How to hire a developer: 12 skills to look for

3rd February 2023 · Kevin Howes

hire a prgrammer

Hiring the wrong web developer can cost you up to around £30,000, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics.

Recruiting the wrong web developer can mean your website uses outdated software, isn’t built to current SEO standards or isn’t even responsive. 

All of these errors can compound to make your website difficult to discover or use by your customers and lose you business.

In contrast, a great web developer is reliable with deadlines, estimating work schedules and implementing sector-leading features to provide your business with continual sales growth.

Mark Zuckerberg believes that the best web developers are 100x better than their lesser counterparts, so finding the right hire for your company is crucial.

But how can you tell when you’ve found the right web developer for your business or project? 

Here are five critical things to look for when hiring a web developer.

What to look for in your web developer

The right technical skills

Your company relies on its website as a calling card for new business, so your web developer must ensure it’s built on bulletproof systems.

A great web developer must have technical knowledge and experience of the software, web applications, types of web ecosystems and coding languages that can best support your company’s aims.

However, sometimes real-world problems, shifts in the sector or losing ground to a competitor can mean your website needs a rethink with a novel solution.

Therefore, even the best web developers need to know about the latest web design thinking and technology, so they can propose the best possible solutions for your business. 

The best way to test their overall knowledge of website design and development includes asking questions about what should be their foundation-level skills.

A good web developer should be able to answer questions on:

  • Programming languages and coding
  • User interface design 
  • Building responsive websites
  • Integration with mobile apps
  • Javascript
  • WordPress
  • Photoshop

This is a partial list, but it is a good starting point for what a full-stack developer should know.

Passion for web development

Being enthusiastic about what you do increases your chances of success.

Passion drives web developers to seek new solutions to old problems, persevere when projects become difficult, and show up even on the most mundane work days.

While passion is difficult to quantify, it usually manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Visiting industry conventions in their own time
  • Taking part in development events
  • Reading news about the industry
  • Having a shelf full of web development books
  • Trying new methods to solve problems
  • General curiosity about the work of their colleagues

Understanding your company’s focus

What your business does affects how its website user experiences are designed and built, so your web developer should be able to explain the following:

  • What your company does
  • Why your company operates in the way it does
  • The customer problems your company, its products and services solve
  • The sectors you operate within 
  • The space you occupy against your competitors

If they’re aware of how your company operates, they’re more likely to understand how and why previous front-end developers have designed the customer website experience the way they have. 

They’re also more likely to be able to offer solutions that align with how your customers like to interact with your offerings.

An attitude of continual learning

Your web developer works with constantly evolving technology, and they’ll need to stay ahead of digital trends to have the most significant positive impact on your business.

In a recent survey of Java developers, 53% admitted to being “technology sheep” that adopt new updates only once the industry accepts them as the standard.3 Meaning those developers aren’t helping to retain their company’s competitive advantage.

To counteract hiring a “technology sheep” developer, look for signs that your developer:

  • Maintains current knowledge of industry trends and announcements.
  • Provides solutions utilising systems and technology that are novel to your company.
  • Updates ecosystems based on best practices.
  • Is not afraid of change or effort and will bring the best technology to your business.

Confidence in their work but trusting of others

Your website is more than just the work of your web developer. SEO specialists, copywriters, and graphic designers must combine their hard and soft skills for the best results.

No matter how brilliant a web developer’s ideas are, they must be aware of the value colleagues from other departments in your company can bring to a web project.

As a result, the best web developers are confident in their ideas and actively participate in design discussions to aid in developing the website architecture.

They are not, however, overconfident. Instead, they take a step back and carefully consider each team member’s points before reaching a consensus on the best approach.

Confidence can also refer to the ability to make minor changes assertively. For example, a great developer may begin with a small but significant improvement instead of completely redesigning your website.

Knowledge of your target customers

Whether your company is physical or cloud-based, your customers will interact with at least one digital system.

And when they do, the experience should be seamless, providing exactly what they want when they want it.

Your web developer is responsible for ensuring that your website works as expected by your customers, so they should be able to relate to and understand their needs.

This knowledge and understanding will enable them to create web pages that solve your customers’ problems.

Respect for their team

Real-world problems frequently necessitate the combination of skill sets and experience for the best solution.

Great web developers understand what they know and don’t know and where their skills and those of their colleagues are most useful.

As a result, your developer must be able to work with people with diverse skills and respond appropriately to disagreements.

They should also be bold in attending company culture events and discussing non-work topics with their new coworkers.

Continued interest in delivered web projects

The continued functionality of your company’s website is the best indication that a developer did an excellent job.

As a result, great web developers maintain an active interest in the projects they’ve completed for the rest of their careers.

This interest can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including:

  • Availability to assist with testing, troubleshooting, and training.
  • An interest in data and analytics related to usage to learn and adapt their work in the future.
  • Using the system they created to complete tasks so they can see how it solves customer problems.

Ability to consistently hit deadlines

Meeting digital project deadlines is the first step toward providing your customers with prompt service and a dependable website.

A great web developer must be able to do the following to meet deadlines consistently:

  • Understand their project responsibilities and the consequences of missing a deadline.
  • Explain when they believe a deadline is unattainable and why.
  • They can confidently speak up when they believe a project is falling behind schedule.
  • A willingness to be flexible with their working hours to meet deadlines

While you shouldn’t expect a developer to sacrifice their personal life to meet deadlines, reasonable flexibility in this area is critical to the success of your projects.

Impressive adaptability

A project rarely runs smoothly, and your web development team’s priorities will frequently shift.

As a result, your developer must be adaptable enough to drop and pick up tasks in the short and long term.

Many web developers take practical steps to ensure that a paused project does not confuse them when it is resumed, so signs that your prospective hire is competent include:

  • Taking the time to comprehend the nature of the shifting priorities.
  • Keeping in touch with team members to find out where everyone is.
  • Creating a status report on where everyone got to on the paused project to make restarting at a later date easier.
  • Ensuring everyone on the team understands the current priority, why it is essential, and when it is due.

Ability to see and fix mistakes in their work

The web testing process is critical to the success of any site, and it identifies where your developer went wrong.

A great web developer must be able to see their mistakes, not be overly critical of themselves, chalk it up to experience, and move on to finding a solution.

Resilience in the face of failure ultimately results in a better developer and development team.

A love of analytics to improve user experience

If you hire a web developer with strong website development skills, you will get a great, highly functional website. 

However, your site must be more than just highly functional to be exceptional and generate profits, which is where analytics come in.

To increase sales, web developers must be able to collect and analyse target audience information. 

They will learn how your target audience thinks and behaves and then use this knowledge to create a website that attracts your best prospects while converting a high percentage of them into paying customers.

Not only is this important for your site’s user experience, but it also dramatically improves its SEO. 

For example, the Google algorithm seeks to give its users the most valuable results for their search. Therefore, it prioritises sites that provide the best content and user experience

So your developer creating a website optimised from analytics on how your users behave will improve the user experience and improve SEO.

How you can improve your chances of finding a great web developer

You should also consider what you can do within your organisation to uncover the best web development talent. 

Consider the following steps as part of your developer hiring process:

  • Outline your project before you hire a web developer, so you know what you’ll need.
  • Write an effective job description to attract the right people for your project.
  • Structure your recruitment process so you hire a developer who’s a good fit.
  • Consider whether a remote or full-time in-person job will lead to the best talent and whether you need to find and hire remotely.
  • Consider whether hiring a freelance web developer for a current project could make the most business sense.
  • Tailor your interview questions to your candidate, using their CV and social media profiles to uncover potential weak spots that may need further explanation.

Where can I find good web developers?

Support from IT Talent helps you find intuitive and reliable web developers

We’re a web development recruitment agency that finds you the skilled professionals that keep your business ahead in your sector.