How to Find the Best WordPress Developers

These days, the development community seems to be getting kind of crowded. Developers everywhere! These crowds may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your particular perspective.

On one hand, someone searching for a developer has more choices. They can find exactly the right abilities and specialties they need and of the highest quality.

On the other hand, having so many choices means you may have to spend a lot much time weeding through all sorts of so-so developers. There are so many who don’t quite have the skills you’re looking for or even none of what you want.

This is particularly true in the WordPress world, where pretty much anyone can call themselves a developer. The abundance of tools, plug-ins, and templates, along with an active and generally supportive user community means that it’s not particularly hard to walk yourself through a basic tutorial or learn to tweak existing code to make a page do what you want.

It also means that there is a vast range of WordPress developers out there, from legitimate experts who have been making amazing sites and features for years to those who get the job done mostly by dumb luck, imitation, and repetition.

Hiring the right one can be tricky, as every business has different needs that line up with certain technical abilities. It’s also important to do whatever you can to avoid the really bad developers, who legitimately can cause actual harm to your business. Besides costing you money, the consequences of choosing poorly can be everything from a lackluster site to a dangerously unsecure site to theft of customer financial information.

Methods for Hiring Great Developers

Professionals seeking a developer can try a variety of methods:

  • Figure out your objective − Start by determining why you want a developer. This will guide you in your search. Do you want to do a limited contract for a specific project (like a feature build)? Do you have several projects in mind? Do you want to try out people on smaller projects and then move the qualified ones onto larger projects? Are you seeking an employee to potentially stick around your organization for years? Will you have duties beyond WordPress development for them? Consider creating a project brief which will give your team the scope of the project and what a developer would be needed for.
  • What’s your budget? − Even if you would ideally prefer a WordPress veteran, you may not able to afford them. Or perhaps they could be exactly what you need for something simple. Likewise, you may wonder why someone’s suggested price is so high or so low. That’s why it’s important to know the general salary/contract range in your area for certain skills and experience. Some of these questions can be brought up in an interview situation as well. Perhaps someone is taking a job for less than the going rate just for the experience or a chance to work for a certain employer. They could be seeking something shorter and easier between bigger jobs. Or they may want the stability of a longer-term gig.
  • What competency do you want or need? − Do you want someone who is slightly more knowledgeable than you but has spare time? Or someone with extensive experience to do everything you can’t? WordPress has a reputation for being easy for anyone to learn at their own pace, and there are plenty of tutorials. This also means there aren’t any universal standards or certifications, so past work is an important thing to look at. Some hiring managers may simply give an experience requirement to filter out the weaker newcomers (like two or three years of WordPress). Knowing PHP well and how to work with APIs also can be vital ways of separating the better developers from the less-good ones. Some JavaScript and MySQL knowledge never hurts either. To really understand a candidate’s qualifications, skill testing platforms are a simple and cost-effective choice.
  • Provide clear expectations − Employers can easily make bad hires if they don’t ask the right questions or are impressed with the wrong qualities. For instance, HR managers may be interested in a candidate’s interpersonal abilities and communication skills. These are important for ‘fit’ within a culture, but it says nothing about how they are at coding. Their actual skills will separate the good candidates from the weaker candidates before determining culture fit. In these cases, consider asking other WordPress development experts you know to help, either from your own organization or from the developer community. They can join you in the interview or evaluate the look and code of past projects the candidate has created. You can also bring in others who potentially would be working with this person, including other developers or designers.
  • Go where the developers are − The better developers may or may not read the newspaper or visit Craigslist regularly. Putting out a call for developers at some common places for other job types may either lead to few results or sub-par results. If you’re trying to find higher quality candidates, look for online job boards or forums that developers frequent. Some of them can be common freelance/contract sites like Upwork or Freelancer. Some are more geared to developers specifically, such Codeable or Toptal. Some find candidates for the long-haul, others, like Fiverr, can be used for quick fixes. There are also developer-focused sites like WPHired and WPMUDev which provide screening for potential employers/contractors, such as only forwarding candidates that match certain sought abilities like years of service and specific programming language knowledge.
  • Ask around − The ease of remote access means that your developer candidate can potentially live anywhere in the world. You may never actually meet them in person. But what if you do want a candidate to actually come and work at your office? In this case, you might not need to extend your search nationally or internationally. Look for creative ways to attract their attention at a local level, from college computer labs to game shops to even the local paper. You can legally check with past employers or even instructors if they studied coding or computer science at a local college or university. You’ll also have the ability to meet them in person.

Overall, hiring the right candidate with superior WordPress skills is a good move for your organization. Further, it will also help them to build their competence. But making this connection can be a challenge. Follow these simple guidelines to find the right person for the job.