Although PHP is a little bit outdated in 2019 as there are better, quicker and less error dependent programming languages, PHP still remains one of the top programming languages for many new projects. In this article, we will cover:

The popularity of PHP comes down to three elements: the fact that you can do anything with PHP, the countless number of frameworks under PHP, and the fact that PHP is taught in most computer science university classes.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder there are so many people looking at the option of hiring a PHP developer.

In this article, we will cover the bases of PHP, things to consider when hiring a PHP developer, and the best places to find quality PHP developers.

PHP can run on anything and do almost anything

One reason why PHP remains one of the top choices for new projects is the fact that PHP can run on any default web server and it can be used in a variety of things — from fully developed software to server-side scripting.

A lot of popular applications run on PHP. The most famous one is WordPress. So if you are looking to make custom changes to your WordPress’s blog backend, you’ll be looking to hire a PHP developer for that.

The abundance of PHP frameworks

PHP lets you solve code problems and write code in many ways. T, this means that if needed, people can get something up and running extremely quickly by writing code that only they can understand. This is usually referred to as “spaghetti code” and is extremely common in PHP.

To avoid these issues, there are many PHP frameworks that provide a set structure of how the code should be written. Each framework has its own rules, structure, and community behind it. The most popular ones are Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, CakePHP although there are many more.

If no PHP framework is used, the language will be referred to as raw PHP, which will run into the issue of non-scalable code, as mentioned above. We will cover the details of this and what it means for you in hiring a PHP developer later in this article.

Huge supply of PHP developers

PHP is still taught in a lot of IT and web development classes in computer science degrees. There are also a countless number of PHP communities and forums, so it’s extremely easy for anyone to pick up the language.

Because of this, there are a lot of developers looking for PHP work, which is great news for clients and employers. PHP developers vary in skill and experience, which means you have more options when it comes to hiring for what you need.

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Cost of hiring a PHP developer

Below is a comparison of how PHP compares with other languages in terms of salaries.

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PHP developers are likely more affordable to hire because the language is more well-known, thus there are more developers available at a wider range of hourly rates. If you need a local developer or a remote developer in the same time zone, or if you are on a tight budget, the pool of talent available can likely accommodate most business needs.

It’s not unheard of to find a decent PHP developer for $10 per hour on freelance talent sites. A highly experienced PHP developer can cost as little as $20 per hour. Some agencies in Europe offer a dedicated full-time PHP developer for $1,500 per month. Or, you can get an absolute expert PHP developer for $100 per hour.

That’s the beauty of choosing PHP for your project — you have a lot of flexibility on everything, from the code to the project budget and you can usually scale this as the project grows.

How to hire a PHP developer

Once you’ve settled on PHP as the language for your project, there are a few extremely important things you will need to consider.

In the short term, following the instructions outlined here will help you filter through the 100s of developer applications. In the long term, the tips below will ensure you are able to make strategically important decisions with your tech stack, even without any technical expertise.

1. Familiarize yourself with PHP frameworks, raw PHP, and tech debt

As mentioned above, there are countless PHP frameworks available. The first thing you need to consider is the stage of your project: how valid your idea is and how soon do you need it developed.

If you wish to get something out within weeks, put it in the hands of your users and see what they say, you might consider going with raw PHP.

The benefit is that you will be able to find a lot of PHP developers who are able to not only take your project on right away but also do it extremely affordably and quickly. The disadvantage is in the fact that no one else is going to be able to understand the code or work with it.

Lack of readable code means two things:

  • You are stuck with the developer who wrote it
  • It will be extremely hard to scale the application

You will need to scrap the code completely and rewrite everything at some point due to the tech debt your application will encounter with framework-less PHP code.

It’s not always bad to have tech debt though, as you are able to quickly get something out, test your idea, and determine where to go next.

But if you dread the issues associated with PHP tech debt and wish to avoid them, or you have other reasons to want to make your code work for the long-term, you will almost certainly have to use a PHP framework.

Regardless of which way you go — raw PHP with tech debt or a proper PHP framework with nice code — it’s very important to be aware of the differences and what it means for your project.

One of the most common errors a non-technical person can make when hiring a PHP developer is to think that you are paying for the whole product and budgeting as such. In reality, you’re being sold non-scalable code that was made with raw PHP that no one else will be able to work with.

2. Decide on the framework you will go with

It’s extremely important to decide on a PHP framework you will go with before you start to look for a developer.

If you post a PHP job on a freelance marketplace or a job board without specifications, your inbox will be flooded with countless submissions, each in their own framework claiming it’s the best.

To decide on which PHP framework to go with you can do some research into hourly rates of developers, benefits of each framework, and how big the communities are to try and judge which PHP framework will suit your project best.

Also, consider hiring a PHP expert for a few hours, or an infrastructure architect who works in PHP frameworks, to give you a consultation and help you choose the best framework.

3. Be specific with your goals of hiring a PHP developer

Once you have settled on a PHP framework, try to come up with as specific of a job description as possible. Describe your exact goals with the project and think of some other functionality that will be important to you.

For instance, if you wish to send transactional emails to the users of your product from the beginning, you should specify that in the job description. The reason is that PHP frameworks work sort of like content management systems, where you’re able to have a lot of functions out of the box.

The more project specifications you can mention, the better, as the developers applying will be able to give you better estimates and know what code base they will need to use.

Apart from the functions, think about your product roadmap after your PHP developer delivers the project. Will there be more stuff to add or ongoing maintenance?

This will help you in the quest for hiring the best PHP developer for your project.

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Where to look for PHP developers

Once you know that you’re definitely going with a PHP developer, what you expect out of their work and what framework you will use, you can look for a PHP developer in the following places:

  • Freelance marketplaces: Hubstaff Talent, Upwork and other marketplaces are great options for hiring a freelance PHP developer. Hubstaff has two amazing guides to guide you if this is what you want to do: Freelance Websites Compared and How To Hire a Developer.
  • LaraJobs: This is the place to go to if you want to hire someone who knows Laravel, one of the most popular PHP frameworks. It’s a pricey option at $300-$350 to post a job.
  • CodeIgniter forum: One place to look for a CodeIgniter PHP developer is on the projects forums jobs section.
  • CakePHP on LinkedIn: The official CakePHP LinkedIn group is a good place to post a job posting if you need a CakePHP developer. It’s free to do so, and you can also browse the members and approach some of them privately.
  • Facebook groups and other community gathering places: For each PHP framework, there is a community of people that gathers somewhere on the internet. Look for the place where they do, and ask around for developer referrals. Be sure to check Facebook, Slack, Discord channels or IRC.
  • Agencies: Nearly all development outsourcing agencies in India or Europe will have PHP developers at hand. Because the costs of PHP developers are affordable for the work provided, your business might be able to have a full-time PHP developer working on your project while being managed by the agency.

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Hubstaff has an all-in-one solution for hiring a PHP developer

A great place to look for a PHP developer is on Hubstaff Talent. Search thousands of profiles for the experience and skill level you need.

Use Hubstaff Talent to find the PHP developer you need, then add them to Hubstaff time tracking to accurately monitor and manage your new PHP developer. Assign tasks, track hours, and send payments all within Hubstaff.

You can also use Hubstaff Tasks to organize sprints with your developer and discuss projects within the visual Kanban board.

Best of all, these tools are either free or highly affordable and can save your business precious time and money.