I do both 4x5 and 8x10 in trays, so I have some familiarity with the process.
My developing trays of choice are the dimple-bottom trays made by Cesco.
These dramatically simplify handling of the sheets, and minimize the contact of film with tray bottom.
Regarding the developer...
Make sure you use at least the minimum amount of concentrate required for the number of sheets being developed.
That's true of any developer and any developing method. This is one of the most common errors, yielding inconsistent results.
I use nitrile gloves for developing the sheets. Be sure to get the non-powdered ones.
Put sheets in the developer one at a time, flat, emulsion down*, then shuffle through the stack for the required time.
Remove sheets one at a time and put them in the stop bath without getting the glove in the stop.
Manipulation of the sheets in the stop and fix should be done using tongs, preferably with rubber tips.
You can use a stainless steel probe, like the end of a dial thermometer, to lift an edge if need be.
Use one set of tongs for the stop, and a different set for the fixer, and do not interchange them. Always use the same one for each solution.
Enjoy. Make pix.
There's a huge ongoing debate about emulsion-up or emulsion-down. Ansel Adams recommended down, and I've had no trouble doing that.