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Whether you’re looking to hire a web developer or you’re a web developer who’s looking to be hired, it’s important to understand what makes a great web developer.
Without question, an experienced developer should have the hard skills necessary to accomplish these nine tasks:
- Secure the domain and set up SSL.
- Set up secure hosting and storage.
- Optimize for SEO.
- Plan out scripts and languages.
- Integrate any external tools or API plugins needed.
- Create an error-handling strategy.
- Have a time-tested file-handling strategy.
- Generate and maintain an XML sitemap.
- Optimize your domain security settings.
Now, beyond these necessary hard skills, programmers should also bring some additional soft skills to the table.
After all, programmers are an integral part of your team—from marketing to sales and customer service. As much as many developers may prefer to, they don’t work in isolation. That’s why a few key soft skills go a long way.
While many skills and qualities are important in a web developer, we outline six requisite soft skills that we think are particularly important for brands to know about.
Table of Contents
1. The best web developers are creative.
Most people think of web developers as being left-brained and analytical.
And while web developers do need to have those kinds of skills and mental frameworks, they also need to be creative. After all, creativity drives innovation and progress for your brand.
Top web developers will be able to see your brand from a different perspective and come up with creative solutions to problems. Ideally, your developers are masters of troubleshooting. This may not sound like a particularly creative task but it takes a unique type of creativity to fix vexing or nagging issues plaguing your website or site performance.
Furthermore, while a creative developer is a value-add to any team, there should be clear branding guidelines for them to follow. Of the top things developers wish brands knew before hiring for these positions, this one is at the top of most programmers’ pre-hiring wishlists.
2. A team-oriented web developer is a good communicator.
Web developers need to be able to communicate effectively with clients and team members. This includes being able to explain technical concepts in layman’s terms and being able to understand your or your client’s requests.
Good communication skills are essential in any job, but they’re especially important in web development. Why? They are working in tandem with web designers and other key team members and stakeholders.
Truth be told, developers almost immediately level up your marketing team once they’re up to speed with your code. When a developer is able and willing to coordinate with marketing or sales teams, your brand can implement new strategies in less time. Your entire brand is able to shift into a higher gear, with bolder KPIs (key performance indicators), and the results follow.
3. A professional web developer is organized.
Web developers need to be organized in order to keep track of all the different parts of a project. They also need to stay organized when working on multiple projects at the same time. Or when fixing critical site issues, hosting problems, or bugs.
Most experienced developers will have a system for managing such tasks. That’s to be expected but it is also best to ask how they approach different problems and whether they have a system they use to stay on top of their varying job requirements.
Organized web developers work more efficiently and that helps prevents errors that can harm your brand.
4. A top-tier web developer is a proactive critical thinker.
To piggyback off of organization as a helpful soft skill, the top web developers are always thinking ahead and anticipating problems before they happen. This helps them avoid potential problems and find solutions quickly when problems do arise.
For instance, when a bug is found in production—or even worse, after software or a website goes live—the top developers have a roadmap of exactly how to identify and fix the issue. The best programmers have a plan, from bug identification to how they or your team can swiftly patch the problem.
Here is an example of the bug-fix workflow used at META:
Even more than creativity, the ability to think critically and proactively is an invaluable soft skill for developers. Being proactive shows that a programmer cares about their work and always looks for ways to improve processes.
In the end, developers quite literally keep your lights on—especially for any digitally-focused business, ecommerce brand, or digital agency. And today, this is most businesses!
Does that seem a bit melodramatic? Well, when things go haywire—you’re getting 404 errors or your payment portal is down or your servers are overloaded and offline, or malware is wreaking havoc on your existence—the first person you ping is your developer.
5. An elite web developer is always learning.
The field of web development is constantly changing, which means that the best developers are those who are always learning new things. They keep up with the latest trends and technologies so that they can apply them to their work.
There are dozens of programming languages, API integrations to consider, time-saving tools and workflow programs to be familiar with, and so much more. With any career, the process of learning should never cease.
In short, you want a developer who is always looking for ways to improve their skills so that they can provide the best possible service to you (and your clients).
6. The best web developers accept and learn from constructive feedback.
In most ways, this soft skill is an amalgamation of all the above.
Web developers have a specific and sought-after skillset. But that doesn’t mean they should have carte blanche to not follow instructions or refuse feedback from higher-ups. In some cases, developers may get frustrated with other teams that don’t the technical aspects of the project or for expecting far too much for one programmer to handle.
They should be firm and confident in their skills and strategies but also able to mold and weave those into project demands. While developers generally work on the same type of tasks and projects, there should be room for nuance, i.e., the ability to take on constructive feedback.
You need a developer who is willing to fit into your brand and your system.
If you’re a business, always look for the six soft skills we’ve discussed when hiring a web developer.
If you’re a developer that is strong on technical knowledge but not so much on the above, you’ll find adding these to your skillset may improve your overall performance. You may also find it makes it a whole lot easier to work with other, non-developer team members.
Of course, every brand is different and has different needs, so you’ll need to tailor your search for the perfect candidate accordingly. And developers, you may need to tailor your daily tasks or scope of work from one client or project to another.
But if you keep these six things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right person for the job—or being the right hire for any development position.
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