Signs that You’re Working with a Bad Developer

Signs that You're Working with a Bad Developer
  • SumoMe
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I’ve worked with many developers for years now.   Signs that you have a bad developer don’t show right away, but if you wait too long, it might be too late.  I’ve had this problem a few months back with a developer who I thought was good, but turned out to be a bad experience.  Today, I put together a list of signs to look out for.  If you have any comments, feedback, or advice,  feel free to leave a comment below.

1.) No Contract

No Contract

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Before you have the developer start one line of code, please make them sign a contract first.   Don’t let them say:  No, I don’t really have a contract, but I will get it done.  That’s a sign that when shit hits the fan, they will be jumping ship and leave you to sink with the ship.  Contracts will protect you from a bad developer from the beginning.

Key Points:

  • On Day One, have the developer sign a contract.
  • If the developer has one, read it carefully before signing it.
  • Contracts help you when things go wrong.

2.) Says YES! to Everything


Post image Tickbox Yes image by BigStock

This one is clear that the developer is going to give you problems.  It’s great to hear YES! to everything, but let’s be realistic.   The developer should take the time to research and see if it can be done within the time frame.  It’s okay to say no sometimes.  I had this happen to me recently where the developer didn’t take the time to look over the project and said yes to everything.  It’s best if you do some research on your own before your meeting with the developer.  The more you know, the better.

Key Points:

  • A million yes’ turn out to a million no’s.
  • Research will help you know what can be done on time.

If you manage to get this step done right, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear just yet.  It saves you time if something goes wrong in the next steps.

3.) Bad Communication

Bad Communication

Post image Quiet – Bad Communication image by BigStock

This doesn’t just go for developers, it’s for everyone working on the project.  Whether it’s your own project or you’re overseeing one, communication is very important.  Some developers don’t keep good communication.  If you see this, fix it right away.  You don’t want to continue a project with bad communication.

Key Points:

  • Keep the communication open.
  • Touch base 3 to 4 times a week.
  • Try getting daily updates.

4.) Waits until the Last Minute to Get Started

Making a deadline for a developer is important to getting your project done on time.  I’ve made the mistake of giving a developer too much time and he procrastinated until the last minute to start coding.  The end result was pretty bad and needed to be redone.  It’s vital you check in daily or every two days to see if they’re doing their job.

Key Points:

  • Make deadline and don’t let it pass.
  • Only give time if needed and you feel the developer is working hard on it.
  • Daily updates on the project is always great.

5.) I Need More Time


Post image clock – Midnight Time image by BigStock

There is nothing wrong with needing more time.  Things can get tricky when it comes to developing, so they may need an extra day or two.  If two days have passed and things aren’t getting completed, it’s a definite sign that you’re working with a bad developer.

By this time if you’re not willing to hire a different developer, everything that happens after this will start to become a nightmare.

6.) Bad Coding

It’s only going to get worse when the developer is coding badly.  It will be hard for you to tell if the code isn’t good or not.  It’s best you let a different developer review the code.  I know code well enough to see if the developer is doing a good or bad job.


I really like this post by James Phillips (Signs You’re a Crappy Programmer)

Signs that your are a bad programmer –

There are good developers out there.  I actually work with one now.  I just feel the bad ones make it harder for the awesome to stand  ones out.  I’ve worked with a bad developer in the past and these were some of the signs I saw.  If I can leave you with some advice, don’t burn bridges because it’s hard to swim back.

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Creative Director
My name is Julio A Rivera, I'm a Creative Director/Web Designer from New York City and I'm the Founder of Underworld Magazines also I'm happy to share some of the web best resources and give you Inspiration. Follow me on Twitter @mydesign7
Creative Director
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  • Zap! Media

    Great article, great signs to look out for – wholeheartedly agree.


  • Alejandro

    Interesting article, but I must disagree with the first point.

    To some of us our word is as valuable as a signed contract. Not signing a contract does not necessarily makes a developer a bad one.

    If every single time, the absence of a contract turned into a bad experience, I would also review the process by which the developers are being selected.

    For the rest, I liked the article; it´s interesting too look at it from a programmers point of view and do an introspective analysis.


  • ben

    The #2 would be on top of my list. Although the rest of the points are as true as well. Most of these whack-job developers come from elance, o-desk, and job boards which sources most of their developers from third-world regions.


    Creative Director Reply:

    Thanks! I’m glad you find my signs useful.


  • Jonathan Patterson

    Another giveaway that you’re working with a bad dev is when they say they’re working hard but never have a single question. Either they’re not working or they’re making executive decisions—both are bad scenarios.


    Creative Director Reply:

    Awesome! add on


  • Spokane Web Design

    Communication seems to be one of the biggest problems in the web design industry. I have heard dozens of horror stories about web designers who don’t communicate during the process whether it be regarding project progress or within a specific project phase. I know at our Zipline we have been working very hard to build systems that help to make sure that our clients are kept in the loop through the entire process.


    Creative Director Reply:

    Yea I feel the same communication always gets lose. Maybe you can submit a post once you have your new system.


  • Virginia L. Wendt

    So true! So true! I have encounter this problem also with a bad developer. While I’m reading I just keep nodding my head because I totally agree.


    Creative Director Reply:

    I’m glad you find this useful =)


  • Ariel De La Rosa

    Certainly you have reason on many of those points.

    But I am afraid that most of those problems were related to a tight budget and an in-depth research for the cheapest provider. So there you have it, the cheapest results are coming out from there.


  • Roy

    Just a thought, I’ll say these are more like a bad employer or bad team. It doesn’t apply specifically to developers but pretty much everyone in the team.


  • Robustsigns

    #6 is my favorite. I learned the hard way that is always best to get another professionals opinion.