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      How to Hire a Developer for Your Website

      An attractively designed and well-coded website will help you convert customers, rank high on Google, and avoid frustrating errors and downtime.

      You can build and maintain your website using a website builder or a WordPress theme and plugins. However, working with a developer has lots of advantages, especially for business owners: you will have greater flexibility over your website’s appearance and functionality, you can rest assured that everything will function as it should, and you will also cut down on your own workload.

      Whether you are creating a new website, updating it, or simply maintaining it, hiring a developer can save you time and ensure your site runs smoothly.

      We’ve previously looked at how to hire a developer for a custom WordPress theme, and today, we’ll take you through how to hire one for any website project. We will look at how to outline your project and identify the type of developer you need, where to find and hire developers, and what your budget should be.

      Already know the answers to some of these questions? Use the links below to skip ahead to the information you need:

      How to Determine the Scope of Your Project

      Outlining the project requirements will help you choose the right web developer and budget appropriately. It will also help you communicate exactly what you need, so you are more likely to have a positive working relationship with the developer.

      One of the biggest things to consider is whether the project relates to the website’s design, coding and functionality, or both.

      • Design projects: These are normally tied to branding and user experience. Perhaps you want a new homepage layout, a more accessible color scheme, or different fonts.
      • Coding and functionality projects: These typically relate to the features your website has and how it functions. Maybe you want a chat box or a less time-consuming way to add new products to your online store.

      Sometimes, projects require both design work and coding. Your new homepage layout, for example, might need new code to embed videos or collapse and expand text.

      What Kind of Developer Do I Need?

      There are many different kinds of website developers, but now that you know the scope of your project, you can work out which one you should work with.

      1. Designer vs. Developer

      If you just need design work, then a web designer is your best option. However, if it is a functionality-based project, you will need a developer. If the project touches on both, you have a couple options: you can hire both a website designer and developer, or you can work with an agency.

      You might wonder if a graphic designer could do the job instead of a web designer. While both graphic designers and web designers create brand imagery such as logos and color schemes, a web designer also uses CSS, HTML, and potentially other programming languages to bring the designs to life on your web page.

      Plus, and perhaps even more importantly, they design with user experience in mind. This means they consider accessibility for screen readers, SEO best practices, and what your website will look like on different screens and systems.

      We’ve written a guide to hiring a designer to create a custom website, so if you decide a designer is what you’re really looking for, check that out. However, if you need a developer, keep reading.

      2. Front-end vs. Back-end Developers

      The front end of your website is the visible part the reader interacts with. The back end is the part that you use to upload new content, do security updates, and more. Sometimes, these are also called client side (front end) and server side (back end).

      These two parts of your website are built with different programming languages, so many developers specialize in either one or the other. Before you start speaking to developers, you will want to work out if this is a front-end or back-end project — or both.

      Bear in mind that some back-end developers describe themselves by the programming languages they specialize in, e.g. PHP developer or Ruby developer. If you’re looking for a back-end developer online and know what language you need, try searching for that instead.

      3. Full-Stack Developer

      Let’s say that your project involves both the front end and back end of your site. You have two options: you could either work with two developers or hire a full-stack developer.

      A full-stack developer can work on both ends of the website. They are proficient in all the main languages and frameworks and tend to be more expensive as a result.

      It’s a particularly good idea to work with a full-stack developer when you are designing a completely new website build because they can advise you on the bigger picture.

      4. Freelance vs. Full Time

      Depending on the complexity and duration of your project, you might find it best to work with a freelancer or hire a full-time web developer. Both options have their pros and cons, but it shouldn’t be too hard to work out what’s best for you and your company.

      For one-off projects with no maintenance required, a freelance website developer will likely suit your needs best. Similarly, if minimal maintenance is required, an agency or freelancer will help you keep your website running smoothly and your costs low.

      However, if you think your website will need regular and time-consuming maintenance or updates, then you could find hiring a full-time employee works out better. It can be a pricey investment: calculated that the average website developer salary listed on their website was $72,000 per year. However, it also means you have someone on-hand ready to fix anything that goes wrong. Larger businesses with more complex websites, such as banks and streaming services, often have an in-house development team.

      Alternatively, you could bring on an independent contractor full-time for the duration of your project. This works well when your project is particularly large or urgent, but you don’t foresee significant long-term maintenance. You benefit from having a dedicated web developer on the team, but you don’t have to commit to a long-term hire.

      Where to Hire a Developer

      There are lots of places where you can hire a professional developer or even a web development team online. The best option for you will depend on your priorities and amount of time. Here are some of your options:

      DreamHost’s Web Development Services

      With our web development services, you’ll have a dedicated project manager and access to a host of professional developers. It doesn’t matter if you need website design work, WordPress development, page speed optimization, or anything else: your project manager will always allocate a specialist to work on your website. Most jobs are completed within 72 hours.

      You Dream It, We Code It

      Tap into 20+ years of coding expertise when you opt for DreamHost’s Web Development service. Just let us know what you want for your site — we take it from there.

      Freelance Platforms

      Online platforms and job boards will let you outsource your web design needs to freelance developers. Some of the most popular ones include Upwork,, PeoplePerHour, Guru, and Stack Overflow.

      While the exact process can vary from one site to another, it tends to be pretty similar. You either create a job listing and wait for freelancers to contact you, or you review available freelancers and message them directly.

      There are often thousands of freelancers to pick from, so there is always someone with the right skills and experience. However, reviewing all the options and selecting someone can be time-consuming. Public reviews and work samples will help you narrow down your options.


      If you are looking for a team of professional developers, then you could try an agency. It’s a particularly good option if you know you’ll need a designer and a developer, for example.

      Unlike individual website developers, agencies don’t tend to be on freelance platforms (although there are exceptions). Instead, you have to find them by searching online or by word of mouth.


      If you are unsure who to work with, try asking your professional network or friends for recommendations. You’ll not only get a shortlist of developers who impressed people you know, but you will also be able to ask questions about their style and view their previous work.

      Budgeting: How Much Does a Web Developer Cost?

      You’ve identified what you need, who you should work with, and how to find them. Now it’s time to discuss your needs and negotiate costs.

      Freelance web designers normally charge by the project or the hour, although independent contractors may give you a day rate instead. If they charge hourly, they should also be able to give you a loose estimate of the required number of hours before you begin.

      The hourly rate of a professional web developer can vary dramatically based on their skills and experience. If you need the project completed urgently, some may also charge rush fees.

      According to Upwork, one of the most well-known platforms for hiring freelancers, the average rate of a full-stack developer in the US is $55+ per hour. An intermediate-level front-end developer, meanwhile, charges on average $35 per hour.

      However, these numbers can rise significantly if you want experienced developers. Many of Upwork’s freelance web developers charge over $100 per hour, which is in line with our experience, too.

      If you need regular web development services, you may find that signing up for a retainer is more cost-effective. This means that you purchase a set number of hours per week or month, and you normally receive them at a discounted rate.

      Let’s use DreamHost’s Web Development Services as an example. If you only sporadically need a web developer or designer, you can buy an on-demand bundle for $99–$129 per hour. However, if you purchase a monthly retainer, the per-hour rate falls to $89–$109.

      Bear in mind, however, that you may lose any hours you don’t use with retainers. Check the terms and conditions, as they can vary. For example, at DreamHost, unused hours roll over, but you can’t accrue more than double the value of your plan.

      How to Evaluate the Quality of a Web Developer

      programmer focused on code

      When hiring a web developer, it is worth taking your time to find the right one. You should look for someone who is not only within your budget but also understands your vision for your website and provides quality service.

      It can be hard to judge a web developer’s skills, especially if you don’t have a tech background. However, there are some things you should look for.

      Technical Requirements

      Simply put, is the developer proficient with all the necessary languages and applications?

      Generally speaking, if they are a front-end developer, they should know CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and common frameworks such as jQuery and Bootcamp.

      You are unlikely to come across a front-end developer who doesn’t meet these minimum technical requirements. However, you should also check that they are familiar with best practices for website accessibility and SEO.

      Back-end developers, meanwhile, will be proficient with PHP, Python, Ruby, and more. Depending on your project, you may find it is worth searching for a specialist in a particular programming language.

      You might also want to search for a WordPress developer, Shopify developer, app developer, or even a mobile developer.

      Response Time

      It’s not just a website developer’s technical skills that matter. Response time is also important, especially if you are bringing them on at the creative planning stage or to fix bugs.

      Pay attention to how quickly the developer responds when you first contact them and then negotiate the details. While freelancers generally do not reply as quickly as employees, they should still respond within a reasonable timeframe.

      Communication Skills

      Good communication isn’t only about quick response times. Ask yourself: Are they a clear communicator? Do they seem to understand what you want, and do they clarify and confirm as needed?

      When negotiating, are they direct and professional? Do they explain what you can expect, and are they transparent about budgets, timelines, pricing, and any potential complications? Do they let you know what they will need from you to get the work done?

      Are they flexible? When you express preferences or uncertainty, do they listen and then either explain or adapt?

      You’re hiring a web developer, not a marketing manager, but communication skills are still critical. They will help the project run smoothly and ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises caused by miscommunications.


      A more experienced web developer typically has higher rates, although they might work out less expensive than you would think. That’s because they also tend to work more efficiently and produce cleaner, better code than inexperienced developers.

      It’s more than just the years or the number of projects that count, however. Pay attention to the type of work the developer has previously taken on, and what kinds of companies they have worked with. Ideally, they will have similar experiences to draw on when working on your website.

      Previous Projects

      Looking at the work they’ve done previously will give you an idea of their skill and — especially for front-end developers — style.

      Most professional website developers will have a portfolio on their website, and you can also ask to see samples that are similar to your project. Typically, developers will carefully curate their portfolio to only show their most impressive work. So, if you let them know what you are looking for, you might be surprised by how many extra samples they can show you.

      Don’t be afraid to ask if you have any questions about their previous projects, but remember that some details may be confidential.

      Customer Ratings and Testimonials

      There is no better way to see what a developer is like to work with than by reading customer ratings and testimonials. Most developers will have some on their website, while platforms like Upwork feature customer reviews by default.

      When reading reviews, especially public ones, try to read between the lines. Someone else’s ideal developer might not be a good fit for you. However, paying attention to the things that are praised will give you an idea of their work and communication style.

      You’re Cordially Invited

      Join DreamHost’s Facebook group to connect with like-minded website owners and get advice from peers and experts alike!

      Hiring a Developer: Summed Up

      Working with a developer can help you keep your website looking professional and running smoothly. Whether you’re editing the WordPress theme, removing malware, or adding new features such as a shopping cart, a developer can help you achieve your goals quickly and easily — meaning you can focus on your website’s services instead of its code.

      Ready to bring a developer onto your team?

      Consider DreamHost’s Web Development Service. You’ll instantly gain access to our comprehensive team of professional developers and designers. And the process is simple: Submit your request to our team for an estimate and then we’ll get to work implementing the changes on a staged version of your site. Once you approve, we push the changes live. You dream it, we code it! Check out plans today.

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      How to Hire a Designer to Create a Custom Website

      If you need a website, there are plenty of ways you can get one. You could create it yourself, although if you lack the time or skills required, that may not be a feasible option. Your best solution may be to hire a professional, but figuring out how to find the right one and get the process started can be daunting.

      To hire a web design professional, you’ll not just need to find one who can do the job, but you’ll also need to do some preparation work. This involves planning out your project, knowing what you’ll need, and determining what you can afford to pay.

      In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of hiring a web designer to create a custom website. We’ll talk about what you should consider beforehand, how to create a plan for your site, and how to manage the project. Finally, we’ll show you how to find a designer that’s right for you. Let’s get to work!

      When You May Want to Hire a Designer to Create Your Website

      It’s true that it has never been easier for just about anybody to create a website. With little-to-no help, even inexperienced people who have never touched a single line of code or a design tool can create functional and attractive sites.

      This is mainly due to the many applications and platforms that take care of the technical aspects of site creation for you. For example, many website builders let you use templates combined with a drag-and-drop interface to build pages and create content. Even Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress are easier than ever to use, thanks to one-click installs, themes, and plugins.

      However, constructing a site by yourself is still not always feasible. Even with all those tools at your disposal, for example, you’ll still be required to learn the basics of site design and know how to use your chosen software correctly.

      Even if you know exactly what you’re doing, many websites take a considerable amount of effort and time to construct. The right tools can help you along the way, but if you don’t have the time to spare, that won’t matter much.

      It may also be that you need a site with scope and functionality that goes beyond what pre-existing assets, such as themes and plugins, can provide. For example, you might feel comfortable putting together a personal blog or portfolio. However, creating something more complex, like a membership system or e-commerce store, may not be within your comfort zone.

      In these cases, your best option is almost always simply to hire a professional for the job. There are plenty of designers available with the skills, talent, and experience to create precisely the site you need while letting you focus on other aspects of your venture.

      Hiring a designer also comes with several other potential benefits. For instance, they’ll often be able to not only design your site but also help you with creating additional design elements, such as logos and other visual assets. They may even be able to help construct your brand’s visual identity, which is a great way to gain traction quickly.

      How to Prepare Before Hiring a Designer

      Once you’ve decided to hire a professional to create your website, you’ll need to start planning it out. It’s extremely vital that you know precisely what you want out of the final result, so the designer can make it a reality. A clear plan will help you convey to them what your expectations are, how you want the final product to look, and what exactly you’re paying them to create.

      First and foremost, you’ll need to define your goals and the site’s purpose. For example, is your new site a commercial venture, such as an online store or a company site, or is it more of a personal project? From there, you can start deciding what you want from your site, how it should look, what type of content it will contain, and what functionality it will require.

      The size and level of your site’s intricacy are equally important to nail down at this early stage. For example, a basic but crucial question to consider is how many pages you want it to contain. The more pages you need, the larger the scale of the project will be.

      In turn, the answers to all of these questions will help you when it comes to what is arguably the most important point of all: budget. In short, how much can you afford to spend on your site? This will not only affect who you can afford to hire for the job, but if you should approach a single freelancer or reach out to an agency with multiple designers and developers.

      These are only a small handful of considerations, but they represent a solid start for planning out your project. We’ve previously discussed the ideal game plan for designing a site at length, so we recommend that you check out that advice as well.

      What You Need to Consider When Working With a Designer

      While it’s crucial to plan for your website, it’s equally critical that you know how to manage the project once your designer has started working on it. Not only will this ensure a smooth workflow for all involved parties, but it will also help to prevent miscommunications or any unwelcome surprises.

      With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most important considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when hiring a designer. You’ll need to:

      • Be clear about your goals. Once you’ve defined your goals, don’t be ambiguous about them. Clearly communicate what you want, including your overall vision for the site, and what specifically you’re asking the designer to produce. This will ensure that they know what’s required of them upfront, increasing the odds that you’ll be happy with the result.
      • Provide them with all the required information and assets. It’s also vital that your designer has the right information and tools needed to complete the work. What this means will naturally depend on the specific project’s requirements, but could include elements like art assets, photos you want to use, content, product information, and so on.
      • Understand what’s involved in the process. Even if you’re not directly involved with the site design process, it’s still helpful to have a general grasp of what it entails. If you understand the general steps involved, you’ll have a much clearer idea of your project’s timeline and a better understanding of the work your designers are doing.
      • Create a clear roadmap for the project. Speaking of timelines, you should also aim to define a clear roadmap, including deadlines and milestones. Make sure you’re realistic about your expectations, both when it comes to workload and the final product.
      • Communicate clearly throughout the project. We’ve discussed the importance of this already, and fortunately, it shouldn’t be difficult to do as long as you’re using a medium that works for everyone involved. It’s best to decide upfront what your primary channels of communication will be, whether that’s email, phone, or an application.
      • Be clear about the project’s budget. In short, everyone should know exactly what they’re being paid to do and how much they’re getting. This will help avoid situations where you’re faced with unexpected extra charges down the line.

      At the end of the day, it’s essential that both you and the designer are in sync when it comes to expectations and goals. As long as you plan thoroughly and communicate well throughout the project, this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.

      How to Hire a Designer to Create a Custom Website (2 Options)

      By now, you should have a better understanding of when and why you should consider hiring a designer for your website. We’ve also discussed how to prepare for the project. All that’s left is to look at how actually to go about finding and recruiting one or more designers.  There are two primary avenues available to you, so we’re going to discuss each one in turn.

      1. Hire One or More Freelancers

      When you have a plan in place and know what you want, it’s time to start finding the right person for the job. Many people decide to hire freelancers to build their websites, and it’s not hard to see why. There are a lot of them to choose from. In fact, over 53 million Americans work as freelancers.

      Going with the freelance option has a few benefits. For one, you can look for someone who specializes in exactly the type of project you require and get a feel for their stylistic sensibilities by looking at examples of their previous work. They also tend to offer plenty of flexibility when it comes to the scope of the project, working hours, deadlines, and budget.

      If your budget doesn’t stretch very far, you may also be able to find less experienced freelancers who will work for cheaper than an agency or more prominent competitors. That said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay them what they’re worth or suggest that they work “for exposure.” It just means you might be able to spend less, and they get a chance to earn money while gaining more experience in the field.

      However, using one or more freelancers can also have its downsides. For one, you may be limiting the potential scope of your site, especially if you can’t afford to hire multiple designers. If you do hire more than one person, on the other hand, this might make the process of managing the project more difficult, as communication can become fractured across multiple parties. You may also find that if the parameters of your project change, the designer may not have the necessary skills to handle any new requirements.

      If you decide you want to use a freelancer to design your site, there are plenty of ways to find the right one. There are many sites dedicated to connecting specialized freelancers with projects that match their skills, such as PeoplePerHour, Guru, and Upwork. The latter in particular is a terrific option.

      Browsing designers on Upwork.

      On Upwork, you can browse for suitable candidates and view their profiles to see more information.

      Viewing a designer’s profile in Upwork.

      When trying to find the right candidate, it’s a good idea to study each prospect’s portfolio carefully. Are the sites they’ve created similar to what you have in mind? This also gives you a chance to see what their skills and weaknesses are, which will make it easier to understand if they’d be a good fit for the job.

      Similarly, you should also look for reviews and recommendations, including testimonials.

      User reviews on an Upwork profile.

      In addition to giving you valuable information about their abilities, this will also provide you with an idea of what it’s like to work with that person. You’ll naturally want to look for skills like strong communication, flexibility, reliability, and so on.

      Once you’ve found a freelancer you’d like to approach, you can use the contact form to get in touch. However, you may not even need to do that, as Upwork will help you find suitable freelancers when you post a job. You can then use the same interface to communicate, transfer files, and even handle payments.

      2. Hire a Web Design Firm

      If you find that a freelancer alone is not able to fulfill your requirements, or you simply want a more complete solution including additional work beyond website design, the best option is to hire an agency.

      Working directly with an agency has a number of advantages, including expanding the potential scope of your project. These types of firms will usually have teams of employees who can create much larger sites with advanced functionality. They also tend to offer additional services, such as helping you build visual branding for your website and business.

      A design firm also provides more reliability than freelancers do. For example, if you hire Freelancer X and they’re unexpectedly incapable of proceeding with the work due to illness or other external factors, you’re in trouble. However, with an agency, you can always rest assured that the job will get done.

      The major hurdle with using this option is naturally the price. However, even in this regard you have some freedom, as you can scale the final cost to match your budget.

      Professional Web Design Made Easy

      Let’s actually look at how this works with DreamHost’s own design services. We’ve partnered with RipeConcepts, one of the world’s leading web design firms, to provide several different design services to our customers.

      The DreamHost web design landing page.

      By choosing one of these packages, you can have professional designers create your site for you. You can opt for a simple microsite with basic features for as little as $299. Or you can create a fully-functional e-commerce solution, including a blog, image gallery, up to 20 custom pages, social media integration, and responsive design.

      The different design service tiers offered by DreamHost.

      DreamHost also offers branding services, where our designers create a logo, business cards, email signatures, and even a branded letterhead for you. Combined with our other design services, this lets you create an entire visual identity for your brand and website in one go.

      Finally, we also provide optional add-ons, which enable you to select additional features you want to include on your site.Optional add-ons provided by DreamHost.

      Considering the scope of what these packages offer, combined with the tiered options, this is an easy and price-effective way to get any type of website off the ground — especially if you’re already a DreamHost customer.

      Custom By Design

      Sometimes it’s best to rely on professionals to create your website. However, to make sure you get the results you need, you have to come prepared. You’ll also need to know where you can find the best designers, and how to spot which ones provide services that match your requirements.

      Do you have any questions about hiring a designer, or any of our web design packages? Let us know by starting the conversation in the DreamHost Community forum!

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