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How to Hire Web Developers – The Ultimate Guide for 2022 and Beyond

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:
how to hire web developers

Although it’s seemingly similar to finding a software developer, there are some distinct differences to consider when asking yourself how to hire web developers.

And with the total number of worldwide developers set to exceed 27.7 million by 2023, it’s of no surprise that web developers are hot property.

If you’re in the market for a web developer and scratching your head as to where to start, this article is for you! We’ll give you the full run-down by exploring exactly what a web developer is, what makes a great one, where to find them, and how to hire them – let’s get started!

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What is a Web Developer?

Put simply, a web developer is someone who builds websites. Typically, they work alongside web designers, taking their finished designs and turning them into reality by writing lines of software code.

To make this happen, the best web developers need a broad knowledge of different programming languages, computer databases, technical frameworks, and a keen eye for amazing user experience.

While the skills of a particular web developer will vary by role, broadly speaking there are three different types of web developer:

  • Front-end – Those which create the graphical parts of a website that users interact with.
  • Back-end – Those which create the systems behind the scenes to support the website’s functionality.
  • Full-stack – Those that can do both, front-end and back-end.

But Wait, Do You Actually Need to Hire a Web Developer?

Frontend Development
Backend Development

In a world that’s becoming more and more digital by the day, many companies find themselves requiring a web developer. But, it’s worth taking a quick moment to think about whether hiring an internal web developer is the right move.

This is especially true because web developers don’t come cheap. In fact, data from Indeed shows the average web developer salary in the US sits at $67,000.

Before jumping into hiring a web developer, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have enough ongoing work for a web developer?
  • Is this web developer joining a wider tech team or will they be working alone?
  • How will my web developer deliver an effective ROI?

If your development requirement is small, it may be far more cost-effective to utilize a digital agency. It often only makes financial sense to hire a web developer if you have a large, revenue-generating website and an existing tech team in place.

What Makes a Great Web Developer?

If you’re set on hiring a web developer for your business, you need to know what good looks like!

While the qualities of a web developer will vary based on their specialization, there are some common traits that all amazing web developers possess.

When hiring web developers, you need exactly the right combination of hard and soft skills from the list below for either a front-end or back-end genius:

For Front-End Web Developers 🖥️

A front-end web developer works on the customer-facing part of a website.

They take care of what the website visitor sees and interacts with and as such, have to be focused on making the experience as beautiful and as simple as possible. Here’s what they need to do that:

They’re The Master of Front End Languages

Of course, all developers need to have a mastery of the right software development languages. For front-end web developers, that includes HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

The best web developers should be very familiar with these as a foundation but also keep up-to-date with emerging technologies such as Angular, React, and Swift.

You’ll need to think about your website technology to know which language to go for. To bring this to life, Angular is great for single-page applications, user-review websites, and travel apps, whereas heavyweight sites like Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber utilize React.

They Always Thinking About Mobile

Another crucial part of a front-end web developer’s arsenal is a solid knowledge of mobile development and responsive design.

With so many users accessing the web on mobile and tablet devices, failure to deliver a great mobile website, on top of a desktop one, is a real own-goal.

When hiring a web developer, make sure they have a mobile-first mindset and have experience of creating great user experiences on smaller devices too.

Content Management Systems Wizards

Web developers are clever people, and as such, most of them utilize Content Management Systems to make their life easier. In the tech world, Content Management Systems (CMS) are the backbone of great websites and should be used whenever possible to deliver speed and save on cost.

When hiring your next web developer, make sure you understand which CMS technologies they have used in the past, and ask them to explain why they chose them. This will show you they are efficient and effective in what they do, and should also align with the CMS you currently have in place.

Again, to bring this to life, look out for web developers who are experienced with WordPress, Shopify, Magento, and Drupal.

Champions of Great User Experience

As we mentioned earlier, front-end web developers are responsible for ensuring customers have a great experience. Therefore, when you’re looking for your next web developer make sure they champion user experience at every opportunity.

The best web developers always have the customer at the front of their mind and ensure everything they build makes the user’s life even easier!

For Back-End Web Developers 💽

A back-end web developer deals with the ‘behind the scenes’ elements of web development.

They ensure the website’s connection to the outside world is super-efficient, while also connecting your business’ servers and databases to the front-end website. If the back-end developer does their work properly, your website will be super-fast and secure, allowing the front-end experience to be amazing!

They’re The King or Queen of Back-End Languages

While in the front-end world most organizations use similar languages, in the back-end world, there are a lot more to chose from.

Some popular back-end languages include Python, Java, C#, PHP, Ruby, and GO. You should already have an idea of what your web systems use as their backend language, so work to align what you need with the skills of your next developer.

As always, also look for developers who are up to speed with the latest best practice. While back-end languages are a little more consistent, new and improved technologies are emerging all the time!

Multi-Lingual API Knowledge

Your website doesn’t exist in a vacuum and may need to interact with other websites or services. API’s (application programming interfaces) are the technologies that translate the languages of other websites to ensure everyone can work in harmony.

Your next web developer needs to be a multi-lingual API genius to ensure your website can collaborate with others to deliver an amazing all-around experience.

Again, to bring this to life, have you ever noticed when you go to create a new account on a website that it says ‘Log-In with Google’ or ‘Log-In with Facebook’? That’s an API. That website links in with Google or Facebook to seamlessly synchronize their services. If you want this sort of amazing experience, make sure your back-end web developer can work with APIs.

They’re the Gatekeeper of Your Server & Database

Everything in the digital world runs on databases and servers, so make sure your next back-end web developer is up to date. While databases and servers aren’t that sexy, they really are super-important so make sure you ask about them!

Popular technologies include SQL, MongoDB, Oracle, and Redis. Remember too that this is where all of your customer data will potentially be held, so ensure your next hire knows how to keep your servers and databases super safe and secure.

Web Developer Soft SKills

Of course, like any employee, it isn’t all about hard skills. Web developers need to work with other people in your business, and maybe even customers, to create amazing web experiences.

Here are just some of the soft skills that the very best web developers master to work well with others in your business:

  • Communication 💬
  • Time Management ⏱️
  • Organization 🧩
  • Collaboration 🤝
  • Teamwork 🧑‍🤝‍🧑
  • Problem-solving 💡
  • Logical thinking 🤔
  • Creativity 🖌️

How & Where to Hire Web Developers

Now that you know what a great web developer is and what they can do, let’s see how and where to hire web developers for your project or team.

Step #1 – Know What You Want

We’ve mentioned this in another article on how to hire software developers, but the first and most important step to hiring any kind of developer is knowing what you need them to do.

By utilizing the knowledge we’ve covered above, hopefully, you should have an idea of what skills and experience the ideal web developer needs for the work you have in mind.

As a business owner, HR manager, or first-time employer of developers, you won’t be a development expert, but you should now have what you need to write a detailed web development job description.

Step #2 – Don’t Use LinkedIn, Use Developer Specific Channels.

You may be tempted to hire a recruiter or do some outreach on LinkedIn to hire a great web developer. We’d recommend not wasting your time – Why? Because developers don’t hang out on job boards!

They already have a job, probably a pretty good one too, and the best way to attract them to apply for yours is by catching them off guard in places where job hunting isn’t even on their mind. 

For example, we found some great people by putting up ads on social media (more on how to do that here), targeting them by their job title. 

The exception to this rule is developer-specific job boards or communities. If you want the best outcomes from your developer job search, stay away from Indeed or Monster. Instead, invest in sites such as StackOverflow, Dice, Crunchboard, and GitHub to find developers in their natural habitats.

For a full list of awesome developer-specific job boards, check out this article!

Step #3 – Make Sure Your Offer is Uber-Competitive

Web developers are paid fairly well. As we saw earlier web developers earn anywhere from $50k to $100k annually, averaging at $67k, so to tempt them to your business, you need to be willing to pay the right amount.

But while salary is super important, there are other ways to hire great web developers! Try highlighting some of these within your offer:

  • Cool innovation projects 😎
  • Progression opportunities 📈
  • Training 🎓
  • Remote working 💻
  • Healthcare 🩺
  • Parental leave 👨‍👧‍👦

These are all great ways to stand out as an employer and capture the attention of a web developer who’s already employed.

Step #4 – Evaluate The Quality of a Web Developer with Skills Tests

Consider these three things:

  1. Web development isn’t like other professions. You don’t necessarily need a college degree or a range of fancy courses, it can just be learned from scratch.
  2. The best developers love solving challenges and will relish any opportunity to take on an interesting problem.
  3. With hiring a web developer coming at such a large cost, you need to be sure the person you’re hiring is of the best quality!

The best way to deliver on all three? Utilizing skills testing rather than resumes within your recruitment process!

Here’s our pitch to you:

With a pre-employment assessment tool such as Toggl Hire, you can test the knowledge of your applicants as soon as they apply. This could decrease your initial screening time by as much as 80%, and leads to more in-depth and interesting interviews, since you are free to focus on cultural fit, and problem-solving skills, instead of testing technical skills

Skills tests also give candidates a better understanding of the role they’re applying for and gives them a chance to see what kind of problems they’d be solving day-to-day. This, combined with the instant feedback they get after the test, leads to a great candidate experience, which in turn builds up a positive employer brand for you.

Like the sound of that? Here’s a 1-minute video to show you how we do it!

Wrapping up

Although there is plenty of demand for web developers at the moment, finding a great one is definitely within reach. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right developer with the right hard and soft skills to make a real impact in your business.

If you follow our tips, we’re confident you can find make hiring a web developer a quick and easy objective to complete. Remember, if you need help properly assessing candidates, Toggl Hire skills tests are the way to go for both you as the recruiter, and the candidate.

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