How to find the right web developer

  • 30 Apr 2021

By Aude Barral, co-founder of developer recruitment platform CodinGame

Building a website is a key stage in setting up and developing a business, but it can be a struggle to hire the right web developer.

The process of hiring a web developer for the first time can be bewildering for small businesses and start-ups, and finding genuinely skilled and accomplished web developers is challenging. This guide will show you where to look and what to look out for on your hunt for an excellent web developer.


Know what you’re looking for

The definition of a web developer is a software engineer who develops websites and web applications.

Some people confuse a web developer with a web designer. A web designer plans the visual appearance and user experience of a website or web app. On the other hand, a web developer creates a functional website or app based on those visual designs.

A designer doesn’t always know what is and isn’t technically possible. A web developer follows a designer’s designs as much as possible to create the planned user experience. However, a developer sometimes has to suggest design changes to make them possible to implement.

Identify key skills

You need to know that a web developer has the knowledge and skills to develop every aspect of your website – the front end, back end and databases of the website or web application.


The front end is primarily the user interface. This also communicates with the back end to request data that’s subsequently displayed to the user on the front end.

The back end of a web application carries out many tasks, such as sending data and resources back to the front end, accessing databases, and checking user account login details.

Ideally, a web developer will have a good knowledge base on how to build a web application’s front end, back end, the databases, and how to fit them all together.

Make sure they speak the right language

A good web developer will select the programming language that’s best suited for the desired functionality of your web app, rather than defaulting to the language that they’re used to. These include:

Front-end languages: All webpages are written using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. So, every web developer must be comfortable with these.


Back-end languages: A good web developer will be familiar with many different programming languages that they can use to create the back end of a web app, such as Ruby, JavaScript, Python, Java and PHP.

Database languages: A web developer should know how to access data from whatever type of database they are using. For example, they could use Structured Query Language (SQL) to query a MySQL or SQLite database.

Know where to look

Upwork and Freelancer are the largest freelance jobs websites. The benefit of these sites is the fact you can hire cheaply, but the downside is having to screen a large number of applicants to find someone suitable. Toptal and TopCoder pre-screen all their web developers to weed out weaker candidates, but you’ll pay a premium to hire someone from one of these sites.

The best social media platform for finding a web developer is LinkedIn, which lets you search for developers by their skills. You can spot a good web developer by seeing how many endorsements they have from established colleagues.


Alternatively, developers of any skill and experience level can make the code for their projects publicly available. They can publish to code repositories, such as GitHub. On GitHub, users vote for their favourite projects uploaded by other developers.

Take your time

Finding the right developer could be the most important decision you make for your website and your company.

It is not a decision to take lightly, and hiring someone who has the technical skills but not the vision could stall the growth of your business.

Similarly, hiring a developer who doesn’t have the expertise you need could leave you with a website that is not fit for purpose and damaging to your brand.

Related topics