Written by Beth Downey

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard these words from a potential or current client:

“Yeah, so my last web developer just disappeared on me.”

And it’s not just me. I hear my tech colleagues talk about this phenomenon often. Who are these people who apparently have piles of money to roll around in, so they can avoid phone calls and emails and not do the work?

There is no reason for anyone to be treated badly or “ghosted” by a web developer in 2018. Here are a few tips for finding a good reliable person to work on your website:

Do your homework
The internet has all sorts of ways you can be a private eye and do investigative legwork on the people you hire. Does your prospective web developer have a website of their own that shows samples of their work? If not, that’s a potential red flag. Although there are always cases of “the cobblers children have no shoes;” most web developers can submit a list of client sites completed if they haven’t had an opportunity to organize them into their own website. Do they have a social media page where they post regularly and engage with followers? Do a quick Google search. Does this person or company have a LinkedIn account? Most reputable coders have an extensive work history and recommendations available to view on their LinkedIn profile page.

Look at their code
Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but you should get to know Github. Github is a code repository. Developers push their code to Github when they are working on a project. When a developer is collaboring with other people who are working on the same codebase, Github acts as a version control system.

Here’s how it works: say developer Jim and I are working on the same website template – the homepage – at the same time. Jim is working on the photo slider in one area and I’m working on another feature, a “who we are” section that shows head shots and bios of a work team. By pushing our code to Github, Jim and I both can work on that template at the same time without risk of overwriting one another’s work.

Why does this matter to someone hiring a developer. You, the client, might not be able to read the code, but you can see the amount of code that is there and therefore determine the amount of work a developer accomplished over a period of time. Below is a snapshot of my contributions to Github over the last year. The dark green squares represent several repository contributions in a day. The light green indicates that I contributed only one or two commits in the span of time (usually one day) that square represents.

Ask for referrals
Any web developer you hire should be able to point you to at least a few former or current clients who are happy with the work that has been performed. Don’t be afraid to ask for a list of two of three people who have paid to have work done on their websites, and preferably the same type of work you’re looking to have done. If you need a website to show off a portfolio, ask for referrals of clients who have online portfolios. And don’t just look at the sites – talk to them. Are you planning on selling goods or services online? Ask about the developer’s eCommerce experiences. And back to LinkedIn – a properly populated LinkedIn profile will include more than a few work recommendations by people who have either managed or hired the person you’re investigating.

If you do a little bit of due diligence, it’s fairly easy to find a web developer who has the skills to do a great job with your website and wants to maintain a long-term relationship with you. We’re out here – and we’re not that hard to find if you look.