Best way to find talented web designers/developers

In a previous blog, Nerveman asks about the best way to find strong developers and designers, presumably as part of your firm or as contract talent.

There are three ways I’ve tried, and the third works best for me:

1. Word of mouth. I ask people I know for referrals. This actually works less well than I had hoped, because colleagues have different needs, standards, and project types than I do.

2. Trial and error in sequential order. In this approach, I look at lots of potential designers and portfolios, go through lengthy interview process, and hire one for a job. If the person works, I keep working with them. I don’t like this approach for coders because if I pick the wrong person for a big job, I am in a tight spot. However, it has worked well for designers, since I can see from their portfolio if they have done similar work, their style, etc.

3. Trial and error in parallel order. In this approach, I create a small job and hire 3 to 5 people to do it. Whoever does best in terms of professionalism and quality gets the big job. This has been a foolproof way to find good people. It works especially well for coders working under a project manager.

What else?