Vetting A Freelance Developer
The other night I went to the Austin WordPress group. It was very casual and very friendly. One of the users pointed out to me that their website was made by someone who wasn’t a developer and in turn ended up with a very poor website. I realized from this I had to write a blog on how to properly vet a freelance developer. And just because you are told that this person “is a developer” doesn’t mean they actually are. Hopefully this helps you in your research.
One of the biggest things you can do to help find out if someone is a developer is look on LinkedIn. This is the first place I always go to, to do a background check. I see who the person knows, where they worked, what they have done and most of all who backs them up. LinkedIn is a social media website for professionals, it helps give people credit. Since you don’t add your friends on this, you add co workers and colleagues. If you can’t find the developer you are considering on LinkedIn then that is a giant red flag because this is an easy way to figure out if the developer you are hiring knows what they are talking about or not.
2. Portfolio Website
There are websites like Behance, or Carbonmade or even Deviantart or Cargo. These websites allow people to show off what their work is or their designs. Now these are more designer focused and less web focused which we will get more into in a moment. Every designer or developer usually has a portfolio website at sometime and they should have one. Usually if they don’t, they have a few good reasons to like myself. Or they have their own personal website that displays their work. Designers who aren’t coders usually rely on these cause they aren’t coders and don’t know how to build themselves a custom built personal website.
3. Personal Website
All developers seem to have a personal website today which can include their work, blogs on what they are doing and just give you general information about them with links hopefully to their work. Now why did I include this third? Well I believe with websites like LinkedIn, there is that whole backing, someone can put up false information which I have seen done before. Where they put up a theme, put fake information in it and call themselves a company. Now with a personal website, you can tell a lot about someone, how it is laid out, how up to date it is, what it runs on, is it responsive cause if on someones linkdin it says they are a developer and have people saying they are but their personal website is kind of held together by ducktape and toothpicks well…they might not be who they are cracked up to be. Also having a tumblr doesn’t count as a personal website for developers.
4. Google Or Bing (sometimes)
Probably something you can do but I always go against is doing a google or a bing search for them. Now why is this not necessarily the best idea, well…for a few reasons. Sometimes it indexes old free blogs that people use to write on. Remember Xanga? Yeah that popped up for one of my developer friends. Also in some rare cases if you have what I like to call a common name then sometimes multiple instances of different people will pop up, it doesn’t always give the best results. So I would suggest you use internet searches sparingly UNLESS you go through an actual portfolio website searching for a specific user then searches are A OK in that situation but a mass search of the web might bring back a few things that you didn’t expect.
5. The Payment Factor
A few things to start off with, if a developer asks for cash only…avoid that. That is beyond shady, I know some people who only work in cash but talk about a way to avoid taxes. Now another thing to note is if a developer asks for all the money REFUSE. Refuse outright, say nope, go for half or a third. Regular freelancers will ask for half or a third, they are never supposed to ask for it all at once. A website is like house remodeling, the contractor isn’t supposed to get paid in full till the job is done.
I really hope this helps out some people in order to keep the bad developers running off with money from happening to you. I will probably write up another blog with what to do if you get to the point where a developer up and disappears and leaves you with a broken website. This isn’t as isolated as someone thinks it is, I hear about it happening at least once a month to clients and friends I meet. I hear about more and more when I attend meet ups, always seems like every meet up I go to I hear about this happening. So please vet your developer or any of your freelancers, never just jump into a website without serious consideration and background checks.
See you space cowboy…