PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor is one of the oldest and most widespread programming languages that are still in use today, with a legacy dating back 25 years to 1994. It’s used to power a huge range of web software, including the world’s most popular content management system, WordPress.
In fact, according to research by W3Techs.com, PHP is used to power 83.2% of the websites on the internet, including such popular sites as Facebook and Wikipedia. Part of that is because it has a proven track record and a long history of successful implementation. Developers know what they’re getting when they work with PHP.
That’s because there’s a whole community around the language, with many developers choosing to create open source projects that they then release to the general public. WordPress is a fantastic example of this, with the core foundation creating the official WordPress software and handling updates while an entire community of programmers and designers develop third-party themes and plugins.
When it comes to working with PHP, you have two main choices: you can either put in the time and the dedication that it takes to learn the language or you can hire a developer to do the work for you. But be warned: not all developers are equal.
What is a PHP developer?
A PHP developer is a computer programmer with specific expertise when it comes to working with the PHP programming language. Key skills for PHP developers tend to vary. They’ll typically have at least some experience with database admin and front-end design, but the bulk of their work comes from developing the software itself and specifying how the site interacts with the database.
Every developer has to start out somewhere, and it’s the experience that really makes the difference. In the same way that you wouldn’t contract a builder’s apprentice to build a whole house, it’s a bad idea to hire a junior developer to build your website. Sure, their rates might be cheaper, but there’s every chance that you’ll end up having to hire someone to fix the mess.
As a general rule, developers have one of three experience levels: they’re either junior developers, middle developers or senior developers. The more senior the developers are, the more experience they have with troubleshooting and working with different frameworks. If you’re interested in knowing more about some of the different frameworks and when you might want to use them, check out our comparison post of the three most popular frameworks.
When you’re trying to find a developer to work with, don’t make the mistake of simply Googling “hire PHP developer” and going with whoever shows up at the top. We’ve already established that not all developers are equal, and so it will fall to you to prepare a detailed brief that outlines exactly what you want and then to ask questions to get a feel whether the potential developer has the expertise that you need.
A dedicated PHP developer or a dedicated team?
When it comes to trying to find PHP developers, you’ll usually find a range of options. One option is to hire your own full-time developer, in which case you’ll need to be able to pay a PHP developer salary for as long as they remain employed with you, regardless of whether you have any work for them or not.
An alternative to this is to tap into the gig economy by hiring freelancers or working with a specialist agency. In these instances, you typically either pay per hour or agree on a fixed cost for the project in advance, which makes it easier for you to keep an eye on your spending and to avoid any unpleasant headaches.
Building your own team can make a lot of sense if you know that you have plenty of work in the pipeline. At the same time, though, it also comes with its challenges, which is why it’s often a good idea to work with freelancers first to dip your toe in the water before you take the leap and start building a team of your own. Either way, though, your first challenge will be to find those developers.
How to hire a dedicated PHP developer?
Hiring a PHP developer is relatively easy these days thanks to the internet and the gig economy. In fact, you’re virtually spoiled for choice, and that’s a good thing. It means that you can shop around, take your pick and ultimately make sure that you’re getting the quality that you deserve.
On top of that, there are literally hundreds of different websites that are specifically designed to act as a go-between for developers and their clients. Here are just a few of the best:
1. Toptal: Toptal specializes in web and software development projects, which means that it’s a solid place to start your search when you’re looking specifically for developers. Note, that their rates are above average in the market.
2. Upwork: Upwork is more of a generalist platform, which makes it perfect for hiring writers and designers, as well as developers. It also offers time tracking tools, contract guarantees and more.
3. Developers for Hire: The clue is in the name here. They’ll ask you ten questions up front and then provide personalized recommendations based upon your answers.
4. Indeed: Indeed is more of a generalist job site, and it’s arguably better for hiring a full-time employee than it is for hiring a temporary worker. It’s still worth a go, though!
5. LinkedIn: As with Indeed, LinkedIn is geared more towards full-time roles than freelance gigs. The good news is that it’s a great place to make connections and to start a talent search.
When you’re using these sites, be sure to do a little homework on each of the people who make your shortlist. Google their names to see what comes up and spend some time checking their portfolio and reading reviews. Remember, if you’re paying people and trusting them to create websites and web-based applications, you need to be sure that they’re worthy of your trust.
How much does it cost to hire a PHP developer in 2019?
This question is a difficult one to answer because rates vary depending upon who you choose to work with. A freelancer’s rates are usually a pretty good indicator of their quality, with more expensive freelancers backing that up with more experience and more impressive portfolios.
Luckily for us, Codementor.io has crunched the numbers and shared a little data, and so we have a pretty good idea of what the going rate is. $41-60 is the most common rate, but not by much. $61-80 is both the average rate and the median rate, so expect to pay anywhere between $40 and $80 per hour.
As you can see from the chart above, there’s a drop-off after $101-120 per hour and then another growth again for $141-160. That’s because the very best in the field are able to charge almost as much as they want because they know that their clients will pay it. When it comes to development, you get what you pay for, and there are plenty of brands out there who are willing to pay extra for quality.
For most of us, though, there’s no need to break the bank by hiring superstar developers. Quality is important of course, but it’s not necessarily the be all and end all. When you’re working within a budget, you may need to either reduce the scope of your brief to keep costs down or to compromise on quality and hire a less experienced developer.
PHP website development is a relatively common skill in this day and age, and so it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for you to find someone who can help you. The biggest barrier to entry is creating a comprehensive brief in the first place, but the best PHP developers will know which questions to ask to tease the information out of you if needed.
Remember as well that if you go the freelancer route, you’re unlikely to be trapped with a single developer. That means that if you’re having communication problems or the developer is unable to deliver on what they promised, you can go ahead and hire another one. And the good news is that if you followed the advice that we shared in this article, you should be off to a good start. With a bit of luck, the first hire you make will be the right one and you’ll be able to focus on getting the job done.
Do you have a project we can assist you with?
Still need help developing your website? Here at Zfort Group, we start by getting to know you and your customers and walk you through the process to make your website the best it can possibly be. Better still, we have plenty of experience of working with PHP and we’ll be more than happy to help you to make your vision a reality. Need a little help taking your website to the next level? Be sure to get in touch with us. We look forward to hearing from you!