, it isn’t the end all be all if you like a developer’s work but they haven’t worked with someone like you. We do have the ability to learn and if they are a high quality developer, they’re going to be able to figure out how to adapt and build the website that you want.

How do you get along?

Another thing you’ll want to check out is to see how the two of you would get along if you were business partners.

This step likely requires some sort of meeting which can be a bit tricky. But most developers will want to meet with you either via phone, in-person talk or video chat just to figure out if they want to bring you on as a client.

And in essence this is a two-way interview. You’re going to be figuring out if they really match their portfolio and if can help you. And in turn, they’re looking to see if you’re going to be a good client they want to bring onboard.

And if you feel they’re going to be a great fit for you and they reciprocate the feeling, then maybe this is the developer you want to be working with.

Where to find a developer

So now that we’ve talked about what you should be looking for in a developer, let’s talk about where you can find one. Because this can be a pretty tricky process.

Right away, you’re probably thinking about going to Fiverr or Upwork to see who you can get to apply for this job. And I will caution you that this might not go the way you think it will.

Really, with those sites it’s hit or miss whether you’re going to find a quality developer that’s going to build the website that you want. In order to attract quality devs, you need to be paying quality prices. That means putting down $2,000 down for the total project or $50 per hour as a budget. I immediately skip pass any project that has $100 or less for a website. And I’ve also seen someone put up $50 for an entire website, which is both hilarious and sad.

There’s also the tried and true referral method. Ask friends, both in and outside of your area of expertise about websites that they’ve had built and who they might recommend for you. And then check out those leads to see if they would be good hires.

Elsewhere, if you’re looking for more of a local developer, a good old Google search, like “Mansfield web developers”, doesn’t hurt either. In fact, a local dev might be a better option since you can meet face-to-face anytime. And to be honest, I kind of like that with my clients.

Also, if you’re wanting to use WordPress, I highly recommend checking out local WordPress meetups and WordCamps to meet other developers, business people and just website folks. I help organize one here in Fort Worth and every meetup that we have, we always have people looking for someone to build their website or just help them out with a part of their website. And we really love helping them.

Next steps

But really take the time to look around in the various places to see who you can find. Casting a wide net and then narrowing it down based off this criteria will help you in this process. This is a crucial decision. Picking the right developer can make this a breeze. But pick the wrong one and this becomes a major headache. Take your time with this decision.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in comments below or reach out on social media. You can also learn more about creating a website for your business over on my website. I have a bevy of resources and blog posts that can help you make informed decisions during this entire process.

When you’re ready to move on to the next step, I’ll see you in the next video.

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