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Identify Your Web Development Project Requirements

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 what you want, then identify the type and level of skill needed to make it happen. Research what those requirements might be using resources like the Hiring Headquarters: There’s lot of information available about all areas of web development, including explainers that explore APIs, server-side scripting technology, software stacks, the cloud, and more.

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 (e.g., PHP, MySQL, or Node.js), frameworks you’re using (e.g., .NET, AngularJS, or Ruby on Rails), any cloud-based deployment or computing services, or API and database integrations the developer will need to work with.

Wondering how to budget for a freelance web developer?

Here’s a look at how you can crunch the numbers.

Write an Effective Job Post

Use the information in your brief to create a detailed job post that will appeal to the type of freelancer you’re looking for.

Start by defining a scope of work that focuses on three things:

  • Results: What deliverable(s) do you expect?
  • Targets: What are your deadlines?
  • Time: What are the start and end dates for your project?

This will help freelance developers come back with a detailed development proposal for you to review. Include specific skills your developer will need. Web development encompasses an array of fields, from designing the forms, layout, and features your end user will interact with, to building the databases, API’s, web protocols, and server-side applications that populate the back-end, so provide as much detail as you can. You’ll also want to make sure they’re familiar with the tools they’re going to be using on your project, whether those are project management tools like Basecamp, or version control/source-code management tools like GitHub.

Shortlist Potential Freelance Web Developers

As proposals are submitted, you’ll need to vet the most promising web developers to create a shortlist of developers you want to interview. Here are some points to look for:

  • Professionalism. Who’s tailored their submission to speak to your business and your project? Check out their Upwork profile: How do they present themselves in general?
  • Talent. Because web developers wear lots of different hats and have many areas of expertise, it should be clear from their proposal, profile, and portfolio that they have the specific mix of skills needed to do the work.
  • Experience. Has the freelancer worked for others in your industry, or handled projects like yours in the past?
  • Feedback. What do previous clients have to say about the work on their projects? Reviewing feedback can give you insight into the developer’s ability to communicate, solve problems, and produce a great product.
  • Portfolio. What aspects of development projects have they handled before? What were the results? Each sample should provide a description, which may explain the problem they needed to solve and other project requirements. Make sure they can explain how the work in their portfolio relates to the questions you’re trying to answer.

Prep for the Interview

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—i.e., existing web services, API integrations, or back-end functionality for your site—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.