When hiring a Developer how does a novice know when 1 is better then another?

Sometime in the very near future I am going to need to locate a developer for a site I want to put together, but when it comes to something like this how does a novice decide if one is more qualified then another ?

I have done a considerable amount of reading trying to become familiar with the different languages used and how certain aspects of what I would like to have on my site are implemented. I have gathered that there are a lot of people that will agree that Python is one of the cleaner languages to have something coded in, but the support for it just doesn’t compare to PHP yet. And from experience I realize that there are a lot of people that will tell you they have the ability to implement something, but that doesn’t mean they can do it well or that it will run effiecently…I have a listing on Elance for a 3D Animation that 18 people have bid on so far an say they can do and yet not a single one has product in their portfolio that corroborates that assertion.

When it comes to design a relative novice can tell a difference between one provider and another. When it comes to code …how does a novice know ?

Sometime in the very near future I am going to need to locate a developer for a site I want to put together, but when it comes to something like this how does a novice decide if one is more qualified then another ?

Experience…both on your behalf and theirs.

I have gathered that there are a lot of people that will agree that Python is one of the cleaner languages to have something coded in, but the support for it just doesn’t compare to PHP yet

Cleaner is subjective. You can write horrible code in Python, again it boils down to experience. PHP however, as you already know has a HUGE support system, plenty of developers and far more existing solutions. Second maybe only to Java or C/C++

And from experience I realize that there are a lot of people that will tell you they have the ability to implement something, but that doesn’t mean they can do it well or that it will run effiecently.

Honestly those eLance sites are so jam full of developers desperate to get a start you take a huge chance in hiring. Find someone on message boards who is clearly knowledgeable, has the respect of his/her peers and start from there.

When it comes to design a relative novice can tell a difference between one provider and another. When it comes to code …how does a novice know ?

There are many things you can look out for, but it takes experience to understand. Quality Assurance does exist in software it is just not very well understood.

Code metrics is perhaps the most obvious and easiest to comprehend. Unit tests are another measure. The tools the developer uses are often indicative of their experience level.

Do they use version control (SVN, Git). Do they use an IDE such as Eclipse or NetBeans or something more simple and primitive as NotePad++

Do they have experience with multiple RDBMS (MySQL, MSSQL, SQLite). Do they have a strong Linux background.

Will they provide a break down of the project as a Gantt chart and keep you informed with daily updates.

I would suggest hiring a contractor to manage the development for you.

Cheers,
Alex