Hiring a developer? Yes, there are many to be found and at times you may wonder if you’ll ever win the competition for their skills, but not all of them have the traits that make for a good employee and teammate. What you see on a resume is only a part of what you’ll need from them. Many skills that good developers possess are innate, and unless you ask the right questions that reveal their soft skills and their personality, you might be glossing over a gem.


Rare is the developer who is asked to work all alone on a project. What makes a great developer may not always relate directly to development itself, but more to building trust and rapport with the team and facilitating solid communication within that team.


A hacker mindset doesn’t mean spending weekends breaking into secure servers. Instead, it’s the drive to understand the inner workings of how things function and to upend assumptions. Hackers experiment and even break things, because sometimes screwing up can be the best way to find the solution you’d never have thought up by doing things the standard way.


Great developers take pride in their work and thus they are sticklers for quality and performance. In some cases, they’re their own quality assurance engineer and aim to break their code before users do it. They can design a program to greatly reduce the debugging time.


The tech industry rarely stands still, and designers and developers risk falling behind unless they’re lifelong learners who make an effort to stay up-to-date.


Great developers have a strong sense of curiosity and will stop at nothing to find out “why” something works or doesn’t work. They spend a lot of time reading about programming as well just to keep up with all the technologies or learn about new things, but they don’t jump on any bandwagons because they are more interested in figuring out things themselves. They are so passionate about coding, they usually program during their spare time as well, either on side projects or simply trying out new technologies, tools, and languages.


Sharing knowledge freely with other designers and developers is key to advancing the industry itself. This contributor mentality has been around since the early days of web standards crystallizing in the design world.


A great web or mobile developer isn’t just another contractor you hire to get some work done. Ideally, they become your partner. They bring skills and tools to the table that breathe life into your idea and turn your grand vision into a distinct reality. If your gut says you don’t trust them, you’re never going to feel comfortable working with them.

Without trust, chances are you and your developer will never be on the same page with anything. In the back of your mind, you’ll always be second guessing the developer’s decisions and motivations. Moving forward will become increasingly difficult as the process slows down because of the lack of trust in the partnership.


While the best developers are fluent in the programming languages they specialize in and top designers are experts on best practices inside and out for both user interface design and user experience design, both also understand the other elements that get a project off the ground.

Developers understand UI and UX design, even if actually creating a design might be outside their wheelhouse. The best designers understand how programming languages work, even if actually writing the code isn’t something they’re comfortable with.


The creative mindset touches everything they do, even after they head out for the day.

When they’re off the clock, industry leaders are often creating and contributing to side projects that let them further build their skills and practice their craft—even if the projects don’t seem directly related to their day jobs.


Given our increasing reliance on email as a primary form of communication, it’s easy to misinterpret what somebody is saying or how they are feeling. If your developer isn’t very good at communicating in this way, you’re likely to lose track of what’s going on with the project.

A developer who is also an excellent communicator will ensure you always have a clear overall view of the project. They’ll explain everything in layman’s terms and not drown you in confusing technical jargon. It’s part of the developer’s job to make you feel more comfortable overall about your project.


At minimum, a developer or designer will create a website or app according to the specs given to them. For some, a project that meets specs is a job well done. But true success means going way beyond the specs and seeing your work through the eyes of the user.


Someone who has a deep passion for their work is often palpably excited and positive about that work. This excitement spills over into their interactions with you.

What a web developer needs more than anything is a passion to continually learn as the field evolves and a willingness to get (and stay) out of their comfort zone so they can learn and grow. And if you’re looking for an environment to do this in, may we suggest you get in touch?

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.
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