Does Outsourcing Web Development Pay Off in the End?

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On a quick surf across the internet, you’ll find dozens of websites offering web development and coding services for prices beyond imagination – for less than you pay the lady who cleans your office. Do things even out in the end, is the vast price difference explained by the gulf in income levels, or are the budget avenues too good to be true?

Think about it for a moment. If you can outsource your web projects to India, East Europe, and other places where the labor is cheap and get the same job done for $5 to $10 per hour, then how in the world is it possible that those of us, whose charges are in the mid-range or above, are still in the business, alive and well? There has to be something to the old “get what you pay for” adage. Similar services tend to assume similar price ranges on a global market eventually.

While the appeal of getting the work done up to six to eight times cheaper than you would in the West may be ideal for those on tight budgets – or just hopeless cheapskates! – There are several pros and cons to consider in assessing whether it’s worth the endeavor. Let me outline some of the possible scenarios you may end up in your quest for a website if you’re out looking for a coder on your own. I’ve witnessed myself or heard others relate to me in most of the scenarios below. There are, no doubt, a dozen more that are equally fascinating.

The “code works for the time being” scenario

You’ll find a coder who codes the job together, and the website application seems to serve its purpose. And you got a good site at a fair price! The code, however, is poorly structured, documented, and non-extendable for future use. You’ll likely end up paying for the changes as much as you paid for the original website work, leading you to wonder what exactly you saved in the long run.

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The “cryptic communication” scenario

You’ll find a competent coder who doesn’t know English all that well. Communication isn’t smooth, and you’ll find yourself explaining the same things repeatedly, pulling the hair off your head as your deadlines approach. In the end, many things don’t get done exactly how you wanted them, but you let it pass since you’ve already wasted so much time on it, and the website somehow serves the purpose. You got the site cheaper, but then again, you didn’t exactly get what you wanted or needed.

The “coder goes hiding” scenario

You’ll find a coder who’s good when he’s available. However, every other month he drops off the world map for three weeks, his laptop sinks in a flood, and he can’t get a replacement for a month, or he figures he’ll only reply to you when he’s done with the job, as he doesn’t want to displease you by saying he’s delayed. The critical security fix you needed for your website didn’t get done, and the scheduled campaign had to be postponed.

The “very best and expert coder” scenario

You’ll find a coder who says he’s the best and most accomplished and can meet all your demands to the highest possible degree. However, no sane coder can make heads or tails out of his code, and the code doesn’t even work exactly as you expected, even if it has dozens of interesting features and subfeatures. No doubt the guy was a genius, but you’ll be up for a task to find a second genius to unravel his mysteries!

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The “enjoy while you can” scenario

You’ll find a coder who’s good and is consistently available. He may not be the cheapest of the lot, but he’s still below the general price range in the West, and he knows good English and thinks straight. However, he’ll be in demand once the word gets around – you won’t be the only one he’ll be developing websites for. Enjoy while you can. With an increasing demand for his services, be prepared for either the prices going up – closer to local prices, as he’s understood he has shots for charging more – or his becoming less available and the delivery times extending.

I’ve seen too many people searching for a website that tried to go the cheap way around, only to find themselves in a major mess when things just didn’t work out in the end. I finished writing this piece after getting off the phone with a customer who fired two web developers who didn’t get their act together.

I don’t mean to say you couldn’t make it work if you invested in it. The bottom line is, how much of your time and energy are you willing to invest in a web development circus? If you value your time and aren’t into developing an elaborate setup around functional outsourcing to inexpensive countries, you may want to consider the hassle-free regular way around. Pay a fair price, get what you pay for, and have peace of mind.

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