When we begin working with a new client, it’s common to hear that it was a tough process to find great development services. In an industry as widespread as web development, we’re often asked why that is. And how does a person or agency vet the candidates? Read on to find out some of the biggest reasons “good help is hard to find”, and tips on how to find a developer you can trust.

Good custom web development requires a diverse skill set and takes time to learn.

Tip #1: Ask about their length of time in the industry.

Just because a developer has been around a while doesn’t mean they’re automatically great, but if they haven’t been doing it professionally for at least a few years, then there’s a good chance there’s still a lot of learning to do that they can get done on smaller clients before taking on the big projects. In an industry that changes at the speed of the internet, developers need to be well suited to self learning and have a commitment to constantly expanding and diversifying their skills. If they’ve been successfully doing that for years, that’s good!

In a field of self-education you’ll find experts and impostors.

Tip #2: Ask if they know custom code, or if they use pre-built solutions.

We’ve come across many people who want to get into the industry based on what they’ve taught themselves, but they end up as “weekend warriors” who aren’t doing the work on a continuous and professional basis and thus don’t gather the expertise needed. They end up using workarounds and pre-built frameworks and themes and claim they are “custom”. For potential clients it can be tough to ascertain skill level so ask them whether they are making modifications to an existing product or writing custom code.

If they send you some examples of WordPress sites they’ve done and claim they are “custom themes”, run them through a Theme Detector. If it’s truly custom, then you’ll see something like this:

If it says it’s a theme you can purchase, like Divi or Enfold, or if it says it’s a Child Theme* then there’s a chance it’s not custom as you’re being told, and you should ask more questions.

*To clarify, we’re not saying that Child Themes are bad and in many cases can be good practice if one chooses to use a trusted framework like Genesis as a launch pad for their custom site, but it’s merely an indicator that might require more investigation.

Good development skills do not equate to good business partners.

Tip #3: Look for a reputable business, not just a freelancer.

Finding someone who is highly skilled is only half the battle. After all, what good is it to have the most brilliant developer at your disposal, if he or she takes a week to answer a simple email? The other half, of course, is finding help that is skilled and takes your business as seriously as you do. This particular issue is one that plagues many industries and business owners, but the web is unique in the sense that people from all over the world can work remotely with each other. Removing the geo-location boundaries means there’s a lot of opportunity to find really great (and downright terrible) help. Without proper business practices in place, these agreements often lead to communication problems, quality of work issues and scope of work discrepancies. In addition, you want to find help that will partner up and support your clients for the long-term…which brings us to the next tip.

Do they have a commitment to supporting you after the project ends?

Tip #4: Ask for references for long standing clients.

An industry as accessible as one you can get into from the living room sofa means freelancers will abound, and luckily there’s enough work for everyone to go around, but finding a partner that is focused on building relationships and not just trying to move onto the next project is key. Asking for references not just for individuals and single projects, but for other companies who’ve been working with the developer/team for at least a year, will help you understand if they are in this industry for the long-haul, and have a habit of supporting the work they produce for you.

If you follow these tips, you’ll increase the chances that your next developer will be an all-star that is as passionate about your clients as you are.

Still feeling a little intimidated or confused?

If you’d still like more guidance, drop us a line and we can schedule a call to see if we’re a good mutual fit for your development needs or if we can recommend someone who is.