The second article in our series on finding freelancers and volunteers gives some best practice advice to charities trying to hire web developers
As a charity, your website has a big job to do. It can be your core communication channel, merchandising platform, fundraising tool, and a vital source of information and support.
You need to get it right. And to do that you need the right people.
If you haven’t got the in-house expertise, hiring a freelancer can be the way forward. And while there are pros and cons to hiring freelancers, the biggest pro is being able to buy in expertise that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford (or need) full-time.
The first thing to note is that a web developer is different from a web designer. A web designer focuses on the visuals of the website (branding, logos, style, etc.). While a web developer puts together the nuts and bolts of the site. It’s a much more technical role.
As an example, if your branding needs updating on the site, you’ll need a web designer. If you need to improve your mobile site, you’ll need a web developer. And if you’re starting a website from scratch, you’ll need both web developer and a web designer.
There are three main types of developers:
Below we look at some advice to help you choose the right freelancer.
Be specific about what needs to be done. And that might not only be creating a new website from scratch. You might need a web developer to fix a glitch on a payment page, make your existing website mobile responsive, or build a new fundraising tool.
Decide exactly what the scope of the project is and what are your absolute deadlines for delivery. Being definite right from the start will help you find the right person who can deliver on time. It will also help to prevent the project parameters slipping – having unclear boundaries isn’t helpful to either party.
Working from your scoping document, you’ll have a clear idea of the technical skills they’ll need. But also consider other attributes. Is knowledge of similar charities a plus for the project? Or would it be beneficial to have someone with a commercial angle? Is it a really tight turnaround? In which case you’ll need someone with experience of competently jumping in at the deep end.
Here are some common methods for finding freelancers:
You can only learn so much from a folio, so short-list two or three freelancers you’re interested in working with and ask them lots of questions. Examples could be: What similar experience do you have? How will you communicate throughout the project? What will you need from us as the client?
Having a good conversation with them will not only give you a more solid idea of their experience, but also of how they will be to work with. For more substantial projects, you could also ask for references.
Your clear brief will also make it easier for freelancers to accurately quote for the job. The right person might not always be with the least expensive – especially when it comes to technical knowledge. Factor in how much experience the task in hand needs.
Sometimes it’s worth paying more for a more experienced developer – for a better end product as well as a smoother process.
Agree the timeframe, price and exactly what needs to be delivered in a contract. Freelancers charge either by the hour/day or per project. Generally smaller jobs will be by the hour or day, while larger jobs will be per project.
If you have a tight budget and the person you want to work with has quoted above it, it’s always worth having a conversation around what can be delivered for the money you are able to pay. Maybe the scope of the job can be slightly shifted. Maybe they’ll offer reduced rates for charities. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.
Always pay your freelancers on time. Not only is it the right thing to do, it helps to build your reputation as a good charity to work with and will help you keep great freelancers on side that you can call on again and again.