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Skills and Qualities of a Successful CMS Developer

Joe Genovese
August 19, 2020

Hiring the best software developers for your team is a very challenging aspect of any business. The right developers are hard to find, especially for content management system (CMS) development. If you ask ten of the top CTO’s in fortune 100 companies, they will certainly give you ten differing answers.  

Developers come in many types. There are the super-developers that have an extraordinary ability to speak to people at all levels from tech folks to upper management while not being too “geeky.” They have a strong portfolio and are generally able to help others on the team. This combination can be hard to come by.

Then there are the types of developers that excel at what they do but are unable to have conversations with non-technical stakeholders. We all know some of these types, put them in the closet and let them work! Then there are the developers that talk a good talk but deliver far less than they advertise.  

Knowing how to identify the proper skills, attitude, culture, work ethic and relevant experience is important when pinpointing the correct resources to hire.  If it were as easy as finding people that can simply code well, then the cheapest developer would be the best developer. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple, and if you’ve ever had management go down that road, you know where I’m coming from.

What InGen looks for in a CMS developer may surprise many people. Here’s what you should look for in a successful CMS developer

Skills

The first key is experience. Using their portfolio and library, we can see what sort of work they’ve done. 

  • How readable is their code?
  • How is it organized?
  • How much depth and complexity does it demonstrate?
  • Does it solve the problem or just make the task more complex?

Reviewing this reveals a lot about a developer’s skill and logic. Since the code will be the foundation for your CMS, you need to ensure that everything will work the way you need it to. When hiring developers, InGen looks for experience in:

Blurred computer with code

Languages for designers, SaSS and HTML

    • C#
    • JavaScript

Platforms

    • MVC
    • .NET Core
    • .NET
    • ASP

Front Ends

    • Angular
    • Vue.js
    • React JS
    • Bootstrap
    • CSS

Attitude

You’ve probably seen “self-starter” or “self-motivated” on more resumes or job postings than you can count, but they aren’t just buzzwords. This professional attitude is crucial for CMS developers. A great developer that doesn’t start or finish anything without direction is a problem. They should be able to rely on their skills and experience to move projects forward in a meaningful way without hand-holding. 

One sign that a CMS developer that isn’t self-motivated, is the number of unaccounted hour gaps. Timesheets with a lot of non-project or non-billable time tend to be overlooked until it’s too late. This may be hard to detect unless you ask the right questions in interviews. Check references and ask about productivity and self-motivation.  A good CMS developer prepares by looking at new projects and goes back to completed projects for review. 

The ability to work on more than one thing at a time is also imperative. I know developers that can switch gears and work on 5-6 different projects at once, this is a rare quality indeed, but possible. A single-threaded developer is not a developer, they’re a programmer. There are many of these types and should not be confused with a good developer.

Another good attitude is being able to complete a project then hand it off to the customer or user in an effective manner and without being emotionally attached to their accomplishment.   This means the CMS developer can hand-off and write instructions and answer layman questions from the users/customer until they understand it.

Culture

Having a great portfolio and coding experience with many platforms does not a good developer make! There are other factors when hiring a good developer, such as:

  • How will this person fit in with my existing team?  
  • How well will this person work with my customers?  
  • Can they be introduced early in a project or wait until the coding starts?  

Our perfect developer can be introduced before the project starts for some deep Q&A and impresses the customer with their business acumen and technical prowess. They nurture the conversation and dazzle with business wisdom, not just brute force analytical skills. Remember, an abrupt developer can turn the project into an “us versus them” exercise, which makes for a long project.

Additionally, having patience to work with other developers and project managers will help your team integration greatly. Developers tend to have a sometimes well-deserved ego (I am guilty of this too), but being able to see they are part of a bigger picture is extremely important. Most CMS development teams tend to be siloed or islands of technical expertise, which can hinder adaptability to the various situations that will arise during your projects.

Multiethnic group of young people sitting in conference room and brainstorming on business meeting

Work Ethic

A good work ethic is very important as a CMS developer, in fact, good work ethic is ALWAYS important. Let’s face it, work ethic is the hardest attribute to detect during the interview process. The only real way to determine the work ethic is to observe the candidate working over the course of several months. Though it’s good to check into past references and reputation. Ask references questions about the candidate’s work ethic and to cite examples.

As you observe your newly-hired developer, if they don’t exhibit a satisfactory work ethic or have poor work habits, you have the option to either attempt to repair these habits or simply admit a mistake and look for someone else. Fail fast, fail small.  

Personally, I am in the corner of nurturing the proper behavior you want by solid communication and coaching on a scheduled, documented plan.  A good CMS developer will respond well and admit they have room for improvements.

One of the biggest benefits of using InGen, is we have already done this with our development teams for you. We’ve found the right CMS developers and nurtured the best teams possible.  

Relevant Team Experience

It’s important to consider what sort of team experience the candidate has. A person might exhibit all the signs of solid experience, attitude, and skills, but if they’ve never worked on a team, there may be some issues integrating with your team environment.

Some areas will need to be coached and nurtured, but this road needs to be one that is attainable. Consider the types of projects too, if they are completely different from the type of work you will have them do, it could be an area of concern. However, some people can adapt and go from a single developer project load to larger development teams without missing a beat, so it is super important to get your interview questions lined up and review each response thoroughly.

If this all seems like a lot to find the right CMS developer for your organization, InGen has you covered. Request a consultation or get your free site assessment for actionable insights.

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