Hiring a site developer

When hiring a Drupal site developer it’s important to understand what you need and where you can find the service provider with that set of skills.
There are 3 sections to this document:

  1. Define the Scope of the Project
  2. Define the Budget for the Project
  3. Match The Desired Skill Level to the Task

If you’re having trouble doing these things, or are unable to, there are many professional project managers who can help. They can assist in (or even accomplish) every one of these steps. Most consulting companies have full time project managers on staff. For anything but the smallest of projects, their “overhead” will actually save you money and time. Look for “PMP” behind their names – that means they are certified “Project Management Professionals” with demonstrated education and experience.

Define the Scope of the Project

Before you try to hire someone, you may want to define what the project would entail. Most developers like to work from clear requirements to achieve well defined goals. Having vague requirements and shifting goalposts is very frustrating for you, the client, and for the developers.
Remember that different skill sets are required for different projects, as well as for different parts of the same project, depending on size.

  • Do you want installation and configuration?
  • Do you want a theme designed?
  • Do you want modifications to existing modules?
  • Do you want new modules written?

You may not have the answers to all the above, but it helps a lot if you have some idea of what you need.
Note: This does not mean that you should read the modules list and then create your own list of modules that sound good. Your requirements should be a list of functionality and features that you need on the site. Your site developer is an expert at determining the best mix of modules to meet that goal.

Note: When you plan the time and resources for your project don’t forget to include time and developer hours for a security review. In case of third party themes and modules that you use this can be done by the developers you’ve hired, but for in-house developed themes and modules you should try to get a third party developer to do this. Keep in mind that the contributed themes and modules on drupal.org are not reviewed in any way and you use them on your own risk.

Define the Budget for the Project

Having a budgetary figure will help bring the scope down to earth in many cases. For example, your wish list may need to be trimmed back if you do not have enough budget to implement all of it.
Once you do that, you can now break the project into tasks (e.g. installation, theme design, programming).

Match The Desired Skill Level to the Task

  • Hire a contributor to the Drupal community to ensure the sustainability of the project
  • Hire someone who can research your needs to see if the many contributed modules already do what you need
  • Hire a designer with CSS skills to customize an existing theme or create a new theme
  • Hire an experienced Drupal developer if you have a short project time line
  • Hire an experienced PHP developer who can learn and code to a well defined set of APIs if you have a large project and a multi-month deadline
  • Hire someone who understands your industry and the particular needs of your sites users
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