15+ Tips When Looking To Hire a Web Developer

Understanding how to hire a web developer is paramount when delving into the digital landscape. The success of your project hinges on this critical decision. Navigating through this process involves comprehensively evaluating your project requirements, assessing potential hires’ portfolios and technical skills, and considering communication practices, cultural fit, and problem-solving abilities.

It’s equally important to vet references, discuss budget and timeline expectations, and establish clear agreements. This guide will walk you through each step, ensuring you’re well-equipped to hire a web developer that aligns with your project’s needs and your company’s culture.

1) Define Your Project Requirements Clearly

Before embarking on the journey to hire a web developer, it’s crucial to understand your project clearly. What are your goals? What features are non-negotiable, and what would be nice to have?

Your project’s success hinges on the clarity of your vision. Do you need a complete website or just some functional updates? Are you looking for a professional design or content management system? Defining these requirements will narrow the pool of potential developers and ensure you find the right fit.

Don’t forget about maintenance. Websites aren’t one-and-done projects; they require ongoing attention to stay relevant and functional. Consider this in your planning phase and communicate it with potential developers.

2) Determining Development Approach

The Standish Group reports that only 29% of IT project implementations are successful, and 19% are considered absolute failures. The reasons for these failures often include poor communication, a lack of planning, or mismatched skill sets. To decrease the likelihood of project failure, it’s essential to determine the development approach that best suits your project.

Next, decide on your development approach.

Web development is a complex process that can be broken down into three main methodologies: waterfall, agile and Hybrid.

  1. The waterfall approach follows a strict sequence of steps, from defining the project to designing and developing websites, testing, and delivering the final product. It’s a linear process where one phase must be completed before moving on to the next.
  2. On the other hand, the agile methodology embraces flexibility, allowing for scope changes and ongoing revisions throughout the development cycle. This approach is more collaborative, with regular communication and feedback loops between the client and the web development team.
  3. Lastly, the hybrid approach combines elements of both waterfall and agile methodologies to balance structure and flexibility. This approach is useful for projects that require a mix of predictability and adaptability.

Consider your project’s complexity, timeline, budget, and goals when choosing the development approach that best suits your needs.

freelance website developer

3) Freelance Web Developers Vs Agency: Which Is Right For Your Project?

Now that you understand your project’s requirements and preferred development approach, it’s time to decide whether to hire a freelance developer or work with an agency.

Both options have their pros and cons. An individual web developer may have lower rates, but they may be limited in terms of experience and skill sets. On the other hand, a web development agency usually has a team of experts and can handle larger projects, but this may come at a higher cost.

Consider your project’s size, complexity, budget, and timeline when deciding which option is right for you. Additionally, consider if you prefer working with one dedicated individual or a team of developers.

website portfolio

4) Assess Developer Portfolios and Experience

When you’re looking to hire a web developer, their portfolio is your window into their capabilities. It’s more than just a collection of websites they’ve created; it’s a testament to their practical skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

Review Types of Past Projects and Clients

A talented web developer will have an extensive portfolio showcasing their past work across various industries. Look for projects similar to yours in terms of complexity and functionality. This can give you an idea of their experience developing websites like yours.

Also, pay attention to the clients they’ve worked with. Have they developed web applications for big brands? Or do they specialize in helping small businesses establish a professional web presence? Understanding their client base can help you gauge if they’re the right fit for your business needs.

Relevant Expertise and Specific CMS Experience

The best site developers have more than just technical skills; they have relevant expertise. Do they have experience with search engine optimization or mobile optimization? Have they worked with specific content management systems (CMS) you prefer, such as WordPress themes?

Remember, the goal isn’t just to find any web developer but to find the right one for your project.

5) Technical Skills Evaluation

Evaluating the technical skills of potential web developers is crucial. This will help you identify their strengths and weaknesses and ensure they have the skills to execute your project successfully.

What Languages Do They Use?

Web development involves a variety of programming languages. Ask potential developers what languages they use most often. Common ones include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and Python. Understanding their preferred languages can provide insight into their approach to web development.

Assess Coding Practices and Standards

Good developers follow best coding practices and industry standards. This ensures the quality of their work and improves speed optimization and future maintenance. Ask about their approach to version control, a key practice in web development to track and manage changes to the codebase.

team collaboration

6) Communication and Collaboration Abilities

Responsiveness and Clarity in Communication

When you’re looking to hire a web developer, their responsiveness and clarity in communication are essential. The right web developer should be able to articulate complex technical concepts in simple terms. They should also be open to answering your questions and providing updates on project development regularly.

Being responsive means they acknowledge your emails, messages, or calls promptly. This is a crucial aspect of good customer service and shows respect for your time. Delayed responses can slow down development and can be frustrating.

On the other hand, clarity in communication ensures that both parties have the same understanding of the project’s requirements. A talented web developer will ask relevant questions to understand your business needs better and deliver a functional website that meets your expectations.

Comfort Answering Questions

A competent web developer should be comfortable answering all your questions, no matter how trivial they might seem. Whether it’s about their programming language expertise, approach to mobile optimization, or how they handle version control, they should be able to provide clear and concise answers.

Their willingness to answer questions reveals their problem-solving skills and commitment to transparency. It also provides insight into their technical skills and extensive knowledge, helping you determine if they fit your project.

7) Cultural and Language Considerations

Managing Potential Barriers

Cultural and language barriers can pose significant challenges when hiring web developers, especially from freelance marketplaces. Hiring developers proficient in the language you’re comfortable with is important to ensure smooth development.

Additionally, understanding cultural nuances can help prevent misunderstandings. For instance, some cultures value direct communication, while others prefer a more indirect approach. Having this awareness can help manage potential barriers and ensure effective collaboration.

Accommodating Time Zones

When you hire a web developer or a web development team from a different time zone, coordinating meetings and updates can be tricky. However, this shouldn’t deter you from hiring talented web developers wherever they may be.

It’s about finding a balance and setting clear expectations from the start. Discuss and agree on specific times for updates and meetings that work for both parties. This way, you can ensure timely progress without causing inconvenience to either party.

8) Check References and Reviews

When you’re in the process of hiring a web developer, it’s essential to do your due diligence. This involves checking their references and reviews from past clients and third-party reputation sites.

Past Client Testimonials

A web developer can have an impressive portfolio, but what do their past clients say about their experience? You can request testimonials or contact information of previous clients to get first-hand feedback.

This will give you insights into their professionalism, reliability, and responsiveness. It’s also a great way to gauge their problem-solving skills and how they handle development challenges.

Third-Party Reputation Sites and Forums

Besides direct client testimonials, third-party reputation sites and forums like Stack Overflow and freelance marketplaces can provide valuable insights. These platforms often have reviews and ratings that reflect the developer’s reputation in the industry.

You can also assess their industry trends, knowledge, and hard skills by examining their contributions to discussions on these forums. This can help you hire a web developer with the right skills and extensive knowledge.

culture fit and work style

9) Consider Culture Fit and Work Style

Hiring a web developer is not just about their technical skills and experience. Cultural fit and work style are crucial in ensuring a successful collaboration.

Similar Work Ethics and Values

A web developer with a similar work ethic and values as your business can add value to your project. This ensures everyone is aligned towards the same goal, creating a positive working relationship.

For instance, hiring a developer who prefers to work independently may not be the best fit if your business values teamwork and collaboration. Similarly, if you prioritize attention to detail and quality in your projects, a developer with a more relaxed approach may not meet your expectations.

Compatible Work Pace and Values

It’s also crucial to consider if their work pace and values align with yours. Some developers might prefer a fast-paced environment with tight deadlines, while others thrive in a more relaxed setting.

In addition, their values should resonate with your company’s culture. For instance, if your company values innovation and creativity, you’ll want to hire web developers who share these values.

problem solving skills

10) Evaluate Problem-Solving Skills

In the realm of web development, problem-solving skills are invaluable. When hiring a web developer, it’s important to assess their ability to troubleshoot issues and find effective solutions.

Technical Interview Questions/Tests

A developer’s problem-solving skills can be evaluated through technical interview questions or tests. Ask questions that require them to think critically and solve complex problems. For instance, you could provide a scenario where they have to optimize a slow-loading website or fix a broken feature in an application.

Tests can also be a useful tool. You could ask potential hires to perform a coding task or debug code. This will test their technical skills and give insight into their thought process and problem-solving approach.

Scenarios Requiring Troubleshooting

Presenting scenarios that require troubleshooting is another effective way to assess a developer’s problem-solving skills. These could be real-life situations from past projects or hypothetical scenarios.

For example, how would they handle a situation where a web application crashes during peak usage times? Their answer can reveal their understanding of web development best practices and ability to perform under pressure.

11) Validating Technical Expertise

A developer’s technical expertise forms the backbone of their ability to create functional websites. As such, it’s crucial to validate their proficiency in various aspects of web development.

Code Reviews

Conducting code reviews is a great way to validate a developer’s technical expertise. Ask them to share samples of their past work and review their code. Look for clean and efficient coding practices, proper use of comments, and adherence to coding standards.

You can also assess their understanding of different programming languages and ability to write optimized code. A good developer will write code that is functional, easy to read, and maintain.

Following Security Best Practices

Security is a critical aspect of web development. When hiring web developers, it’s important to ensure they follow security best practices.

Ask them about their approach to web security and how they protect web applications from common security threats. Their answer should reflect a deep understanding of secure coding practices and the ability to implement security measures effectively.

12) Onboarding and Knowledge Transfer

When you hire a web developer, onboarding is crucial in ensuring a smooth transition. It involves providing the necessary documentation, explaining code comments, and, if required, training replacement developers.

  1. Documentation: The right web developer will understand the importance of documentation in web development. This includes both technical and user documentation. Technical documentation provides an overview of how the code works and how the various components of the website or web application interact. User documentation, on the other hand, guides end-users on how to use the website or application effectively.
  2. Code Commenting: Good developers make it a habit to comment on their code. Code comments explain the purpose of a piece of code and how it contributes to the website’s overall functionality. When you hire a web developer, ensure they follow this best practice. This will make it easier for future developers to understand and maintain the code.
  3. Training Replacement Developers: You may sometimes need to train replacement developers. The developer you hire should be capable of transferring their extensive knowledge to these new developers. This could involve walkthroughs of the code, explaining the development process, and guidance on maintaining the website or application.

13) Test Assignments or Trial Periods

Before making a long-term commitment, having a test assignment or a trial period is often beneficial. This allows you to assess the developer’s skills in a real-world context.

Small Paid Trial Phase

A small paid trial phase is an effective way to evaluate a web developer’s capabilities. You can assign them a small project or a part of a larger project. This provides insight into their technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and ability to meet deadlines. It also gives you a glimpse of what it’s like to work with them, helping you decide if they fit your company’s culture and work style best.

Shared Repo Working Relationship

A shared repo working relationship involves giving the developer access to a shared code repository. This allows you to assess their ability to collaborate with other developers, proficiency in version control systems, and adherence to coding standards. It also lets you evaluate their code commenting practices and their ability to write clean, maintainable code.

budget planning

14) Discuss Budget and Timeline Expectations

When hiring a web developer, discussing budget and timeline expectations upfront is important. This ensures transparency and sets the foundation for a successful working relationship.

Get Fee Structure in Writing

A professional web developer will have a clear and detailed fee structure. This might be based on hourly rates, project milestones, or a complete website package. Regardless of the model, writing this before moving forward is essential.

Having the fee structure in writing helps avoid misunderstandings and disputes later on. It also provides a reference point to ensure the services rendered align with the agreed-upon costs. Developing websites is an investment, and understanding the cost breakdown can help you plan your budget effectively.

Align on Payment Terms

Another crucial aspect to discuss is the payment terms. Will you pay the freelance web developer upfront, after project completion, or in installments linked to specific deliverables?

Aligning on payment terms helps maintain a healthy cash flow for both parties. It also contributes to a smooth project development process, eliminating financial uncertainties that could delay the project.

15) Finalize Agreements and Contracts

Once you’ve discussed budget and timeline expectations, it’s time to finalize agreements and contracts. This is a critical step in the hiring process and entails clearly defining terms, scope, and rights.

Clearly Define Terms, Scope, Rights

A well-drafted contract should clearly outline the terms of engagement, the project’s scope, and both parties’ rights. This includes details about the web development tasks, project timelines, and deliverables.

The contract should also stipulate the rights over the completed website and its content. Typically, once paid, the rights to the website and its content transfer from the web developer to the client.

Furthermore, the contract should address scenarios such as project termination, dispute resolution, and confidentiality. This ensures both parties are protected and know what to expect in different circumstances.

working relationships

16) Maintaining the Relationship

Once you’ve navigated the hiring process and found the right web designer, focusing on maintaining a healthy and productive working relationship is important. This is key to ensuring the success of your web development project.

  • Regular Check-ins: Keeping open lines of communication is critical. Regular check-ins allow you to monitor the project’s progress, address any issues promptly, and ensure that the project is on track to meet the agreed timelines. These meetings can also serve as a platform for the developer to ask questions, seek clarification, or share updates.
  • Providing Feedback: Constructive feedback is a vital part of the development process. Whether it’s about the website’s design, functionality, or speed optimization, sharing your thoughts and suggestions can help the developer improve their work. Remember, excellent communication is key to achieving the desired results.
  • Assigning Follow-on Projects: If you’re satisfied with the developer’s work, consider assigning them follow-on projects. This gives them a sense of job security and helps them maintain consistency in their web presence. Over time, they’ll gain an extensive understanding of your business needs, which can lead to more efficient and effective web dev in the future.


Learning how to hire a web developer is crucial for anyone looking to establish a strong online presence. The process may be time-consuming, but finding the right fit between the developer and client can make all the difference.

A well-selected web developer can translate your vision into a functional, professional website that meets your business needs. By focusing on skills, experience, and cultural fit, you can hire a web developer who will help you navigate the ever-evolving world of web development.

Remember, it’s not just about hiring a web developer; it’s about building a relationship that fosters collaboration, innovation, and mutual growth. So, take your time, do your homework, and make a decision that aligns with your business goals and values.

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