Web development is often a one-off task — such as when you’re launching a website. You then just need to contract the web developer again whenever you want to update your site, which is likely every two or three years.
However, you may also need a web developer for tasks like creating a chatbot, adding an e-commerce feature, or developing a web app. When you have regular web development needs, is it best to outsource web development or hire an in-house team?
Outsourcing Web Development: Benefits and Risks
Like every other type of task you can outsource, there are advantages and downsides to outsourcing web development. Nonetheless, most companies find that the benefits of outsourcing far outweigh the disadvantages of hiring an in-house web developer.
Why Outsource Web Development
First, even if you have ongoing needs for web development, such as adding functionality and making improvements based on usability data, it’s unlikely you have enough work for a full-time employee. This means you’ll by paying to have someone on your team who will have long stretches when there’s minimal work to do.
By outsourcing web development, you only pay an individual or team when you have a project. You can contract the web developer for a long period when you’re creating a website or app and just hire the developer for a few hours when you need an update or tweaks.
Even if someone at your company has web development skills, it could be a bad idea to ask this employee to handle web development tasks. For one thing, web development encompasses a variety of areas. Your employee may have in-depth knowledge of backend development but no experience in UI/UX.
Plus, there’s the fact you hired this employee for something else. Whenever your employee is working on web development, other aspects of your business are being neglected. In addition, it will likely mean you’ll take longer to finish web development projects.
Outsourcing means you can find someone with the exact skills you need for your project. If you have a number of different projects in the works, you can hire a number of freelancers or work with various professionals at the same agency. (We’ll come to the difference between hiring a freelancer and working with an agency later on.)
The Risks of Outsourcing
One of the main risks of outsourcing is that you’ll gain a low-quality service — but this is just as likely as with an in-house employee. You’ll need to vet the web developer just like you would job candidates. It may even be easier to assess an independent web developer, as you can read reviews and ask other businesses to ensure you make the right choice.
You’ll face additional challenges if you choose an offshore web developer. For instance, you may have problems with time differences and languages. However, there’s no need for outsourcing to mean offshoring — if you’re concerned about cultural differences, outsource web development work to someone in your country.
One last risk comes from needing to provide the web developer confidential data. Again, looking at reviews to find a trustworthy professional can make a big difference. Plus, you can ask the web developer to sign a non-disclosure agreement before starting work.
As you can see, it’s possible to mitigate all the risks of outsourcing!
What Are the Best Countries to Outsource Web Development?
We mentioned earlier that working with web developers can be risky. With that in mind, where is the best place to outsource web development? It depends what you’re looking for.
If you want to communicate with your web developer in real time, choose someone in a similar time zone.
However, if you do want to find an offshore web developer, you may be able to find far lower prices. For instance, web developers in Eastern Europe may be two or three times cheaper than in the U.S., Canada, or Australia. Whereas Northern American companies may face communication difficulties due to differences in time zones, it’s easy to find someone who speaks English at close to a native level.
Alternatively, North American companies can hire web developers from Latin America. Like this, you benefit from lower prices and can find someone in a similar time zone. Again, you’ll have plenty of options for developers who speak English fluently.
What Types of Web Development Projects Can You Outsource?
You can outsource web development projects ranging from the setup of a website to the creation of apps.
- Design — Web developers can offer support in both UI and UX. In fact, as the two grow in importance, the distinction between them becomes more blurred.
- Back-end development — Everything from speed, performance, and customization is covered by back-end development.
- Front-end development — The parts you actually see, like navigation and interactive features, are all aspects of front-end development.
- Project management — It’s useful to contract a project manager if you have employees with development skills or you want to hire a few freelancers to take on different roles and need someone to coordinate the effort.
How Much Does Outsourcing Web Development Cost?
We’ve already seen that outsourcing web development can be less expensive when you hire from some countries compared to others. But what does this mean in real terms?
Unfortunately, there is no standard rate — the cost varies according to the project. In broad terms, you can expect to pay anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars to outsource web development services. It depends on what you need. For instance:
- Maintenance to keep your website running properly can cost anywhere from $500 to $12,000 per year. Maintenance can also cover updating your CMS and fixing issues with your site.
- Interactive multimedia features cost $250 to $10,000 for the entire project.
- Responsive design — to ensure your website is able to function on any device — has a one-time cost of between $3,000 and $25,000.
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO) has a project price of between $300 and $600.
- The creation of a simple web application costs at least $3,000, although it will cost much more to build a complex app.
Choosing Between a Freelancer and a Team
Factors like cost, skills, speed of execution, and trust all vary according to if you choose a freelancer or a whole team of web developers.
When to Hire a Freelancer
If you have a project that requires a specific skill set and few resources, hiring a freelancer could be the way to go. As freelancers are typically less expensive, they’re a good option for startups and small businesses with limited budgets. Bear in mind that you should have a clear idea about what you want from your project, as the freelancer will expect you to offer guidance and provide detailed instructions.
When to Opt for an Agency
More complex projects often call for an agency. Working with an agency gives you access to a range of talent. You’ll also receive a project manager, meaning there will be no need to manage the team yourself. Provided you are able to communicate your goals effectively, your involvement can be minimal.
You’ll also have a larger number of people working on your project, meaning it will launch sooner. However, the higher costs are something to bear in mind.
How to Successfully Outsource Web Development
No matter if you opt for a freelancer or an agency, there are a few things you need to do to ensure your project runs smoothly.
1. Decide Why You Need Web Development Services
Before you even begin to research web developers, you need to know exactly what you need. This will allow you to narrow down your search to professionals who are experienced in that type of project.
At this stage, it’s also a good idea to define the goals of your project. When you start talking to web developers, discuss your aims. Developers will be able to tell you if they have the right skills — and if your targets are reasonable!
Finally, consider how much you can afford to spend on your project. If your budget is lower than the rates you receive in proposals, you’ll need to decide whether it’s worthwhile assigning more funds to web development or if you should delay the project until you can afford it.
2. Choose a Provider Who Knows How to Communicate
Even if you opt to have minimal involvement in the project, you’ll want to receive regular progress reports and know what exactly the web developer is doing at all times. You can assess the communication skills of web developers from your first interactions.
A web developer should be able to explain complex concepts. Avoid anyone who uses technical language without translating what this means into everyday terms.
In addition, discuss how you’ll stay in touch during the project. Slack chat or Zoom meetings are far better than emailing back and forth.
3. Begin with a Small Project
A great way to test a web developer’s skills is to assign just a small project first. Even if you need an entire website, you can ask the web developer to start with just a couple elements. This will prevent you wasting a large amount of money on work you’re unhappy with. If everything goes well, though, you can gradually increase to larger projects.
4. Draw Up a Contract
When hiring a freelancer, always draw up a contract that sets out the terms of the job. A reputable agency should provide you with one without you needing to ask. A contract will reduce the risk of disagreements and misunderstandings.
At some point during your time in business, you’ll almost certainly need to outsource web development. Knowing exactly what you want, how much you can expect to pay, and how to find the best web developer for your needs will ensure the project runs smoothly. You’ll also feel more confident outsourcing other tasks that your business needs.