This is an ongoing issue in this still infant industry.
It took nearly 100 years for an international standard to be developed and agreed upon for something as “simple” as screw threadings… and more than 100 years for an international body to be formed to oversee such things. (Source, wikipedia )
Although the internet, and technology in general, have accelerated the pace at which things happen these days, it’s important to keep in mind that the internet, in it’s world wide usage as it is today, is really only 20 years old…
So we have a long way to go.
That said, there are significant standards when it comes to how code is written… where the standards fall apart is in design, implementation and execution.
Every designer and developer has their own “way”… and although they may use the same tools, I’ll guarantee not one of them uses them the exact same way as any other.
It’s important to keep this in mind when shopping for help… Using your intuition and finding someone to work with you gets YOU and YOUR vision is one approach. Having a solid idea of what you want as an outcome, but being open to HOW you get there is perhaps a better approach.
Because there is such a vast spectrum of HOWs for achieving digital outcomes, I think it’s valuable to not be attached to certain parts of your puzzle. You are theoretically hiring people who know what they are doing… and in a perfect world, they know more than you do about what they are doing 🙂 So leave them to it. And don’t assume that just because they don’t do it the way YOU would do it that it means they don’t know what they are doing.
A freelancer should be able to demonstrate the WHY of the HOW they have recommended or chosen. It’s definitely worth your while to ask for those kinds of rationales… firstly because it will help you understand your website or design project better, but secondly because it will broaden your scope going forward and you’ll be able to ask better questions and refine your project proposals (and sales pitches) for better results.
Here is some great reference reading about standards on the web:
InternetSociety.org – academic details
W3C – existing standards
The Web Standards Project – activism on the topic