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EDIT- Edited as requested to be less of an open-ended question. That said I did receive some very useful advice. I contacted our local PHP meet up who passed me onto a local developer. Also, since countless hours on PPH, Upwork and the like, I discovered I needed to be much more focused in terms of my brief from a technical stand point.

Question edited as per below:

First a bit of background info - We have a project that's been dropping down our to do list for almost a year. It's an internal project, one I'm keen to get live. I'm personally coming to you from a content stand point, and without a website to work with, I myself am stuck. Our internal developers are currently far too busy with client work - in our daily standup, their sprints are always full week to week so I wouldn't want to take them off projects they're currently invested in.

This has therefore lead me to look for a freelancer that I can outsource this one project to. There would be a possibility for more work should this one go well, however the difficulty I am finding isn't getting hold of a developer keen to do one-off projects, but finding a quality developer.

As I am not a developer myself defining quality may be a little more difficult - but from the feedback I have received from our devs here, it's how clean the code is, the methods used to build the code, the documentation and the like. I now have a four-page PDF with our requirements which has been super useful. This is to ensure quality and to allow my own developers to jump into the code in future.

I've tried - People Per Hour, Upwork, Elance, Twitter, LinkedIn, Toptal and Codeable, all to no real avail.

PPH - Here I had the most 'bids' on my job, but most very cheap and the example sites didn't look good in terms of design nor code. I should mention I'm willing to pay for quality.

Upwork - Much better than PPH in terms of quality, but after speaking with some of the top-rated developers, as soon as I handed them our more technical requirements a lot said 'I use html and CSS, I don't touch SASS or Git or Laravel' etc, which doesn't fit with our methods here making it more difficult for us to make future edits and keep our quality high.

The other sites - I found either had too much spam or similar to PPH.

The best response I had was to contact our local PHP meet up and now I am in talks with a local developer who said all our technical requirements are as expected, no problem at all. So this is a positive lead.

So my questions

  • I now have a list of technical requirements from my own developers. As freelancers I understand this may not be something you would expect, but would you find it useful? Does it help bring clarity on the project?

  • With this project being a fair investment, there is a sense of trust between client and freelancer. How can that trust be strengthened? Once again does my list of requirements help if the freelancer can agree to these?

  • While I understand most freelance developers have their own ways of doing things, is there a way I can make it clear that I want my site built a certain way without putting anyone off? It's like asking for a baker to make a cake and giving them the ingredients.

  • More off topic - should developers be able to build from design concepts or is a pixel-perfect design always preferred? This is more of out of interest since I've had varying responses to preference. I've only supplied flat-PDFs so far before committing and some have said that's all they need, others have requested my PSDs.

  • And finally - is a freelancer even right for what I am looking for? Am I asking too much of one person? Should I be looking at going to an agency instead?

Any help as always greatly appreciated.

  • Do you wants to hire fixed term contractors? – SmallChess Feb 4 '17 at 15:56
  • I was looking to hire based on projects rather than term, either by fixed price or an hourly rate. – KeyBlue Feb 4 '17 at 16:05
  • Questions about Freelancing Website services for finding or working with clients are off topic. We are not the website's support channel, they have policies that dictate how they run, and they are typically better equipped to provide support. For more information, see the help center. – nyedidikeke Feb 4 '17 at 23:33
  • Well, you just did. But since there's no way to contact me here I'd say keep looking. Other than that I'm not sure what I'd answer your question with since the only thing that would come to mind is a list of web sites you could play with. – user6035379 Feb 5 '17 at 15:34
  • @nyedidikeke I'm unable to specifically find a quote marking asking about websites as off topic within the help center. Whilst there is a note about website specific questions about certain features, being off topic, the actual recommending of websites themselves seems on topic; and is certainly a popular question from freelancers. Though to the OP, I'd suggest looking on Startups SE, to get an answer from the perspective of people within a similar position, rather than asking freelancers in the opposite position. – lewis Feb 6 '17 at 12:08
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There are some platforms better than others. Upwork, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour have freelancers with a broad range of skills, but "good" is subjective.

In the past, and even recently, I've found great freelancers on the above platforms, but I have got much better at hiring - and that's the key. Hiring is a skill in itself, and is far beyond simply posting a job online.

If you can define your job well, interview well and perhaps do a paid trial then your chances of success are much higher, regardless of the platform.

If you're not technical but have access to some technical folk (you mentioned some devs you have contact with), then use their expertise to help analyse interview answers and paid trial tasks.

Sure you'll spend some money on finding the right person, but when you do you can expect to work with them for years to come.

Some 'premium' freelancer platforms also worth checking out are: Codeable.com for WordPress development and Toptal.com for a number of different skills.

Good luck, and I hope this helps.

  • Thank you for your answer, Doug. I do have developers here and they have now supplied me with a technical document outlining what they would expect. This is to help gauge quality and so they themselves can edit the work in future. – KeyBlue Feb 8 '17 at 19:01
  • That's ideal! Good luck with your search. – Doug Belchamber Feb 8 '17 at 21:46
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I'd say local freelancer will do you the best for your business and product, by local I don't mean country, I mean state/province. It may be harder to find but in the end you will be more secure in all aspects. Online Freelancers while there are some goods and would never do something bad to their customer, there is a risk chance of being scammed even on these websites.

Hope you find someone good and honest.

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Upwork - Much better than PPH in terms of quality, but after speaking with some of the top-rated developers, as soon as I handed them our more technical requirements a lot said 'I use html and CSS, I don't touch SASS or Git or Laravel'

I'd say just keep looking. Maybe you're focusing too much on people who advertise themselves as front-end web developers and need to find someone who mentions Laravel or PHP in their profile.

I now have a list of technical requirements from my own developers. As freelancers I understand this may not be something you would expect, but would you find it useful? Does it help bring clarity on the project?

YES. DEAR [DIETY] PLEASE. I hate every client that doesn't have technical requirements.

With this project being a fair investment, there is a sense of trust between client and freelancer. How can that trust be strengthened? Once again does my list of requirements help if the freelancer can agree to these?

A good initial way to build trust is by thoroughly reading the freelancer's profile before you contact them and mention specific parts of their profile that appeal to you. This shows the freelancer that you are paying attention to them as a person and not just spamming invites (ironically, the same advice is true in reverse for freelancers applying to projects). Discuss the project enough with them to be sure they fully understand what you want, but don't make them feel like they have to spend 20 unpaid hours in discussions and planning before you'll consider hiring them. YES, TECHNICAL DOCUMENTS HELP.

While I understand most freelance developers have their own ways of doing things, is there a way I can make it clear that I want my site built a certain way without putting anyone off?

You're trying to hire a professional, not a teenager with an attitude. Simply be clear about what you want and provide those sweet sweet design documents. Anyone who is "put off" isn't worth working with. (On the other hand, do not write 5 paragraphs about how hard-assed you are and how you won't put up with anyone's shit - clients like that are just scary).

More off topic - should developers be able to build from design concepts or is a pixel-perfect design always preferred?

That partly depends on the preferences of the developer, but a flexible developer should be able to do both. I usually find it easier to build off of a very precise design with detailed mockups, unless the mockups weren't well thought-out and would be unreasonably impractical to implement.

And finally - is a freelancer even right for what I am looking for? Am I asking too much of one person?

You're not asking too much of one person. There are definitely quality developers out there willing to work on big projects and follow precise directions. It sounds like you have enough resources to guide the freelancer and now it's just a matter of finding the right person.

Lastly, a tip - make sure you review the freelancer's work history. If they have a 5-star 100% positive rating but half of their projects have been cancelled with no feedback, be very suspicious.

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This seems to me as you are not sure what you want or you need a developer who is expert in multiple fields. Such are rarer than fairies. So you may reconsider what you need and try to find multiple persons. I am sure that 1 of them will work all the time, and other will be just a help.

In case, you want an expert for A, B and C in one person, I would look for the expert in the most complex thing. There are high chances that he knows "weaker" technologies.

For example, a PHP expert will probably know html, css,... while I cannot bet that HTML/CSS expert will know PHP.

Another thing is a price. Are you looking for a remote dev to save money or there is no such person locally? Working with someone locally is far easier.

If you want to save money and decided to go for the remote guy, they try to get a recommendation and interview those.

If you do not manage to find the guy, then try freelancing sites. From my experience, the most quality can be found on upwork which is huuuge and it may take a month to find the proper guy. Look at his previous jobs, what his clients are saying, if their feedback is 1 work like "nice" or "good work" or they really made some good feedback from their happiness. Look if the guy has longer projects in his portfolio. The more the better. Those with 1 or 2 projects are not really the top ones because they may have worked on easy tasks.

After you have narrowed down a few guys, send them all the apecs. I usually try to overload them with docs to see if they will read it (I do mention that this is a long-term work). If he does not take time to read it, he is not the right guy for me.

And lastly, take a video(!) interview and talk to the guy. Try to see how he works, if he replies with short sentences or is capable of discussion, ask him some "what do you think" question, etc.

As you can see, you also have to do your homework to find the right guy. They will not drop out of nowhere.

  • Forgot: Look if the guy has the technology you want advertised in his title. If the title says PHP only, and he says he can do Laravel - there are chances that he will learn laravel on your project. – Peter MV Mar 13 '17 at 10:05
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UPDATE:

Thank you everyone for your answers.

I contacted our local PHP meet up and simply emailed their contact form on their website. They put me in touch with a local developer.

Although a lot more expensive than we'd hoped, we took her on and she has done an outstanding job. We've given her a technical document, one pixel-perfect PSD for the content page and PDFs of the other pages along with style guides and she's done a brilliant job at pulling this all together.

This is the first time I've worked with purely a front-end developer and the results definitely show.

Thank you once again to everyone for all your tips and suggestions.

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