Thomas Edison once said that “genius” is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In the world of technology startups, that 99% involves a heck of a lot of coding and wireframing. If you’ve got an idea for a startup, that’s great — but odds are that an idea is all you have. (Well, maybe you have passion and some savings, too.) But you’ll need more than that to bring your idea to life — you’ll need a developer who can transform your vision into an elegant app or website.

If you’re just foraying into the land of entrepreneurship, you may wonder where the to even start looking for such a person. And even if you do find a developer, how will you know the extent of his talent and whether he’s a good fit for you?

From trolling your network to attending meetups, there are myriad ways to meet skilled developers. When you find one you like, you should have an informal meeting — you’ll be spending a lot of time with the person, so it’s good to get to know him on a more personal level. Plus, you can determine whether he’s equally excited about your vision. If you’re not jibing, let him go — there are other dev fish in the sea, and it’s not worth it to force the partnership. When you find a personality match, move into the formal interview. If all goes well there, you can confidently extend an offer.

Throughout the search, there’s plenty of room for missteps, and you might not know the right questions to ask. But there are some pro tips you can employ to make the dev hunt more efficient and successful. The folks at General Assembly have created this easy-to-follow flow chart as part of the curriculum for its “Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship” program. If you’re serious about your startup idea, this chart can help you navigate your dev search and find someone who’ll turn your napkin sketches into a reality. And if you have any personal experience hiring a dev, tell us about it in the comments below.

 




 

 

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, nullplus, Infographic courtesy of General Assembly

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About 75 developers from across the United States (and at least one from Canada) accepted New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne’s invitation to spend 36 hours of last weekend envisioning a better nyc.gov.

The city’s first ever hackathon offered little incentive: There were no cash prizes, no iPad giveaways, and the city has not committed to using any of the designs to replace the website it launched in 1996 and last redesigned more than five years ago. Five of 14 teams whose designs were chosen by judges for various honors will be thanked personally by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in meetings this week.

“Really the goal was to bridge the worlds of government and technology and having a dialog,” Sterne says. “This really showed what people want.”

So what do people want? Most of the winning designs’ homepages focus on search, mirroring Bing and Google. Sterne saw: StackOverflow-like forums that encourage users to help each other, as well as gamification, location and social elements. In other words, these are the trends you’d expect from coders working with APIs from Google, Bit.ly, Foursquare and other popular web services.

New York City also introduced two new APIs at the event: one that works with 311 and another that constantly updates apps that use the city’s more than 400 open data sets with the latest changes.

Here are the five winning designs. What changes would you like to see on your city’s government website?

Best Use of Social: @NYC

Most Innovative: Ask NYC.gov

Best Use of Local: nyc.gov Redesign

A location feature pulls in data based on the user’s zipcode.

Best Use of Location: nyc.gov Local Filtering

A feature pulls in data based on the user’s zipcode.

Best User Interface: Team Apple Seed

For comparison, here is a photo of NYC’s current website:

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