How to Hire the Right Front End Developer
Once your web design idea has some legs, the next step is to hire the right front end developer.
This can be a chore, since there are a million front end developers out there, and each one has unique skills to offer. A good front end developer can make your website or app easier to use, and a bad one will make life a lot more complicated for users.
So how do you hire the right person? In this blog, we’ll talk about what makes a skilled developer and how you can use their services in the best possible way.
Knowing What You Want
In the infamous words of Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Unless you have some concrete plans about what to do with your web project, you’ll probably end up hiring someone whose work you don’t particularly love at a price beyond what you planned. Why? Because having a plan is crucial to getting your project done.
Any front end developer can help you cross the finish line, but the right developer will build a website that stands the test of time. You need to know what you’re looking for.
Drumming Up Ideas with a Developer
One expensive way to discover what you want is to spitball with a developer. You’ll end up paying an hourly rate between $60-100 just to find out what colors work best for your branding, but they may also give you some pointers on UX/UI layouts. Unless you come armed with a list of specific questions, preliminary planning with a developer will drain your budget without much to show for it.
The best way to generate ideas is to find websites you love and write what piques your interest. Then, when you take that list to a developer, you can have a brief, constructive conversation about what your site needs to incorporate to be successful.
If there’s a website you love, why not try to find out who built it? You may be able to find out how they did it. Maybe they’ll even offer to work for you.
However, you get there, planning ahead will only save you time and money.
Keep Your Front End Developer on Front End Development
If there’s one thing clients and developers have in common, it’s the frustration of a misunderstood scope of work. Font end developers are often asked to handle work far beyond their skill set. Then, when they produce subpar work because they were unfamiliar, the client is frustrated. It’s a lose-lose.
Your front end developer should only be handling the details your customers see—not the stuff behind the scenes. Sure, many front end developers have handled back end tasks, but expecting them to wear so many hats on a budget is unwise. They specialize in different programming languages and are used to handling different tasks.
Before starting your project, ask the prospective front end developer if your request matches their skill set. Find out if your project makes sense in the scope of their work experience. By communicating these matters upfront, a good developer can help you assemble the right team for your needs.
In the case that you end up needing something extra from your front end developer, be respectful of the time they need to read up and deliver on your requests. Learning other programming tasks isn’t easy, so give them enough resources to do it.
What Makes Good Front End Development?
The sign of a great developer is that you never think about them. When you see a website with a clunky layout, it’s easy enough to say, “Hey, this developer needs help.” Good sites, on the other hand, make you forget anyone worked on them.
Good design is about far more than just looking nice. An elegant, efficient layout is crucial to your website or app’s success. Why? Because the easier your site is for people to navigate, the longer they will stick around, reducing your bounce rate and consequently boosting your SEO score.
When we said to look for websites you like, it wasn’t just to help you find ideas about what to do—it’s also about what not to do. Smooth navigation takes you from the home page all the way to a buying decision without you ever knowing it.
The biggest companies spend millions of dollars researching what makes site navigation as easy as possible. Learn from them what you can.
Take Advantage of Their Network
Deciding to hire a front end developer probably won’t be a one-and-done deal, especially if your website or app has any degree of sophistication. You’ll need a team that can work together to make sure the data your customers enter makes it into your servers.
Your front end developer probably has a few friends or coworkers they can call to get help with your entire project. If they are good at what they do, chances are they know others who are equally skilled in their backgrounds.
Not only will this help you tackle other parts of your project, but it will also help things move along smoothly. People who know each other tend to work better together. They communicate more and can share ideas that will help your site or app perform as well as possible.
As you are interviewing front-end developers, ask them if they know anyone else who can help. This may even start a conversation about how to proceed with your project.
Plan a Long-Term Strategy
No matter how good your front end developer may be, you’ll need a plan for how to handle the future. Good sites require maintenance in order to protect their SEO score. If you aren’t spending the time and money it takes to keep your site in good order, it probably won’t stay relevant for very long.
Make sure your front end developer is someone you can work with in the future. Ask them how much they would charge to take a look at your site or app each month and make any changes. Usually, this is a retainer fee of a couple hundred dollars.
One benefit of discussing a long-term strategy is that you won’t have to teach another developer about what you want or how things should feel. Your front end developer will still have your project notes to reference and keep your web project in good working order.
Freelancer or Design Studio?
You can go about hiring a front end developer in one of two ways: assemble your own team of freelancers to tackle each job, or pay more upfront for a web design studio. Freelancers typically cost less because they only do what they’re asked to do, while web design studios take a more project-based approach to your needs.
Unless you have prior project management experience, working with a web design studio is the better choice. The right team will have a portfolio of websites and apps similar to what you’re trying to build. Right off the bat, you’ll know what to expect without having to hope for the best.
With a good web design studio, you’ll have a contact point from the very beginning who can manage your expectations and keep timelines on track. If it wasn’t already obvious, this is better because the headache of management will be someone else’s, and if anything goes wrong, it will be on them to take care of it.
Working with a web design studio means walking through a consultation about how to get your site or app all the way from planning to scaling upward. You’ll always have someone to talk to about where to go next, and chances are the design studio will have ideas of how to keep you moving forward.
Managing Your Own Project
If you choose to go with a freelance front end developer, you will be able to expand your own network and tinker with your site more closely. While the process requires more attention, freelancers often bring their own unique insights to projects.
The other benefit of hiring a freelancer is that you only pay for the work that gets done—nothing more. If you’re looking for great customer service that goes above and beyond, don’t work with a freelancer. Instead, you’ll be the final point of approval for all your decisions. It can be fun, but it’s a lot of work.
Hiring Your Front End Developer
Once you’ve made up your mind about who to hire, make sure you state your expectations clearly. There will be boatloads of frustration—both for you and your developer—if you’re expecting something they don’t plan on delivering. Communication is the most important part of your web design project.
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David is the Co-founder and CEO of Goji Labs. David loves working closely with passionate founders to understand their vision and help them build beautiful applications while focusing on risk-mitigation. As an author, he focuses on informative and educational blogs that enable our clients to make the most of their businesses.