John Watson

Hello! My name is Watson and I’m a freelance web developer. I create web sites using the latest tech for clients both huge and small. Contact me and I’ll help you build your dream project.

How to hire a developer

Finding and hiring a good developer who can actually build and deliver a working product can be intimidating. That’s especially true if you don’t know much about what a developer does or if this is your first development project. Is the developer any good? Are they reliable?

It’s tempting to just post your want ad to an online job site and pick the low bidder. But that’s a terrible idea. A lot of my business comes from people who want me to finish a project that started out with the low bidder. “Our last developer couldn’t finish this…”—I hear that a lot. Sending work offshore can sometimes work but it requires an extremely rigorous approach, excellent and constant communication, and an understanding of cultural differences which most companies can’t commit to—that’s why many offshore projects fail.

So when people ask me how to hire a developer, I point them to a process written by Derek Sivers. From what I can tell, Derek is an entrepreneur and not a computer programmer (I’ve never met him). His advice for hiring a developer is excellent. I’ve been giving similar advice to people for a long time. It boils down to this:

  1. Nothing on the internet is ever finished. You will never launch if you try to start with version 10. Reduce the scope of your idea to something that you can deploy quickly: version 1.
  2. Really think about your project in detail and describe how every single screen and button is going to work. Draw it out on paper or on the computer. Write an outline.
  3. Pick a small portion of your project and hire a few different developers to build it. Something they can finish in a few days. Yes, you will be paying several different developers for the same work. Choose the one you like best and give them the rest of the project.