While I knew I wanted to write about hiring a contractor, it wasn't easy coming up with an angle that would resonate with people that don't have first hand knowledge of the building trades. Then I realized I was personally struggling with finding and hiring web developers, and wondering why this was so difficult?
Maybe I was just too tired last night? Maybe I knew I was nearing my deadline and had to start calling people and then it hit me. I knew I had to follow the same process I've used for years to hire my handyman technicians. And if I was able to adapt this process to one that homeowners can use when hiring a contractor, why can't I use the same approach for hiring all of my team members.
My challenge has always been hiring people to do things I don't know how to do! And I'm willing to bet that's the biggest hurdle we all have we don't when it comes to picking a doctor or lawyer but we'll leave that for another article.
So in plain English, here's what I want to know about prospective web developers.
First Things First – What Do I Need Done?
Much the way you will need to explain to a contractor what you want, I need to describe my website requirements. You should be able to describe which windows you want to replace, what rooms you want painted or have a punchlist of assorted home maintenance and repair jobs for a handyman.
For my websites, here are my requirements:
- What – my websites built on WordPress, and primarily multi-user WordPress.
- Where – the websites hosted on my Virtual Private Server (VPS).
- Existing websites need to be updated for use on smart phones & tablets.
- New websites must be responsive, use a standard theme & may need a banner designed.
- Websites should be integrated with social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.
- Websites should be set up to work with Google analytics & Google webmaster tools.
What this list is showing me is the more research I've done, the more complete my list of requirements … the more likely I will get what I want. And if you don't know what you want, then you should look for a contractor who's going to lead you through the decision process much the way Holly Chantal at The Land of Brand, is doing as we rebuild Home Tips for Women.
Homeowner Tip: With Pinterest and Houzz, homeowners can gather ideas for their remodeling projects but who will prioritize and integrate them? Someone needs to put the design together and that can be you, builders who offer “design build” services or a designer specializing in the type of room/space you're creating. Susan Serra is a kitchen designer I've come to respect and you can learn a lot by reading her blog.
Qualities To Look for When Hiring a Contractor (or Web Developer)
Susan spends a lot of time learning what's new in kitchen appliances, cabinets and more. When hiring anyone, whether they're a contractor, designer or large corporation, you want to work with people who are continually improving their skills and business processes to deliver the best product and experience.
People buy from those they know, like and trust!
When you buy a dress or make-up, you're buying a product where you rarely see the people behind it or the process used to bring the product to market. When you buy a service, you interact with people throughout the buying and delivery process. That's why it is important to pick service people who you like and trust, and for each of us how we measure this will be different.
For my web developer, I want someone who has the following personal traits, and I think these are very similar
- More than 10 years building websites, and a minimum 5 years working with WordPress.
- Committed to their trade demonstrated by activities where they continually build their skills and support network.
- Confidence and realistic about what they can/cannot accomplish within a given schedule and budget.
- Strong communication skills on the phone and email although I'm willing to communicate with some people via social media but dislike texting.
My web developer must also have processes to deliver my requirements on schedule. Note I said “on schedule”. Having managed software development projects for 20+ years and run a handyman business for 8 years, I understand estimates, and they change as you get into a project and learn more.
- Use of a project management system like Basecamp, which helps them stay on top of due dates.
- Written processes for documenting requirements, dependencies (what I need to provide) and cost estimates.
- Process for scheduling and managing dependencies like graphics or copy someone on my team has to provide.
- Design/development process checkpoints defined to insure as the project evolves, that we're on a schedule that works, delivering the results I want.
What tips can you add for hiring a contractor (or web developer)?