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Full Guide on Hiring Freelance Web Developers

by YOSS Community Writer, on July 26, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Virtually all companies need web development in some form or another to stay relevant in our modern digital society. Thus, knowing how to hire a web developer is essential so that you can create your digital footprint and maintain it.

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What Do Web Developers Do?

Back in the mid-1990s, web development was considered pretty easy compared to now. All a developer needed to know was basic HTML and some JavaScript. Today, HTML is far more advanced, JavaScript is more important than ever, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) have been added to the web developer’s tool kit. Additionally, a lot of the web development process is performed on the back-end with languages like PHP and Python.

Front-End Web Development

Front-end web development depends upon three technologies:

  • HTML: This is where the content goes, including browser-created images as of the release of HTML5.
  • CSS: The way web pages are structured visually.
  • JavaScript: The programming language of the web.

Back-End Web Development

The front- and back-ends of web development are not completely separate because they communicate with each other. Once the page is rendered on the user's browser, it can send requests to the server that allow real-time data to be exchanged.

Mostly, however, back-end web development is focused on programming pages that serve pages that are personalized based on cookies as well as the user's time, location, and similar attributes.

What Skills Do Web Developers Need?

Front-end developers need to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. That's not all, of course. Increasingly, websites are developed with HTML/CSS frameworks, which allow for simplified coding and generally create mobile-friendly web pages by default. By using these frameworks, you can set up or use existing templates to create clean HTML on top of.

There are a number of popular HTML/CSS frameworks. In addition, there are simple template systems. The importance of using one of these depends upon the project. Bootstrap is by far the most used framework according to  BuiltWith. It has roughly 75% of the market with 24% going to  HTML5 Boilerplate  (template). The only framework that appears in the study is  Semantic UI  with 0.16%.

There are also many JavaScript frameworks and libraries that greatly reduce development time, and  jQuery  is the most popular option. It’s a library that allows you to work with HTML page elements in a simple way, such as changing the color of every H2 tag, for example.

Back-End Development Skills

Back-end development is much like front-end development with frameworks and libraries: the knowledge that is important will depend upon the project at hand.

Windows vs Linux

According to W3Techs, 70% of the  top 10 million websites  run on Linux servers with the rest running on Windows. But the numbers get much closer when looking only at the  top 1 million websites: 37% Linux, 30% Windows, with the rest unknown.

Most developers specialize in one operating system or the other because the tools and languages are different. For example, .NET and languages like F# are primarily used on Windows. Increasingly, however, people are using .NET on Linux machines just as people have long used PHP, which was initially just for Linux, on Windows machines.

This is not to say that there aren't developers who are comfortable on either, nor is it to say that someone specializing in Linux is useless on Windows (or vice versa). That said, it is best to get a web developer who focuses on the environment that you use.

Languages and Frameworks

Almost any computer language can be used for back-end website development, but some make it a lot easier. On Linux servers, these include PHP, Python, Java, and Ruby. Other important languages include Clojure, Erlang, Rust, Node.js, and Go.

On Windows servers, these include the languages built for the .NET framework. The most popular are Visual Basic, C#, and F#.

The front-end has many frameworks to make coding faster and more reliable, and the back-end is no different. The major languages all have popular frameworks:

Determine The Skills You Need in a Web Developer

A new project should be completely described in terms of the technology that will be used. In this case, you should already know what skills you need in a web developer.

If you are maintaining or extending an existing site or application, however, you need to know what technology it is built on. If you have a technical group at your disposal, you will need to consult with them. On the other hand, if you are the technical guru of your company, you need to look at your current infrastructure and determine the key aspects of your website or application:

  • Languages used
  • Frameworks and libraries used
  • Server operating system
  • Web server

When updating existing software, you don't need a freelancer to know any more than what you just laid out. If you are extending the software, though, you may need extra skills. For example, if you are turning a static website into a dynamic one, you will likely need a strong back-end developer.

At this point, you may need to consult with your technical team to determine exactly what skills that developer needs. Once you have this information in mind, you can use it to create your interview questions that you’ll utilize later on in the process.

Clarify Your Project

Before you look for a freelance web developer, you need to know the scope of your project. Most importantly, you have to determine how much time it should take, your budget, and what will be delivered. Doing this can be difficult, but it will make it far more likely that your project will be a success. It will also help you keep your project on track.

Write the Job Description

With the above knowledge in mind, it should be easier to write a job description. There are five important aspects of this:

  1. Title: This should be short with only as much information as is necessary to summarize the job.
  2. Description: Be clear what the project is about. Explain in as much detail as is reasonable.
  3. Skills/Experience: Don't go overboard here. List the most important skills that are necessary (like those we mentioned earlier in this article).
  4. Details: Here you will explain the work details like whether the work is on or off-site, work hours and location (if applicable), pay and project duration.
  5. Company information: Provide an overview of the company, such as the size, field and location.

Finding Freelance Web Developers

There are plenty of places to advertise jobs. Print is usually an inefficient method of getting good prospects, and so are most online sources. It is much better to use sites that specialize in tech workers. YOSS specializes in providing companies with the right technical freelancers for the job. That's why we can offer top web developers who have been pre-screened, which makes finding the right prospects easier than with other HR sites.

Choosing the Right Freelance Web Developers

Once you receive responses to your job posting, you can narrow them down to a handful of candidates that best meet your needs. You’ll then want to dig deeper with that selection of candidates. Start by looking at each freelancer’s previous work, and be sure to share it with your existing tech experts to see how that work relates to your project.

You can also begin to schedule interviews at this time, which will give you an idea of what each freelancer is actually like. During this process, it’s good to keep in mind the most crucial web developer personality traits, namely an excellent attention to detail, strong communication skills and flexibility.

If you are contracting for a large project, it is best to engage the candidate in a paid test on a small part of the project. This will save you money and hassle in the long-run if the freelancer turns out to be a bad fit for your project.

Summary

There's no perfect recipe for hiring a good freelance web developer. The hardest part is figuring out exactly what kind of freelancer you need, but once you do that, we’re confident you can find the right web developer for your project. Sign up with YOSS now to get access to the top 1 percent of web developers. 

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Topics:Software Engineering

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