September 9, 2019
So you’ve listened to your members, discovered a pain point in their coworking member experience and have a great idea to address it using your Optix powered member app! There’s just one challenge. This new functionality needs to be developed. While larger coworking businesses may have a web developer or team of developers on staff, it’s likely too costly for many and even if you are working with a web designer, they may not have the necessary skill set.
You may be asking: What type of developer do I need? Where should I look? How do I evaluate my options and pick the best person for the job? Our step-by-step guide answers all these questions and more to help you get your project off the ground. Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Define your project requirements
Understanding your project requirements is the first step towards success. Before diving into development, make sure you outline exactly what you need. What are you trying to accomplish? What does your ideal end product look like? What are your specific requirements? Detail is your friend. The clearer you are on your vision, the less hassle you’ll face down the road. If you want to discuss your idea and see if it is feasible, we’re happy to set up a call to help get things rolling.
Step 2: Identify the technical skills you need
Not all developers are the same. Some specialize in front-end design (what the user sees), some focus on the back-end (how things work behind the scenes) and others do both. This is known as being a “full-stack developer”.
Step 3: Post the job
There are plenty of online marketplaces dedicated to connecting businesses with skilled freelancers. Some of the most reliable options include Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.com – we recommend starting with Upwork. This is where your detailed preparation will come in handy. As you post your job, it’s important to clearly define your project, including what you’re trying to achieve and the specific skills you need. Doing so will ensure you attract the right candidates for the role from the outset.
Step 4: Evaluate candidates carefully
Evaluating candidates is the most important step. As with any job search, you shouldn’t just give it to the first person who applies. It’s all about finding the right fit. There are a number of ways to narrow down candidates.
Most marketplaces allow clients to review their freelancers. This is a great place to start. If others are happy with your candidate’s services, there’s a good chance they’ll deliver the same quality for you. If they don’t have testimonials, don’t be afraid to ask for references. A good developer will have these ready.
You should also ask applicants to provide a quote on your project. This is important not just for the purposes of comparing costs, but also for comparing the estimate of labour hours required to complete your project. If all the quotes are similar, it’s a good indicator that the project has been well defined and that the estimates provided are reliable. However, if they vary greatly either in terms of total cost or hours required, consider asking some probing questions to understand why they differ. If you suspect the freelancer has not budgeted enough hours, it is a good idea to discuss a cap on the project cost. This will protect you from cost overruns while at the same time holding your potential partner accountable to their estimates.
After reviewing the proposals, it will be time to interview your short-list. Having these touch points will help you get a feel for the candidates and what it’s like to work with them. A handy tip here is to use one candidate’s answers to inform the questions you ask others. Comparing responses will help you validate what each developer is telling you. This is particularly useful if you don’t have strong technical expertise yourself.
Depending on the scope of the project, having the freelancer complete a test assignment for free (or a small fee) may be a good option. Working together on a smaller ‘proof of concept’ project is a good way to ensure it’s a good fit before diving into a larger initiative and making a more substantial financial investment.
Following these steps will help you find a developer, but there are also two things you can do to mitigate any risk. The first is to ensure the person you’re talking to is the one doing the project. Sometimes, especially with agencies, projects get delegated. In such a situation, you should be evaluating the person who your project will be delegated to. The second is to get an understanding of your developer’s workload to ensure they have time to work with you. The last thing you want is to discover that your project has been deprioritized down the line.
Tap into your coworking community
Freelance marketplaces are great for connecting with affordable professionals around the world. But if you have the budget, working with someone local has strong benefits too. They’ll be in your time zone, speak your language fluently and be accessible in person.
You likely have developers working out of your coworking space already. You could offer them discounted work space in exchange for support on your project. Even if they can’t do the project themselves, they could support with developing the job post and evaluating candidates, and they may even know someone themselves. This is a great way to find a developer whilst supporting the members of your coworking community.
Finding a developer can seem intimidating. By following this step-by-step guide for sourcing and evaluating candidates and working collaboratively with the Optix team, you can ensure you pinpoint the right developer to help take your great idea from vision to reality.