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Developer Needed , How to find one

vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP
edited November 2013 in Tutorials

I have seen many people come in and looking to hire a Developer to help them with their site/forum. It is rare that someone from here takes on the jobs. Not for the lack of interest maybe , but from the lack of information about the job that is being offered.

You must be clear about what you are looking for. Provide a sketch or mock up of what you are looking for in design if that is what you need help with. Or a flow chart of how you want the site to run and realistic expectations about what it would cost you to hire someone.

It is important that you research the going rates for hiring developers . Here is an example of what the Job might fetch yearly for a developer of a variety of levels .

http://www.indeed.com/salary/Web-Developer.html

There is a difference between a web designer and a web developer. Even though both involve similar aspects and intersect at some level. Their income is what varies from one to the other. Form and function. The latter being the most important hence fetches more money.

Be prepared to be able to pay the going rate or be satisfied with lower standards by less capable people.

The Difference Between Web Designer and a Web Developer

Definitions:

Web developer

A web developer is a person who develops websites from the ground up. They know the languages (given that HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language we will classify it a language) they are using (including, but not limited to HTML, Javascript), as well as the style sheets. They may use fancy syntax highlighters, but they don’t require them to successfully create a site.

Web designer

A web designer is a person who uses graphics programs such as Photoshop, Gimp, Fireworks and the like to create website skins (layouts) and then use another program (such as Dreamweaver or Visual Web Developer) to make their design come to life for the web. They almost solely rely on the design views the program they use provides.
Why do we need to address the difference?
While the difference between web designer and web developer may not be overly significant to many it becomes one of the most frustrating things webmasters have to worry about, especially if they are attempting to get a job as a freelance professional or from someone without the knowledge of a difference.

This may not appear to be that big of a deal, but when you are talking pay it becomes important. The high end salary for a web designer is between $52,000 and $85,000. Now, again we have defined a web designer as someone who uses programs like Dreamweaver in design view to put together a skin they created in a program like Photoshop, but the real-world defines their job as the following:

“A web designer usually has some experience with graphic design and with actually building a web page; research into user experience and effective testing strategies can also be beneficial to the art of web design.”

Now, look at the pay grade for a web developer. They earn (on the high end again) between $76,000 and $104,000, and their real-world definition looks like so:
“ Write, modify, and debug software for web sites. Write code to generate web pages, access databases and business logic servers. Work with designers and content producers. Test and document software for web sites.”

The common webmaster

Just because web developer and web designer is defined as different jobs and has a different pay grade really doesn’t tell us what we want to know: Which category do I fall into? There is a simple answer to that, you either fall clearly into one of the definitions I placed above, or you are a hybrid of the two. The latter is becoming more and more common in today’s age as people need to be able to offer their employer more than the next person to get a job.

So, what is wrong with being a web designer (besides the lower pay grade) ?

Nothing is wrong with being a web designer. The problem lies with those people who say they are that which they aren’t. I am talking about people claiming to be web developers who don’t know any backend (server side) programming languages and have never had to deal with modifying a database in their life. These are the people who drive down the pay the real web developers can expect for their toils. You must confirm they know what they claim to know by asking for example of their work. That or some education degree that certifies them in the field. After all, you are going to pay these people so it does not hurt to check them out. They will check you out to see if you are for real too. This is business.

Relying on a program is something that should never happen to a web developer; they should use what is available, but accomplish their task no matter the programs available.

Know what you need and choose the right person to accomplish it.

Choose a Web Developer to get a site Up and Functional.

This Developer must have a good sense of the asthetics of what you want to convey to your users. Once the site is up and running and you find there is a need to further the design, then hire a designer who can "Skin" the site and make it awesome.

If you can't afford the going rate, you should learn some of this yourself, at least the basics so you can understand how to fix and install things yourself with the help of others who are willing to give you tips along the way.

UnderDogbusinessdadrickumali
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Comments

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP
    edited September 2013

    Thanks for the contribution. I just would like to point out that a salary cannot be compared to consultant rates. When a person earns a salary of $100.000/year as a permanent employee, the same person could easily charge twice that amount as a freelancer, due to a series of factors like increased costs, risks, less benefits, and so on. Also, a lot depends on the consultant's location.

    A person I know lives in a Country where $20000/year are considered a very good income for an employee (as I wrote, consultants charge more). Where I live, that amount is less than the minimum wage established by law.

    A personal note about the whole web designer/web developer topic. In my experience, they are two different and distinct figures, with some things in common, but it's extremely rare to find someone who is really good at both. So far, every person I met who described him/herself as designer and developer was eventually good at one task, but poor at the other, or mediocre at both. That's why many design and development firms are teams which can support each other.

    vrijvlinder
  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP
    edited September 2013

    Yes, What I was trying to point out is that to hire someone means to pay them and people need to find out an approximate value. Surely there is more money to be made in various ways however the consideration to hire a freelancer over a salaried employee is a matter of what they need, short or long term. As you pointed out it could cost more or it could cost less but it will cost. Knowing what it might cost as an average allows people to decide whether they have the budget or not.

    Many folks come in thinking they need a developer but after some toiling they are able to do it themselves with some help. Installing and running Vanilla does not require a developer , just someone who can work with these types of things and even if they don't learning is easy.

    So what is it that they want out of a developer here? Likely to customize or create plugins to work exclusively for them. People need to take into consideration that the job is a one off. A one of a kind for just those people and the plugin or app will be useless to anyone else so the developer can not make money off this but once. How much is it worth ? How do you estimate the job and it's value?

    Most people who come in needing a dev are what has been described, they know a little of this and that but not enough to do complex coding etc and got in too deep from lack of knowledge. They could be people who are helping someone else set up a website or forum and they can't cut it with what they know. Or are being asked to create something and they can't.

    It would be helpful to place a chart of approximate values or hourly rates. The problem is who will supervise that the dev is putting in those amounts of hours ? I can charge for an hour's worth of work and only take 15 minutes to do it.

    What would I charge someone and how much? I do know that the work involved more than 100 hours of work. So the logical way to charge would be for those 100 hours of work.

    How much is an average hour's worth of work ? If you use the examples in the link I posted , it comes between 50 and over 100 dollars an hour to make that per year. Let's take the small number , $50 x 100 hours=$5000 .
    Let's go smaller $20 x 100=$2000

    If you find the cost is too much for simple work, work that you think some people could do in 10 minutes, my suggestion is, learn how to do it yourself and invest that money in school and software.

    So if you need a dev, a good one, be prepared to shell out at least that much for substantial quality work and support.

    A personal note about the whole web designer/web developer topic. In my experience, they are two different and distinct figures, with some things in common, but it's extremely rare to find someone who is really good at both.

    I agree, I am a designer not a developer even though I mess around with developing , I would not take on a job I could not do or have not mastered. But I would defend my design eye as my own and a good one. Mostly because to me it is artistic creative work .

    The developer area to me , is like the plumbing in the wall, no one sees it but it works, has to work. The designer area is like the valve cover and handles and faucets. They both work together but without the plumbing there is no water or drain and makes the valves and faucets and fixtures useless .

    That's why many design and development firms are teams which can support each other.

    Many brains are always better :)

    So far, every person I met who described him/herself as designer and developer was eventually good at one task, but poor at the other, or mediocre at both.

    I think it takes more knowledge to be a developer than a designer. Not to say design is always a walk in the park, but dev is hard core and it takes more experience to master than design .

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @vrijvlinder said:
    It would be helpful to place a chart of approximate values or hourly rates. The problem is who will supervise that the dev is putting in those amounts of hours ? I can charge for an hour's worth of work and only take 15 minutes to do it.

    That's why I advise against hourly rates and I encourage fixed price project instead, whenever it's possible. A bit like buying a car: you choose the brand and model, agree on a price and a delivery date. If it costs the manufacturer one dollar, or a billion to make it, that's no longer your problem. You won't get a bunch of employees coming to your house, to build the car under your nose, so that you can check that they put in the hours you expected.

    In my experience, the "project" approach is the best for both the customer and the consultant. If, as you say, a task takes me 15 minutes, I could give an estimate of one hour (to cover mistakes, "surprises", etc) and pass it to the customer. The customer then decides that the amount is in his budget and we have a deal. At the end, I might really spend only 15 minutes, but that becomes irrelevant. This encourages consultants to give realistic estimates and provides customers with a clear budget, which won't increase depending on the consultant's slowness. Also, a consultant cannot cut corners to save time, because fixes have to be included in the estimate, and won't be paid for.

    vrijvlinder
  • @businessdad said:
    That's why I advise against hourly rates and I encourage fixed price project instead, whenever it's possible. A bit like buying a car: you choose the brand and model, agree on a price and a delivery date. If it costs the manufacturer one dollar, or a billion to make it, that's no longer your problem. You won't get a bunch of employees coming to your house, to build the car under your nose, so that you can check that they put in the hours you expected.

    I do the opposite, fixed price=risk

    grep is your friend.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @x00 said:
    I do the opposite, fixed price=risk

    That's only true if you can't estimate a project accurately. Risks are part of running a business. From my perspective, if one doesn't want to take risks, then he should not run a business. As a customer, I would never accept an estimate like "it will take the time it will take".

    Personally, using the fixed price model, I missed the target only in two projects, in all the others I got a much better deal than I would have had by working on hourly rates. Besides, being paid by the hour gives all the reasons to be as slow as possible (more hours = more money). Despite that, in Ireland and UK they even came out with the "daily rate" model, which, in my experience, is probably the most absurd of all.

    In mainland Europe, working by fixed price is more common. I adopt an hourly rate model only for tasks for which giving an estimate is practically impossible, such as troubleshooting of 3rd party systems or software.

  • x00x00 MVP
    edited September 2013

    I favour the retainer model which the client sets a budget, and how many hours the want to retain per month and they can use additional hours if available.

    My modification of the retainer model is I invoice them after (only if they are good clients).

    It is not as if you can't keep them informed. It is a trust thing after all. You have to build trust in each other. If you rip them off they aren't going to come back.

    Btw what to you do for the planning stage? are you sensible enough if you need to do an evaluation to add security, or an evaluation fee.

    Or do you first see if you can take on the project, even if that means work that you might not get paid for?

    grep is your friend.

    vrijvlinder
  • one myth about the hourly model is it is actual hours, usually you clock much less than the actual hours worked. I charge for productive hours.

    grep is your friend.

  • I used to do fixed price in general and I'm not really a fan of it. Projects evolve, the alternative allows you to adapt to the client needs without constant quoting. I thing fixed price breeds a cheap culture, where it is ok to add another to the pile, of it is very much on a one off basis rather than a relationship.

    I will actually be using fixed price a different context, so I'm not discounting it altogether, but these are things I'm very sure about, or the work is already done.

    grep is your friend.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @x00 said:
    Btw what to you do for the planning stage? are you sensible enough if you need to do an evaluation to add security, or an evaluation fee.

    Or do you first see if you can take on the project, even if that means work that you might not get paid for?

    For planning, I adopt two approaches:

    • If project is small enough, I factor the analysis in the overall cost. If customer decides not to go on with it after the analysis phase, I don't charge anything (usually, it's no more than one hour of work). This happened a couple of times on this forum, when customers realised that the final estimate was too high for them. I still gave them a summary of my plan, to keep as a reference, but I didn't produce a detailed analysis.
    • If project is of significant complexity, I charge for analysis separately, on an hourly rate basis (I usually inform customers of how much such analysis will cost, more or less). When the document is completed, customer pays for it and can keep it, whether he decides to go on with the project or not.

    It's true that, in first case, I might have to do some work for which I'm not paid, but it's a risk I'm willing to take and customers appreciate it, as every project becomes "our project", and not "some work you have to pay me for".

    vrijvlinder
  • x00x00 MVP
    edited September 2013

    every project becomes "our project", and not "some work you have to pay me for"

    I don't share this view. I think linking a project to the work doesn't diminish the service, or the inclusiveness. I think it is an honest approach. Personally it can actually happen that in fix price, that it can be throwaway relationship, especially with some operators.

    They bid on project, they don't care what happens next. In fact some don't even care if they are able to complete the job, they dump them, they don't follow up with testing an fixed. Simply something that just about works then move on.

    grep is your friend.

  • x00x00 MVP
    edited September 2013

    whether you do fixed price or not the connection between work=time=money should be clearly linked, and you should make clear any wrong assumptions about the nature of those.

    grep is your friend.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @x00 said:
    They bid on project, they don't care what happens next. In fact some don't even care if they are able to complete the job, they dump them, they don't follow up with testing an fixed. Simply something that just about works then move on.

    This is the point: if it's not complete, they don't get paid. If it doesn't work and they don't fix it, they don't get paid. If it doesn't match specifications without a good reason, they don't get paid. If they got paid something upfront, they receive a chargeback, so they don't get paid. This rule alone filters out many "cowboys", because it requires a level of commitment that not everybody is willing to give.

  • this is why I invoice after I can demonstrate.

    grep is your friend.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @x00 said:
    whether you do fixed price or not the connection between work=time=money should be clearly linked, and you should make clear any wrong assumptions about the nature of those.

    That's for sure. I'm willing to give some free help, but that doesn't mean that I work for free or that I accept low rates. I don't even try to compete with cheap developers, I simply can't afford it. The time I invest in a project and the time I invested to acquire the experience I have are valuable. This is something I make clear to all customer. I know my worth and I'm not going to go lower than that.

  • I like the idea of atomic fixed price (small changes), which I will be doing in appropriate context.

    grep is your friend.

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    Ok so what you are saying is you would charge based on the project and other times per hour ?

    I also feel fixed price is not a good idea unless you know exactly how long it will take and how it will be done.

    The retainer sounds like a better option for both the hired and the one hiring. That way everything is covered in case of under estimating.

    @businessdad and @ x00

    Would you agree that most people underestimate their work ?

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2013

    Would you agree that most people underestimate their work ?

    if you didn't overestimate or underestimate - you would certainly give up after a while, because it would be a drudgery and not a challenge. The only way an estimate can be pretty accurate is if you spent a "good amount of time" on creating the estimate (which based on the people looking to hire and their budgets) would be a tremendous waste of time (unless you have a long-standing client). But most forum owners looking for development are looking for a cost estimate of "free". Depending on the client, if they have more and more questions after project is "complete", you can waste more hours answering questions, than the initial cost of doing the project. So, you need to know your client, and how much time they are going to kill after project specs are met and coding is complete. As can clearly be seen on discussions that have been answered in the first reply, but go on for hours and days by some, because they just don't get it the first time.

    And for the record, @BusinessDad, I can tell you first hand, that expecting people to donate for plugins that they find valuable is a losing proposition (14,000 downloads of my plugins and 1000 downloads in the past month). BusinessDad, I have come to realize that you made the right decision to only to write Premium plugins (pay first and license), and I laud you for that. I hope you have been getting lots of buyers. It just isn't worth writing plugins for monetary reasons (unless you had good sponsorship) and having an expectation that other forum owners will donate after the fact, because they won't, and don't appreciate the effort.

    I haven't figured out, why sending $5 or $10 if you use a valuable plugin is such a monetary drain on a forum owner for something that might have taken the developer $1000's of dollars of man-hours.

    • If you use a great theme that makes your site more appealing,
    • or use a plugin that draws more people in to your site,
    • or use a plugin that helps you manage your site or even use it (e.g. spam deterrence),

    one would think sending a donation wouldn't be too onerous. But that gives an example of how much people appreciate the work and the willingness to pay even a token amount, so I figure the odds of a client coming to this forum and asking for development based on any kind of pay for a web site with vanilla forums is pretty much a moot point.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

    vrijvlinderbusinessdad
  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator

    For the clients that I have never met, I use a baseline fee (something of a retainer, essentially) and charge per task. Seems to work well as I know immediately if the client is unwilling to pay for work in my (admittedly low end) range.

    Search first

    Check out the Documentation! We are always looking for new content and pull requests.

    Click on insightful, awesome, and funny reactions to thank community volunteers for their valuable posts.

    vrijvlinder
  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    @peregrine said: But most forum owners looking for development are looking for a cost estimate of "free".

    I noticed that too. I think it is because they do not understand the software and also the process of development for the software extensions.

    Also that in most of their minds, they are under the impression that just because you know something well that it should only take 10 minutes to make.... How can they know this if they do not understand how to do it ?

    I can tell you first hand, that expecting people to donate for plugins that they find valuable is a losing proposition.I haven't figured out, why sending $5 or $10 if you use a valuable plugin is such a monetary drain on a forum owner for something that might have taken the developer $1000's of dollars or man-hours.

    I can't understand this either. And they also expect support after. People should donate what they can as often as possible. And 5 or 10 bucks is not too much for someone to come up with.

    It is a good idea to put a minimum so they have a basic amount to pic. Not that it will get them to donate but many don't know how much is the minimum. Everyone who owns a computer and has a forum, has got to have at least 10 dollars to spare.

    I figure the odds of a client coming to this forum and asking for development based on any kind of pay for a web site with vanilla forums is pretty much a moot point.

    Yes , which is why no one ever takes those jobs. The one who is willing to hire needs to know what they want and also have some idea what it will cost them.

    I do plumbing work. So I am a great plumber. Plumbers make a good chunk of change based on an hourly rate and also per one off job. I can build a new bathroom or fix a faucet.

    It normally takes 5 minutes to repair a leaking faucet. Most of the clients I have had were senior citizens on a fixed income and I dislike taking advantage. The going rate to fix a leaking faucet is about $100 to come to the house.

    I tell them that is what it may cost, but if it takes me 5 minutes, I can't justify charging $100 . I charge them $20 bucks. That is still a lot for only 5 minutes of work.

    What I am trying to say is that I also give away my work , but I choose the ones based on their situation. If money is no obstacle to them and they are loaded, I also do not take advantage, however I am more conservative and charge what it is.

    @peregrine I have seen you do the same thing, you have given away your work more times than not and it does make me mad that more have not donated to you.

    Maybe I will write a How to donate tutorial ....

  • @vrijvlinder said:
    this one ?

    where is the col crying out loud. lol.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

    vrijvlinder
  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    yes I suppose that was not sad enough...this one is better but also could serve as laughing until you cry lol

  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator

    @peregrine said:
    I can tell you first hand, that expecting people to donate for plugins that they find valuable is a losing proposition (14,000 downloads of my plugins and 1000 downloads in the past month).

    Conversion rates on donations are terrible. While every instance will be different, an average ratio of impressions to donations for a simple donate button will be around 0.02%. That is 2 hundredths of a percent! Assuming you have 14,000 impressions, you can expect a whopping 2.8 people to donate. There are definitely ways to increase your conversion rate.

    Source

    Search first

    Check out the Documentation! We are always looking for new content and pull requests.

    Click on insightful, awesome, and funny reactions to thank community volunteers for their valuable posts.

    vrijvlinder
  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP
    edited September 2013

    Conversion rates on donations are terrible.

    What does that say about human beings ? That we are selfish users who don't want to pay for anything ? Sad indeed.

    I don't think people understand the implications. It is understandable why people try hard to protect their content/work from being ripped off just because people don't want to pay $5 dollars.

    A theme can take over 100 hours of work from the creation to the testing and beyond.
    I realize the same can go for any other development . How hard is it to come up with $5 dollars ?

    4COL

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff
    edited September 2013

    @vrijvlinder said:
    What does that say about human beings ?

    That they often correlate cost with value.

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    @Lincoln said:
    That they often correlate cost with value.

    Do you mean they will pay based on how much they need it ? if so I agree and it makes sense. So long as they are willing to pay something for what they value.

    or That they don't value it enough to want to pay something ? In that case they should not be asking to hire a dev , they should be asking how to become one ....or simply state they do not have any money and need someone to donate their time to them..

    by the way the quotes thingy is not working :( only the name gets quoted

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @Lincoln said:
    That they often correlate cost with value.

    +1, I wanted to write the same.

    @vrijvlinder said:
    Do you mean they will pay based on how much they need it?

    Not exactly, they will pay depending on how much they think something is worth, no matter how much they really need it. It sounds paradoxical, doesn't it? One of the issues is that software is not tangible and it's often perceived as "non existing", thus of no value. A lot of people prefer to waste $30 on a beer in a top class bar, rather than investing $5 in some software that would greatly help them, because "they can always copy the software without paying". On the other hand, you cannot copy a beer, a car, or the latest iPhone, thus, if you want it, you must buy it. Or steal it, but then you risk trouble with the law.

    In my opinion, there is also the issue that a forum software doesn't automatically mean "business". Products dealing with accounting, ecommerce, ERP, CRM, customer service and so on are clearly business software, which can contribute to run one's company and, therefore, increase the revenue and decrease the amount of work. They are perceived as "tools of the trade" of critical importance, thus people are less likely to go cheap on them. A forum can be an important tool, but it's not necessarily one. For example, there are thousands of communities out there, about anything you can think about, and many are owned by young teenagers and hobbyists of sort, who don't really think or see any economical value in them. These communities are not "serious business", just a pastime, and they are treated as such.

    I think that most of the Users who could afford current market rates for developers go for the hosted solution, as it saves them a lot of time, headaches and also money. To make a comparison, one year of the Advanced plan for hosted Vanilla costs approximately 50% of one week of work, at local market rates. I think that, in such case, the choice is quite obvious.

    Linc
  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff
    edited September 2013

    Something that costs $1 is infinitely more valuable than something that's free. People usually do not donate to free software because they do not see it as having value. The exception to this rule is other developers who understand the time and skill involved.

    And yes, the Advanced plan is a bloody steal. I run 2 medium forums and pay the equivalent of 2 Advanced plans just in high-quality hosting.

  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator

    I think that's not what the opening discussion was about but if you are now speaking also about what is coming back from Vanilla users, I'd like to tell you my point of view.

    You can call me naive, but I'm not convinced that people don't value what especially you guys are doing here. In fact I'm convinced that there would be more cash flow, if there was a simple and - even more important - immediate way to donate.

    I often download plugins as a reference or kind of tutorial and I would happily donate but I'm just too lazy. I know that some plugins have a donate button somewhere or there might be some instructions in the readmes, but I only know because I've read about it here in the forum, not because I have seen it somewhere. Who reads the readmes anyway?

    Some users here give such a skillful and always proffessional input that I'm deeply impressed and if there would be a simple and immediate way to transform my amazement into money, some, if not most of you in this discussion + 2 or 3 other users, would have already received money from me. Probably not more than one or two Happy Meals worth, but if we are talking about paying money for something you say you give away for free, that's not bad. And I cannot image that I am the only one here who's simply unreflecting but would donate if someone gives him a hint and an opportunity at the right time.

    I have never paid a penny to anybody with paypal and the like by entering someone elses account information manually and I never want to have to do that. Sorry, I'm lazy and pampered and only want t o press buttons. So show me a [Donate a Dollar] button and I would gladly hit it at least once a week like Pawlows dog.

    @Lincoln: if you extend your reactions plugin with a $ = donate reaction you'd give us the opportunity to show our thankfulness with money and if the plugin directory would have such a donate button, too, users wouldn't have to read readmes in order to donate. That would help the developers and therefore the Vanilla community here, I think.

    (btw: I've recently learned about flattr.com and I've fallen in love with that idea immediately, but I think it has to few users. If I would see their button here, I'd become a member at once)

    hgtonight
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