gears with PHP carved in one gear

It’s easy to make the case for remote developers—especially in this age of distributed development environments that enable your teams to deploy code from around the world at all hours. But you don’t have to be a large-scale production with rapid integration cycles to benefit from the help of an expert developer who understands your business and your code.

If you have one of the estimated 80% of applications on the web using PHP code—one of the most popular back-end programming languages—having a skilled PHP freelancer on your regular roster can be key to your future success.

The value is in the partnership, and how you can leverage their expertise not only for one-off projects and quick fixes but for the continued health and growth of your web application.

Here’s a look at a few ways you might utilize their expertise.

Upgrading, Maintaining, and Scaling Your PHP-powered Application for the Long Haul—and How A Freelance Developer Can Help

Add next-level functionality and integrations that will grow with your business—not break under added pressure.

Of course quality is always non-negotiable when it comes to code, but even more so when you’re expanding on an existing foundation. It’s crucial to have a partner who understands your code to implement those bigger changes.

For example, an app that lets tenants sublet apartments might be looking to add a new module that creates a nearby rental suggestion box on users’ dashboards. It requires some PHP, JavaScript and MySQL expertise, and needs to integrate with other existing modules to work properly. Working with a PHP developer who already has an understanding of the app’s architecture and their APIs makes the process seamless—and the developer has the bandwidth and contract to continue to deploy upgraded versions after the MVP is released.

Customize WordPress sites with custom functionality.

PHP is the language that WordPress sites are built on, and a required skill to do any serious work inside a theme. If you have a WordPress site that has complex custom features or integrations, a PHP developer is an important partner. A great PHP developer will also have expertise with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, making them able to work within all aspects of a WordPress site.

If a farming co-op with a WordPress website wants to upgrade from text links on their partners’ page to clickable logos of all of the participants, a PHP developer can edit the functions.php file to bring this to life. Down the line, they might make the logos automatically scroll from left to right, or be available to add or remove new logos as vendors join. Putting time and energy into customization—rather than just downloading another plugin—is a great way to ensure the integrity of a WordPress site as it grows.

Handle bugs and fixes in a thoughtful, holistic way—not in a rush.

There will always be critical bug fixes, but certain aspects of programming can’t be rushed. If you want to ensure your site’s health for the long haul, it can often be in your best interest to invest a bit more time and care in finding the best possible solution rather than the quickest possible solution. Consider a longer-term contract that gives your freelancer the flexibility to focus on the fix that makes the most sense for your project—and the experience with your app that gives them appropriate context and perspective.

A strategic CIO might opt to have a satellite PHP developer on his team for around 20 hours a week. This way, the freelancer can be in charge of prioritizing tickets and crash report items while the core team focuses on application growth. With access to JIRA, Git, Confluence, and a Slack channel, the freelance developer can tackle fixes, chat with other developers, and ship clean code back to the team for testing on a nightly basis.

Tips for Engaging the PHP Development Talent You Need

PHP is one of the most widely used languages on the web, so there’s a broad talent pool to choose from. This might mean you need to take extra care in your vetting and interviewing process to ensure you’re getting a developer of the caliber you need. You don’t need to be a developer yourself to explain what you need; discuss your goals and mission, any frameworks the developer should know in particular, then do your best to estimate the scope of the engagement.

Check out this guide to writing a PHP job description to help you get started crafting a post that will attract the right long-term PHP developer for you.