My Stupid Simple 4-Step Process For Hiring Kick-Ass Developers

I’ve coded the first few versions of Easy Pricing Tables myself. After a while the need to get a developer on board became apparent so I’ve decided to pull the trigger and hire. In this post I’m sharing what I’ve learned.

Why hire a developer?

What matters most in making Easy Pricing Tables successful is creating a great product as well as marketing said product.

While the code is the heart of the product, I believe that stepping away from writing code will result in a better product. A good friend told me that most developers comprise usability if you let them write code and make product design decisions at the same time.

For example, a small UI improvement might be a few hours of work. If you’re both designing and developing the same application, you might opt to skip this improvement in order to save yourself time, even though it would result in a better end product.

Another reason to hire: A senior WordPress developer with years of experience is going to write better code faster. My usual rate for SEO client work is a lot higher than that of a lot of great developers, so I could offset development expenses by taking on more client work.

Here’s what my hiring process looked like. (Of course I’m turning this into a Standard Operating Procedure.)

The hiring process

My process has been heavily inspired by this great post: “How I hired a great web developer on oDesk for $12/hr”.

Step: 1 Write a Job Posting

Here’s the job offer I’ve posted:

Do you love WordPress? Looking for a rockstar WP Plugin Developer

Job Description

I’m looking for an experienced WordPress plugin developer.

I’ve coded the initial minimum viable product of the WordPress plugin myself. Now, I would like someone to take over development.

I’m hoping you can take over the majority of current development tasks so I can focus on what I’m good at (marketing, running my business).

Scope

This project will be a few hours to start with. If things go well, this project could easily scale to 15–20 hours per week over the next couple of weeks. There might be an opportunity for ongoing engagement as well.

Contractor Requirements

The ideal contractor:

  1. Has lots of WP plugin development experience.
  2. Not only knows PHP & WP, but also HTML/CSS/JS
  3. Bonus points if you’ve written a WP plugin that is hosted on wordpress.org or contributed to the wordpress core
  4. Is familiar with git

How To Apply

If you are interested in this job, please respond with the following: 1. Detail your WordPress development experience. 2. Please include a code sample (ideally a WordPress plugin) of some code you’ve previously written. 3. What’s your favorite version control system? 4. What’s your favorite WP plugin?

Thank you, David

######

The questions in the ‘How To Apply’ section both helped me screen out applicants that apply without reading my job posting, as well as getting a better understanding of the applicant.

I’ve both posted this job on Odesk and Freelancer.com. Freelancer.com seemed to have a slightly better pool of applicants. The person I’ve hired was from Freelancer.com.

Step 2: Screen applicants

The goal was to create a short list of 2–4 candidates by reviewing all applicants, their past work and code samples. I gave bonus points to developers with a published plugin in the WordPress repository.

Step 3: Set Up A Mini-Project – Easy Call To Action Buttons

Next I’ve set up a test project to compare the quality of work of each developer.

To not waste resources, I’ve come up with a project that might eventually be useful in promoting Easy Pricing Tables: Easy Call To Action Buttons is a WordPress plugin that lets you deploy beautiful call to action buttons with ease.

If you are curious, here are the development specs.

I was tempted to let all of my 4 candidates create separate test projects (so I’d have 4 small WordPress plugins I could publish), but I’m glad I didn’t. Letting all of them work on the same project made it a lot easier to compare the quality of their work.

4. The Results

candidates

The Results

The results were interesting. My Lithuanian candidate beat all other candidates by a wide margin, both in terms of quality of work and time needed.

My Lithuanian candidate was 6x faster than both Indian developers and the quality of work was 3x as good. Having multiple candidates do test projects will be an absolute must for all my future hires.

Between this and various anecdotes from friends there seems to be a clear trend that Eastern European developers are by far the best value for money – great quality of work but still affordable.

easy-call-to-action-buttons

Easy Call To Action Buttons

The test project was also a success in terms of product development – I’ll soon release Easy Call To Action Buttons in the WordPress.org repository.

Wrapping up…

Hiring a great developer is easier and less scary than you think. Even if you are a technical founder it might make sense to hire development help. Your product quality and your marketing is going to make or break your business, not your code.

But what if I don’t know how to code?

Hiring developers is a bit easier if you have prior development experience. However, this process will still work for non-technical founders. With a test project you’ll still be able to determine if your candidate followed your instructions and if the code works.

#####

What about you? Have you hired developers in the past? What has worked for you (and what hasn’t)? Let me know in the comments below…