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Hiring a freelancer

how do you know you got the correct guy/gal?

10:01 pm on May 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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For the first time in my life I want to hire a programmer to develop a web site for me and need your advice on this. I can theoratically do it myself and imotionally its a very difficult decision for me to not do this myself :). However, in the interest of keeping my sanity and in the name of MicroEconomics-101, I have decided to hire someone else to do the job.

I have a detailed description of the business. Anyone with a good software designing experience can create a design doc from this description. I do not want to hire the cheapest firm but a good one.
1. How detailed description of the business should I provide when I am asking for initial bids? Should I just give a very brief description and see what responses I get?
2. The work is divided in three parts.
2.1 Graphic design (web site appearance, logos, etc)
2.2 Backend and middleware design (database and server side business logic implementation)
2.3 Testing
Above all, I want a functional website first and pretty later. So should I assign these three parts to three different parties?
3. I want to do the development in stages? Release some functionality now and remaining slowly. How do you incorporate it in a contract?
4. What are the things I should be including in the service contracts?
5. Whar are the payment schedule? x% after design, y% after site on programmer's host, remaining on hosting the site at the hosting service?
6. Am I missing something?
7. Any GOTCHAs?

I understand, almost all the questions are vague. But if you have made any decisions in your past on the above lines, I would really appreciate any feedback.

Thanks and Regards
1:22 am on May 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I do this every week. The proposal will tell all, it is a blueprint for your project. If it's a brochure about how great the provider is, or there are too many holes in the proposal, move on to the next one.

The proposal will cover every detail, front to back, and most importantly it will define scope so you know what you get for your money, as well as what envelopes you can't push without paying additional fees - and it will outline what we do when you need to change scope. If the proposal doesn't do all this, move on to the next one.

A good proposal will answer all the questions you have without you even asking the questions, and the provider won't have to say how good they are, the language and expression of the project's execution will demonstrate it. You'll know when you see it, but just like we have to wade through seas of poor clients, it's probable you'll have to wade through seas of poor provider proposals before you find the gold nugget.
3:20 am on May 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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7. Any gotchas?

yeah... plenty.

For one, make sure your contract stipulates a substantial % held until the project is complete, or signed off in stages. You can get burned if someone takes your project, works and works while collecting your money, but bails before it's complete. (this has happened to people I know) Don't spew out a stream of money at an hourly rate for promises and assurances. Hold back payment until you have what you are paying for.

But, don't make someone work for 3 months before being paid. Staged development with identifiable goals along the way works best for both you and for your hired help.

I like your tactic of building the whole project functionally before making it pretty. I take the same approach with my own projects, and it works great. The first prototypes are a functional "skeleton". You'll be pleased how many usability issues can be solved by perfecting the "flow" before rendering any images or CSS.

Good luck!
12:21 pm on May 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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rocknbill is right - these are very mature processes nowadays and the proposal will outline their understanding of what needs to be done and how best to do it.

Make sure the estimated effort for Scoping matches your perception of the project complexity otherwise the dev estimates will also be out.

Also make sure the detailed requirements that will come out of scoping have effort attached to each so any iteration / phase decisions are based on your budget and timescales

3-5days Scoping, 2-3 different UI in Photoshop, CMS Config,Ecom Config, Deployment on Staging server, UAT could be typical milestones for 10-15K project