Contracting with a PHP Programmer

Once you decide you want to take your project from an idea to the next phase – finding a programmer to bring your project to fruition, there is a number of things to consider.  There is a lot to work out when contracting with a PHP programmer.  I hope the following information will help in the success of your project.

Selecting the Right PHP Programmer

This is probably the most critical phase.  Finding the correct person or agency to take on your project is very difficult.  This starts with a search.  Most people start with the search engines when looking for a programmer.  But how do you know who is the right programmer for your project?

Several things I consider when choosing a programmer.  Some of this is a little technical.

I like to dig into their skills, communication, background, and experience.

One thing I will tell you right up front is someone not charging market rate concerns me.  You probably are asking why that is so important.  Let me explain.  Here is an example.  Recently I was part of a project and the project owner decided to bring in a person charging $45 an hour.  Sounds great.  I immediately was of the opinion that this guy was not going to last because he could make more by taking on a job.  Well, within a couple weeks he took on a job.  A skilled programmer will have many options.  Usually those W2 jobs come with great benefits and pay.  Especially in this full economy.  Today a freelance PHP programmer must charge in excess of $100 an hour to provide Himself or herself with the same level of benefits and pay.  That may seem like a lot, however it is not.  Please keep in mind that you are renting this programmer for a short period of time.  Compensation is important, however it does not provide you with enough information by itself.

How long has this person been doing contract work?  How long have they been a PHP Programmer?  What about all the other skills they need to have?  Do they have them?  There is a lot more to being a PHP Programmer than the PHP Programming language alone.  One must understand how to work with the MySql data engine, they must know HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, and and JavaScript AJAX.  The last part is front end or display knowledge which they do not need to be an expert, however they need some skills to implement when the theme designer has implemented.  Add to this they need some Linux administrator skills and experience.

Education can be an indicator as well. Has this prospective freelancer taken any classes on programming for the Internet?  I find the junior college offer the best classes.  There is also what is referred to as boot camps.  These boot camps immerse their students into all the necessary technology so the student is given a crash course in web programming in just a few month, usually 3 or 4 months.  Now let me muddy the waters.  While education can help identify if the prospective consultant has the necessary skills, this by it self is not the only thing to look at.  And do not forget the self-taught programmer.  There are some very talented self-taught developers out there.

Some of the other indicators are

  1. Have they formed a business?
  2. Do they have a website dedicated to their business?  Not just a personal blog.
  3. Do they have a business phone?
  4. Do they keep regular hours.  Can you reach them when you need to?
  5. Communication skills.  This is huge.  Your programmer needs to have top notch communication skills.  Without excellent communication skills your project may not make it.

Selecting the Right Tools for Your Project

Since you are on my website, I assume you are looking for a PHP programmer.  I assume you may know some or all of what is written in this article.  Let’s refresh.

In a nutshell I recommend a Virtual Private Server (VPS) running the latest verson of Ubuntu Linix, that is running PHP 7 and one of the current versions of MySql,  Apache 2 or Nginx is a must as well.  I recommend Plesk to manage all of this.

You will need some sort of development environment.  This can be a local server or a remote reserve.  You can use your development server for testing.  Never do development work on your production or live server.  Doing so can cause service disruptions, embracing incomplete updates, and create security issues.

And always use the latest HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, JavaScript, and and JavaScript AJAX, unless there is a reason not too.

Project Analysis and Design

Given most of these projects are very short is is usually difficult to find the time to do the analysis and design up front.  If you take the time to perform the analysis and design first you will reap many benefits.  More than likely your project will go smoother and you will get more bang for your buck.

Miles Stones and Payments

I like to break my projects into milestones with a payment for reaching a particular point.  Most independent developers will require some earnest money up front.  I have found that someone willing to put some money into the project upfront is serious.  Any serious minded person who brings a project to the table will be willing to make a small down payment.

The Agreement

Both parties in the project have differing ideas of the project and develop differing views as the project is being discussed.  Using a written agreement that outlines the project, such as times lines, goals, who is to deliver what, milestones and payments is a must to ensure both sides are in concert with one another. This can be something as simple as an email were both sides agree to the final terms.

In Conclusion

You must take your time in finding the right developer.  You should have the correct tools in place,  An Analysis and design will help you get the best bang for your buck.  And a formal agreement is must if you want to ensure both side are in agreement.

Good luck with your PHP / MySql project.

Keith Smith

Hi, I'm Keith Smith. I built my first website in 2000. A lot has changed since then. I've been a freelance PHP developer since 2006. If you would like to reach out to me visit my contact page click here to go to my contact page or feel free to call me directly at 480-748-9893. Look forward to hearing from you soon!!

Recent Posts