What makes a good freelance web developer?

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Now you’ve understood the key differences between web design and web development, it’s time to explore how you can excel in the UK’s tech sector if you freelanced in the latter – web development, writes Mitesh Parmer, senior principal consultant at Computer Futures

Generally speaking, freelance web developers will need to be able to utilise tech stacks to build and deliver websites.  

What are the responsibilities or requirements of a freelance web developer?  

The responsibilities of web developers who work on a freelance or contract basis obviously can vary, depending on experience and client requirements. 

However, from a development perspective, an understanding (at the very least) of UI and UX design is fundamental, as you’ll likely be working with the web design team to develop and code the frontend.  

Responsibilities for a freelance web developer would similarly be aligned to the end-client’s strategic tech and business goals.  

Language, frameworks and specialisms 

But as a guide, the three most common languages we see requirements for (at the time of writing) are HTML, JavaScript and CSS. 

Web development frameworks such as Angular, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Laravel, and others can serve as good starting points for web developers.  

From a design perspective, the ability to specialise in UX/UI is essential. A freelance web developer should be able to guide or support the end-to-end designs for products, enhance UX, and offer innovative solutions to complicated issues. Maintaining design systems and creating design documents for each feature or function are also crucial.  

While some businesses might recruit to initiate a project from a design and development perspective, most hire in stages. Projects or programmes typically commence due to changes or upgrades in software development.  

When else do freelancers web developers get hired? 

The circumstances when end-clients take on web developer skills on a freelance basis depend on specific projects and programmes, and the staffing needs of the organisations running those projects and programmes.  

But remember in the technology sector, contractors, freelancers and other temporary consultants are typically hired to work within a set timeline, to deliverables. That usually indicates an urgent need of the end-client or an approved set budget in place.  

Of course, the project might not be put out to external workers at all! That decision -- to handle it internally or outsource to freelance contractors, typically depends on the size of the business and the availability of in-house resources and skills. 

What about small businesses, large business and project delivery? 

As a rule of thumb, larger businesses tend to bring in the greatest number of contractors -- for specific projects or to fill skill gaps, while smaller businesses often hire contract support to meet project goals due to limited capacity or capability.  

In general, the delivery of design and development follows phases. It starts with a design brief, and concurrently, there is a brief for the development aspect. Though these are separate roles, they are interdependent and invariably need to collaborate to achieve the common objective.  

Which soft skills are best as freelance web developer? 

Most businesses and hiring managers are looking for web development candidates who are of a high standard technically, but who also have good communication skills.  

Being fluent and clear in your communication is vital because as a freelance web developer, you’ll be expected to communicate effectively with both internal and external stakeholders. Within this, a real feather in your cap will be the ability to deliver effective and coherent messages to non-technical people. 

How much pay as web developer/designer? 

Like many technology and computer specialisms on a freelance basis, daily pay rates are dependent on skills and experience. 

But based on current market rates, a freelance web developer would command -- dependent on their technology nous -- between £350 and £600 a day. By comparison, a web designer would command between £400 and £600 a day. And if you went full-time? Well, at the time of wring, permanent salaries in London for web developer and web designers come in at an annual average of £52,000 and £65,000, respectively.    

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