tips for getting an awesome outsourced web developers

Why Outsourcing Web Development Is Not As Easy As You think

I’m a firm believer that ever contractor, home improvement, or home service business, large or small needs to have a functioning website that ‘breathes’ for effective marketing.  It doesn’t need to be remarkably fancy, or award winning, just a website that looks modern & professional, is kept current and is updated regularly with new content.  It sounds easy, but in all actuality, it is harder than it sounds.  Getting the modern & professional website is the easy part.  Its not uncommon to find a contractor’s website that looks great down to the last pixel, but still has ‘Lorem Ipsum’ in the footer.  Keeping it up to date and adding content is the struggle.  Even as an experienced webmaster, who’s been very successful with content marketing, adding content is low on my priority list in between playing salesman, accountant, project manager, and wearing all of my other hats.  Even worse is dealing with the site design changes, such as making the contact form more user friendly, or installing an SSL encryption.  These things require coding, which I can do, but spending hours coding, or troubleshooting CSS is among the most ineffective uses of my time.   So I outsource it.

Outsourcing it however is a mess of its own.  It seems easy to hire a freelance web developer on a platform like Freelancer.com and say “here’s what I want done”, but 99 out 100 times, it flops.  Hard.  What you will get is half ass, sloppy work that solves the specific issue or technically implements the change, but then fucks up something else on the website leaving you with another problem.  It almost seems as if they don’t test their own work.  I’ve got extremely high standards and my contractor website gets 500+ visitors a day – it needs to be flawless.  I don’t have time for baloney.  As a business owner with customers visiting your website, you don’t either. Knowing this, you need to set up a development site to try the freelancer on – which takes time.  If you don’t know how to set up a development site, forget outsourcing.

Now you might think that I’m only hiring cheap freelancers and/or not paying them enough.  Fair thought.  I’ve had that thought too, and went for more expensive developers, but the results were no better.  It was a simple hit or miss on what I got.

With low cost freelancers, and likewise few reviews you run the clear chance they just lack the skills.  With higher cost freelancer, and like wise many reviews, it seems that they just don’t care.  Likely they’re so busy they’ve got a team banging out tasks without much care, or they’ve somehow ran across clients without top notch standards (admittedly I have high standards).

That said I have found a few diamonds in the rough.  Two freelancers I’ve found, can do anything I throw at them, with due care and careful testing.  One based in the US and one based in Pakistan.  Surprisingly, their hourly rate is about the same.   Being outstanding developers, who can deliver high quality work, means they generally have a full plate.  Their often workload is typically out several weeks, and they naturally have to delay response times to ‘small fixes’.  Like everyone else, I want instant gratification, and these website changes are intended to ultimately increase profitability, so I occasionally go on the hunt for other developers.  I usually strike out.

The time I spend searching for excellent developers is ridiculous.  I post a detailed job brief.  Make a project scope screencast video.  I interview them on skype.  Then set up a development site.  Then (here’s where it gets shitty) review their work.  I shouldn’t have to go beyond this point but sometimes there is a miscommunication, so I give a chance to fix.  After that, if it is not done to my standards, I cut my losses and move on.  I’m currently looking for a solution to this problem.  One option seems to be Codeable.  Codeable is a platform which prequalifies their candidates for development knowledge and skill.  The developers bid on the project, but rather than letting you select a bid, it averages their bids and you pay the same price no matter who you choose.  The Codeable prequalifying process claims to weed out 98% of applicants which is intended to insure high quality work.  The downside is their cartel like bidding process doesn’t inspire price competition so rates are likely to be high.  Of course, time is money and if it save me time and headache so I can focus doing things to make my field service company grow, it’s worth it.  I’m also looking at revamping my qualification process for freelancers, which I intend to write a post about at a later time.

Founder of a home service / specialty trade contracting company (think patio's and deck) with a focus on customer experience. Quantitative investor. Data driven marketer. Runner.

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