How to hire web developers
Web development covers a lot of territory—spanning server-side to client-side coding, and everything in between. It’s important to narrow down what aspect of (or problem with) your application, site, or back-end operations you need help with.
First, define the work that needs to be done. Then consider project duration or time to completion. Web development projects can range from weeks to months or more. The length of time is often determined by the developer based on your project description, but it’s generally good practice to provide an estimate or a deadline, if applicable. From there, you should consider breaking down the project into the specific technologies your web developer will need to be familiar with, such as technology in your existing stack, frameworks you’re using, any cloud-based deployment or computing services, or API and database integrations the developer will need to work with. Once you’ve defined your project scope, it can be helpful to further divide it into phases. Take a moment to break the project into developmental phases with specific deliverables and deadlines.
How to shortlist web developers
As you’re browsing available web development consultants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the freelancers you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Technology fit.You want a web developer who understands your technology stack (e.g., MEAN) so that they can slide into your developer workflow.
- Organization.Good code is well documented—you want a developer whose work can be understood by the rest of your team.
- Feedback. Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular web developer.
- Portfolio.What aspects of development projects have they handled before? What were the results?
Sample web developer interview questions
The interview is an opportunity for you to learn more about a web developer’s approach, creativity, experience, and talent.
Prepare your interview questions ahead of time so you can feel confident that you’ve covered all relevant points. We’ve created a list of interview questions for a variety of web development areas of expertise that you can reference, but here are some additional questions to consider:
- “What do you think of our existing app/site?”
- Tailor this to ask about something related to your development project, or to learn whether they’ve done their homework.
- “Tell me about three development projects you’ve worked on?”
- Ask about their most similar projects, favorite projects, or most recent. Listen for how they solved the initial problem, challenges that came up during the process, and what they did to address them.
- “What’s your production timeline?”
- Get more details about how quickly they work, how much time they’ve spent on previous projects, and how they receive and implement feedback.
- “What makes a great [insert type of project here]?”
- Learn more about how they’ll approach your project as well as their experience with similar work.
Using your observations and their responses, engage the web developer who has the talent, development experience, and mindset to excel with your particular project.
How to write an effective web developer job post
With a clear picture of your ideal web developer in mind, it’s time to write that job post. Although you don’t need a full job description as you would when hiring an employee, aim to provide enough detail for a contractor to know if they’re the right fit for the project.
An effective web development job post should include:
- Scope of work: From database migrations to payment gateways, list all the deliverables you’ll need.
- Project length: Your job post should indicate whether this is a smaller or larger project.
- Background: If you require help with both the front end and the back end of a technology stack, mention this here.
- Budget: Set a budget and note your preference for hourly rates vs. fixed-price contracts.
Ready to create a website that will help you maximize the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaign? Log in and post your web development job on Upwork today.
WEB DEVELOPERS FAQ
What is web development?
Web development is best divided into two roles: the front-end developer who codes UI elements such as the search bar, drop-down menus, and forms, and the back-end developer who handles the data management and business logic that powers the app behind the scenes. While web developers can handle both roles, they usually specialize in either the front end or the back end of a technology stack.
What does a front-end web developer do?
Everything from the manner in which web content like articles and videos are displayed to design choices like fonts and color schemes, to the overall layout of a web page must be implemented by a front-end developer.
- CSS preprocessors like Sass or LESS
- Libraries like jQuery or Backbone.js
- Front-end (CSS) frameworks like Foundation or Bootstrap
Note: Advanced front-end developers will have a mix of front-end and back-end technology expertise, including solution stacks like MEAN or LAMP, and server-side technologies like Node, Java, or Ruby.
What does a back-end web developer do?
The back-end of a website consists of a database, an application, and a server. A back-end developer is essentially responsible for how data is stored, retrieved, and otherwise managed within a website.
The typical back-end developer’s skillset might look something like this:
- API design and development
- CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete)
- RESTful Services
- Cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and Cisco
- Database technologies like MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.
- Web server technologies like Node.js, J2EE, Apache, Nginx, ISS, etc.
- Frameworks related to their server-side language of choice like: Express.js, Ruby on Rails, CakePHP, etc.
Why hire web developers?
A web developer can help bring your web site or application to life with programming, frameworks, and integrations. A front-end web developer builds everything a user sees and experiences on a website. They take storyboards, UI/UX mockups, and abstract design concepts and turn them into functioning front-end features like dynamic embedded elements, sliders, drop-down menus, and call to action buttons. A back-end developer builds the web services, APIs, and database management logic that provide the scaffolding upon which the front-end of a website is built. A full-stack developer can handle both front- and back-end development responsibilities.
How much does it cost to hire a web developer?
Here are a few cost factors you can consider to make the planning and budgeting process a bit smoother. Think of these as a general framework for approaching your project.
Cost Factor #1: Scope
Scope is an important consideration for any development project—and one that can quickly spiral out of its original estimation (and budget). Document your idea clearly to help give you (and interested freelancers) a scope determination. When you define your scope, be as detailed as possible with the developer. The more details you provide, the more accurate their proposal and estimate.
When determining scope, don’t underestimate the amount of code your project might require. It’s a common problem many clients have—and by not fully understanding the amount of code that goes into a web project’s modules, you might run into scope creep by under-budgeting. A software project may seem small to a non-developer, but some modules require a lot of engineering and coding. This is one reason it’s important to articulate your ideas to a developer, even if you believe it’s simple and wouldn’t take much time.
You can also help reduce the cost of a project by requesting a minimal viable product (MVP). This type of project include the very minimum amount of features and design needed for you to test it in the market. This will help reduce your scope, and you can always expand the MVP should the project be successful. Consider creating your application in phases so that you can build on your software slowly, test thoroughly, and build revenue as each phase is being coded.
Cost Factor #2: Agency versus single specialist
An agency is often a “one size fits all” model, so you’ll have access to a designer, project manager, engineer, and more.
With a single developer, if you need more than just development help to get your application launched, note that you’ll need to hire the others separately. This can be more costly and time consuming since you’ll be responsible for communicating with each person separately facilitating communication between all parties.
In this case, it can be less expensive to hire an agency’s services with an hourly rate. With an agency, you can have all individuals under one roof, so you only need to work with the agency’s project manager and attend presentations from the programmers on their progress. This can be much less stressful for the client that doesn’t fully understand how web projects are typically handled. It’s also easier for each person on the agency’s team to communicate, because they’re under one roof—figuratively, of course.
Before, we mentioned that some web developers are “full stack,” meaning they do both design and development, which can be beneficial for a small business. However, if the size of your project requires more than one person to get it done, it could be more cost-effective to hire a full-service agency vs. a full-stack developer, so you have access to all the talent (and skill sets) you need.
Cost Factor #3: Platform
Web projects generally run on one of two different platforms: Linux or Windows. Windows hosting can be more expensive than Linux because Windows charges for licenses, however Linux platforms make money through support contracts. Even with cheaper programming costs, you still need a developer that works with your language. For the most part, programming ranges are similar for web development languages, but here’s a general idea of what rates contractors charge.
Rates charged by web developers
|Type of Project||Description||Average Hourly Rate|
|Basic One-Page Site||Just one-page coding. A basic lead-gen page or landing page.||$15-40 +|
|CMS Code Customization (WordPress, Joomla, etc.)||Basic customizations of your theme’s code or general functionality of a common CMS platform.||$30-75 +|
|Full Custom Site Code (typically enterprise)||Building a design from scratch with custom code and design elements. Usually, a large project that requires coding from the ground up.||$75-150 +|