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Where are all the good Web developers?

Josh Althuser | Sept. 30, 2015
If you’re having trouble finding them, ask yourself: Am I a bad client, or am I looking in the wrong place?

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Credit: Raysonho, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

So you want to build something on the Web.

Maybe you’ve got a great app idea and you just need someone to build it for you. Maybe you’re in charge of expanding the existing platform for the company you work for. No matter what you are building, you will encounter the same question your first time around the block:

Where are all the good Web developers?

After working with various developers in different levels for over 12 years, I’ve learned that finding a great developer can be been hit or miss. Without some guidance or know-how, you will invariably end up with a bad one, since my experience has led me to believe that bad developers outnumber the truly great ones by a hundred to one. Over the course of 12 years, I’ve seen plenty of “developers” who boast their technical ability on paper only to fail a simple “Hello World” screening test.

During my time working for a software company where I was involved in hiring as well as working on projects with various developers at various levels, I encountered this issue time and time again. But as the situation recurred, I began to recognize ways around it. So, to save you from all the headaches I’ve experienced, here’s what I now know.

Don’t be fooled

Why is it so difficult to find a good developer? First of all, it’s 2015 — you and everyone else in the world want a nice Web application. Web development is a huge business. According to a Gartner report, large companies spend roughly $130 billion (with a “B”) on building websites alone. Because Web development is a technical discipline at its core, it’s easy for nontechnical types to get completely lost in the weeds. There is ample opportunity for scammers to fool unsuspecting clients into bad deals, and for mediocre coders to fool you (and themselves) into thinking they know what they are doing.

In addition to being trustworthy and able to code, the right developer must also be able to communicate well, understand your needs, explain options, adapt quickly to problems, and do all of it within budget and time constraints. These can be hard criteria to meet.

What are you doing wrong?

According to a study by the Computing Research Association, overall enrollment in computer science programs increased by 11.5% in the 2011-12 school year, marking the fourth year of increase. Those students should now be graduating, adding to the existing developer pool. So why are good Web developers so hard to find? There are two major reasons you are most likely to find yourself in this conundrum:

  • You’re probably a bad client.
  • You’re looking in the wrong place.


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