There are as many reasons to outsource web development as there are freelancers and agencies to consider. Each of these web development sources will have different personalities, philosophies, and pricing structures. Selecting the best option for your company can be challenging and feel overwhelming.
Unless you’ve received a referral from a trusted source, finding the developer for your project may be the most difficult aspect of your project.
Below, are 9 things to consider when choosing an outsourced web development solution that will give you the confidence to make the best choice for you and your company.
Understand important differences between a freelancer and web agency.
Choose the one most appropriate for the job. Let's take a look at a few of the differences:
- A freelancer is an individual developer, while an agency is typically a team of people.
- A freelancer may charge less but is limited in both time and experience. An agency may charge more but will have more resources and experience.
- Freelancers usually take work on a project by project basis. Agencies also take on projects, but can also serve as an extension of your marketing and IT team by providing ongoing collaboration and website maintenance.
- Some freelancers have limited availability because web development is their “side job”. You can be sure working on client websites is an agency's full-time job.
- A freelancer may not be able to take on a lot of work at one time. An agency should be able to ramp up or ramp down to meet your needs.
If you have a small project, no time constraints, and no future need for a developer, a freelancer may be a good choice. If you have a larger job or need a long term relationship, an agency is probably a safer bet.
Choose the best, not the closest.
While some companies insist that the agency is close by, their proximity should be the least important consideration. Since all work is digital, it can be shared from anywhere. Most companies will find being able to reach their web developers when they need them is more valuable than being able to drive to their office. Selecting an agency that is available during your working hours should be a factor in your choice, but you should choose the best agency, not the closest one.
Review proposals for quality, not price.
It is risky to be seduced by a low price, but a lofty price tag alone isn't an indication of quality work. You will find cost estimates can vary widely – depending on the size of the project, the thoroughness of the RFP, how much time you have spent discussing the project, and the qualifications of the talent providing the service. While you may be quoted $2,500 by one developer and $10,000 by another for the “same” project, you’ll most likely not be comparing “apples to apples” when reviewing the two estimates. Choose the proposal that is the most detailed and thoughtful. If the estimate has the highest price tag, ask the developer to explain the costs. If the estimate has the lowest cost, be a little suspicious and rely heavily on references.
Determine that the developers are technically capable of doing the job.
Technical capability can be difficult to assess if you lack the technical knowledge to make the assessment. The simplest approach is to insist on viewing their work, ask a lot of questions, and get references. Like any professional from any other industry, the developers will be able to show you past work, explain how their experience applies to what they have proposed for your website, and provide contact information for references.
Verify who will be doing the work.
It should be clear who will be providing the deliverables for all aspects of the project. It is not uncommon for agencies to outsource work, but that isn't always a bad thing. Request a list of the names and roles of all people that will be “touching” your project and be comfortable with what is outsourced. You should always know who your primary point of contact is and who will take ultimate responsibility for the finished work.
Ask what communication response times you can expect.
Some people just don't place importance on replying to emails or returning phone calls quickly. Delayed response can create unnecessary tension, especially if there are issues during the development or the review process. Communication style isn't typically part of the initial conversation, but if you bring it up and establish expectations, the project will go much smoother.
Consider selecting an agency that can provide additional services in the future.
You shouldn’t pay for services you don’t need for the project on the table. But, if you know you may need other web related work, choose the developers who have the capabilities and capacity to provide enhancements to your website and work on other projects. Working with one vendor for your development needs is always better than having different vendors working on various projects.
Select the developers who best speak your “language.”
To be clear, we aren't talking about your native tongue. The “language” we're talking about is the industry specific jargon we all use to express ideas, problems, and solutions. You and your web developer should have a basic knowledge of each other's jargon or have the ability to express yourself in plain English (substitute your native tongue here, that just happens to be ours). Spending time meeting with the web developers will quickly establish how easily you both bridge the “language” barrier.
Like the people at the web agency you select.
Although building websites isn't a personality contest, you need to have a trusting professional relationship with the people who have their hands on your digital presence. With so many companies to choose from, there isn't a single reason to hire people you don't like - at least a little!
If you’re in search of a web developer, we’d love to speak with you. Drop us a line!