The Top 5 Things to Look for in a Development Resource

  1. Development ability. It goes without saying that any developer you hire must have technical skills. Not just any technical skills, but those that’ll actually get the job done to your specifications. That often means a level of excellence in PHP, Javascript, and other languages. How do you know if developers are as good as they claim? Ask for access to working applications they created. Consider using a website that reviews and assesses code. Stack Exchange has a code review group where users provide insight as to the quality and viability of code. Code Reviewer and Fabricator are other options. There’s more to code than just getting the job done. Future repairs and revisions rely on a quality, common sense strategy with good documentation.

  2. Project management skills. If you’re lucky, your developer has project management skills as well as development skills. More often than not, a developer has many technical skills, and perhaps creative skills, but has less developed management skills. When that is the case, there may be an in-house project manager at the development company to meet this responsibility. Otherwise, you need to manage the project. Whoever manages the project is responsible for keeping the project on track and ensuring it meets project specifications:
    • Gather all documentation, images, logos etc. at the start of the project
    • Verify scope and specifications
    • Schedule work
    • Create timelines
    • Provide weekly progress updates
    • Monitor time to completion

  3. Communication skills. As with any business relationship, communication is the key to success. Good communication may be as important as development skills. Before you hire a developer, make sure you come to a clear understanding of the project’s scope and specifications. As the developer works, monitor for early warning signs like confusing email correspondence and a lack of clarity. New cost and time estimates that don’t include details about the project changes that necessitated the new estimates are other red flags, as are delayed responses. Remember that this is your project and your money; don’t be afraid to ask questions and insist on accountability. Changes are often legitimate, based on a new specification or a developmental improvement, but it is the developer’s job to educate you on the process until you are confident in the process and the work.

  4. Business acumen. You are an expert on your needs, your business, and your market. You have all the answers and the business experience. You’ve defined your project with your expertise. What if the developer lacks your business acumen? What happens when he or she doesn’t understand the cultural nuances of American business or has a limited understanding of your market? It drastically affects how your request is interpreted, and may lead to frustrating rounds of dialogue covering details of your vertical. It also limits cross-learning opportunities; a developer without business acumen does not see how solutions can be applied across verticals nor leverage his or her experience to offer better solutions and an improved product.

  5. Design / UX & UI expertise. The importance of design cannot be overlooked. Developers have a variable amount of expertise in user interface development. Ideally, you’ll have a developer and a UX/UI developer-designer for your project. If that isn’t in the cards, or if your designer isn’t well versed in web design, you need to lean heavily on your developer for design. A good CSS developer often provides suitable design recommendations, but verify capability at the get go. The design is critical to adoption, usability, and interest for any software application with a front-facing component.

Developers need technical skills and then some. Where business, design, project management, or communication skills are lacking, you’ll need to commit to more oversight and additional hires to complete your project. Assess your developer’s full capabilities to maximize project success and establish the need for any other resources. For more information on hiring a developer, call us at 1-800-680-4057.