I am in need of some advice about hiring a web developer

I am in the process of mentally laying out the framework of a website that I would like designed for a start up that I am working on. I am not a web developer. The website is related to student housing online booking. Although I believe the front end will be fairly simplistic, I believe the backend will be somewhat complex. I see the website templates that are available on this website but not sure what direction I need to be heading in with regards to my next steps of finding the right person or team to work with me on the building of the website. Ideally, I really want to find someone that is willing to contribute some creativity since I do not have a 100% scope on aesthetic design, but who also has the capacity of understanding what my expectations are of functionality. The logo is already designed and photos/video will be provided. Most importantly I am not looking for any free services, I have been receiving estimates on what it would cost to develop a website, and am prepared to pay but I need to be convinced that I will be content with the end results.

Any feedback that can point me in the right direction is very much appreciated!


Because I worked (in my real life) as a team leader and technical lead, some advise:

  1. breakdown your project into small tasks
  2. do not make payments until any work is done
  3. make sure the developer has real experience; ask for references/links/work history
  4. request also a breakdown of the costs. Do not accept a “price for the website”. Ask for details, how much each task costs.
  5. be sure to talk with the developer about the bug fixes/change requests. How many iterations does he/she offer until your expectations are fulfilled.
  6. be sure you discuss with the web developer about special situations (when he/she has family issues, etc) who and when will she/he be able to finish the tasks?
  7. make sure you both discuss who will be in charge of testing and bug fixing

If you have other questions, please feel free to share them with us :slight_smile:


“Do not make payments until any work is done”

Everything else sounds reasonable but this is a big no no.


greenline and lanonw, thanks for your comments. I agree with all things greenline listed. I have someone working on a website now with no money down. If I don’t pay eventually, I don’t get access obviously.

Deadline, deadlines, deadlines.

Have a project plan with agreed completion dates for each task or element.


All good points from others here and I’d add…

Unfortunately - you get what you pay for. It’s good you are willing to pay to get it right as even in an international marketplace having done this for a long time the simple truth is if it’s cheap there is probably a reason.

Something else to consider is if developer is writing their own code then make sure this is the case and not just shoving a load of plugins and template stuff together.

If they are open about using stock code or files then make sure you are buying them so you get future updates etc of the developer is not around.

The model you have planned is likely going to involve private customer data so it needs to be properly secure and depending where you are operating your business you may need to be able to prove that of something goes wrong.

I know some of this sounds scary and if you’re looking on here there are some of the best developers I have met but it is also easy for the less reputable ones to try and misbehave.

Feel free to send me a message if you want any help

1 Like

Adding to what others have said, it might be a good idea to hire both a designer and developer. The website that you want to build seems like a pretty complex project on the backend so you might want to have someone dedicated to backend programming to do that. While there definitely are people that are good in both designing and programming, it’s much harder to find them. Maybe you could start off with hiring a designer to do design the website while you search for a developer? Just an idea. :smile:

As a person that’s usually on the other side of the deal I would say that advance payments are pretty common. You have to understand that the developer has to invest a substantial amount of work and is at risk of not getting paid as well. What I usually do (especially when working with clients from other countries) is:

  • require 50% in advance for small projects with the other 50% paid when the work is done
  • for bigger projects (but which are still priced on per project basis) require smaller advance (usually 20%) before starting; setup milestones and get paid agreed % after each milestone

I have never met anyone who would be surprised or wouldn’t agree to pay some % in advance. I’m just telling you that so that there is no surprise for you when someone asks for advance.

Also, always sign contracts!

As a developer, I would never start work without a deposit and agreed milestone payments. When I have the need to use 3rd parties, I would never expect them to work for nothing until their work is complete!

Having built a student accommodation site, I know how long it took. If the client had backed out half way through, or gone bankrupt, or died, that is a lot of work done for nothing :smile:

I appreciate all the feedback. After taking on this website creation task, I am at a stage where I know what my capacities are. As long as I have a decent template to work with, I feel the design and content aspect is an achievable task that I actually enjoy. But now that I am at the final stages of setting up the site, I realize that the payment gateway (for my room booking business) is way above my head. Reading all the information on both paypal and authorize.net (testing with sandbox, creating APis) it’s all very interesting. But making it actually work is a totally different story. I can’t point fingers at the plugin developers [Mod: removed - calling out authors/files] because they do attempt to assist me but my lack of experience makes this a very frustrating process. I wanted to hire someone but I think I need a specialist who can resolve what remains to be incomplete. I received a quote from one (overseas) developer who I contacted from one of the plugin forums that I use, but they wanted to charge me over a $1k. I did all the hard work (I think) with setting up the accounts. I will pay someone to finish this up but I am not sure where to find that right person. I feel I am so close…yet so far away!! :confused:

try http://studio.envato.com

It might be useful to try and explain (or better still list out one by one) exactly what you need done here.

This will be required to really find someone capable, plus here you will get informed estimates of the actual complexity/likely costs even if people are unavailable to actually do the work for you.

Of course! Thanks for the helpful suggestion.

The unfinished work stems from my inability to fully understand how exactly the Booking system pro plugin and WooCOmmerce work together. They both require values to be adjusted or added in their settings pages. These values pertain to paypal keys, logins, etc. (I know how to access these keys and logins, I just need help understanding which plugin to place these in). I am not sure if these values are to be entered into both plugin settings page or just one.I tried so many variations and I still receive an error message when trying to do a mock purchase via sandbox. “Fatal error: Cannot redeclare class AuthorizeNetResponse in /home4/shw25shw/public_html/wp-content/plugins/dopbsp-authorizenet/libraries/php/authorizenet/AuthorizeNetResponse.php on line 17”