How to Hire a Website Development Company
Have you ever used a website that looks up-to-date and modern, but is clunky? There is nothing more annoying than navigating through a website and you keep hitting a page that says “error” or that it is “under construction.” For a business, this could be a disaster. A website is often the first point of connection between a customer and the business, and it needs to work. In this article, we will explore how to hire a web development company that fits your business needs.
What is Website Development?
Website development is a subset of software development. However, it solely focuses on websites, versus web applications or desktop databases. In a nutshell, website development is the work done on a website to ensure that it functions and isn’t a stagnant site or simply a PDF on the web.
Web Design vs. Web Development: Which Do You Need?
Web design encompasses anything design-related within websites. This includes graphic design, user interface, coding, and user experience (also known as UI/UX). Web development, on the other hand, is a type of software development, focused on applications that connect to the internet. Web developers take the framing the web designers created and make it a functional reality.
If you are creating a whole new website or application, then you will need both a web designer and developer because you will need someone to design the look and use of the site. From here, the developer would build the coding so that the website or application is useful. An example of this would be if you are creating a retail website. The designer would design a site that is easy to use, looks fresh, and has easy-to-use eCommerce functionality. The developer would do all the work via coding to make it work. However, if you have a site that is already in use and you are looking to make updates, then it is unlikely that you would need to have a web designer. The developer would be able to make all the changes necessary, so your website is working and competitive.
For an in-depth explanation describing the difference between web design and web development, check out our article here.
What Are the Different Types of Website Development?
When developing a website, there are two parts that developers focus on—the front-end and back-end. Many developers focus on one of these parts of the website as a specialty, but many are experts on both and are called full-stack developers. In this table, we break this down further:
Front-end developers can create this from scratch using the code language or use templates from existing open-source or content management systems, like WordPress or Wix, and modify the code. These developers work closely with designers (often being the designer themselves), and the client.
Back-end developers ensure that the software, servers, and database use of the website is in working order. This includes user management, membership, customer records, and other data-driven functions. For example, if you have a website that is driven by users who log in to check an account, the back-end developer ensures that any data associated with the user is coded correctly. They do this with database languages like SQL, Ruby, and C#.
If you are creating a website from scratch or are doing a major overhaul, you will likely need a full-stack developer. These developers are skilled in both front-end and back-end website development. Full-stack developers are also typically versed in connecting your website to other web servers (e.g., Amazon), sites, or social media, using application programming interfaces (APIs) or plugins.
What Are the Most Common Types of Web Development Tasks?
The most common tasks associated with developers depend on their specialty, front-end, back-end, or full-stack development.
Front-end developers will work with graphics and web designers, collaborate with the client, and update the website using coding languages. Back-end developers will use database languages to ensure that connections between data points are functioning. They also are responsible for troubleshooting issues that come up (e.g., “bugs). Full-stack developers do a mix of all of these, and all types of developers are skilled in project management, monitor websites, and stay educated on new technology and languages that may be relevant.
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Should I Hire an Agency, a Freelancer, or Handle Website Development In-House?
Now that you have a good grasp of what web development is, you need to decide who to hire to take care of all of that for you. For some people, that may mean an in-house team, for others that may mean hiring an agency. Below, we’ve broken down the positives and negatives of either hiring in-house website developers or outsourcing website development teams.
Positives and Negatives of In-House
Long-term Website Development
If you are developing a website that will require long-term work and regular changes, then it is better to build a team of developers in-house. They can be fully committed to the site, know it inside out, and easily and quickly make changes or fixes when needed.
When hiring any staff, you typically look for people who have aligned standards to the company. This also applies to in-house developers. In-house developers will inherently have interests that match their employer and understand their standards, which will make working through projects easier.
Company’s Culture Fit
In-house developers who “get” the company are usually more efficient, (and thus cheaper) than trying to work with the best specialists who are a poor fit.
Developing a website in-house allows you to monitor all the steps in the process. If something goes wrong, you can catch it right away. Therefore, the turnaround time in fixing the problem is shorter than it would be in the case of hiring someone outside of the company.
It takes time to find the right hire and negotiate with them to join your team. Even then, there is no guarantee that the new hire will begin work as soon as you need.
Unless your company has a large marketing or IT services department, it is unlikely that you will find someone to cover all your specific needs or expertise.
Hiring any staff member costs money. This includes the time spent finding them, annual salaries, benefits, and general overhead costs. However, outsourcing only costs what is agreed upon for your project. All the other miscellaneous expenses are covered by that agency or freelancer.
Positives and Negatives of Freelancers
Hiring someone to work in-house takes time and resources. Using an agency or freelancer will save you time and money so you can get to work on the website ASAP.
Outsourcing to a freelancer or agency with a large talent pool for a limited time, according to the requirements of your project or specific business operations, allows you to be nimble in your needs.
Scalability and Time Commitment
When you outsource your hire, you can hire for the exact number of hours and individuals you need for the project. This allows you the flexibility to create deadlines that best fit your project needs and budget..
Overall Reduced Costs
Outsourcing can get you higher productivity at lower costs. Studies show that with outsourcing the savings can be up to 60%. If you are a start-up or small business, outsourcing your development needs would not be a hit on your wallet.
In general, it is easier to control all aspects of any project when the hire is in-house. While freelancers are obligated to you via a contract, they are not as versed in company standards as an in-house hire is.
You can expect that your outsourced freelancer or development company is working with other clients while they are working with you. As a result, your project may not receive 100% of their commitment.
Security and Confidentiality
Security and confidentiality are a concern even for in-house projects, but it is increased when outsiders, like freelancers and agencies, are hired for a project.
Why You Should Hire a Website Development Company
Regardless of if you have a small website to create or need to maintain a complex membership-based site, having a website developer is key. We already know that a website is key for any business, but a pretty website will do nothing if it does not work. Unless you are a large company that can afford website developers in-house for full time, then outsourcing your developing needs is the smart choice.
Hiring a Website Development Company
You may have decided that you are ready to hire a website developer. Now here are some questions and answers that will help you during your search:
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Website Development Company?
The pricing of a web development company is based on two things: the freelancer costs and the website platform they choose. For example, should the developer (and you) choose to host your website on an open-source platform (e.g., WordPress), then there are standard costs with that platform. However, the bulk of costs will come from the agency or freelancer you choose.
There are two cost structures for developing websites: hourly or flat rate.
- Hourly rate: This rate can vary from $100-$180.
- Flat rate: The average cost of a basic website is $6,750.
If you just have maintenance needs with your site, hourly rates are more common. Additionally, if you have a very basic website with little support needed, a developer will charge hourly.
When hiring a web developer, you will typically see a flat rate, with a contract that includes a project management plan. The fees will include setup, code creation, potential client training, and maintenance, (and design if choosing an agency that does this as well). Note that the price of $6,750 is for a basic website. If you have a dynamic site that needs constant changes or maintenance, the costs could be much greater.
How to Find a Website Development Partner
UpCity has made this step easy. UpCity has a list of partners that we have vetted and developed. We have a list of award-winning firms here.
You likely have a network of like-minded individuals that you can lean on for a referral. Word-of-mouth may be old-fashioned, but it still works. By hearing from your network of colleagues and friends, you will likely receive a more candid response and trustworthy review.
Regardless of the tool you use to find your partner, we suggest doing a thorough review. Take time to research on the web, including looking at testimonials and their portfolio. It is important to find a web development partner that fits your needs, budget, and personality.
Skills to Look for in a Website Development Partner
A developer should understand the coding and processes that are on a website. They are not required to be the creative lead on the website, as that is the web designer’s responsibility. Here are some skills to keep in mind.
Access to Marketing Expertise
Depending on the needs of your site, it may be vital to have access to a marketing expert. Front-end developers often have some marketing knowledge as they work with designers, they are not the marketing experts. Back-end developers will likely not have much expertise in marketing except base knowledge of SEO. To build an effective website, whoever you hire for development will need to have access to a marketing expert who can support these needs, so any changes made to the site do not negatively affect marketing needs.
Project Management Capabilities
When deciding on a developer, be sure to ask how they approach project management. It is particularly important to understand how they approach risk within a website and how they approach the process of testing and launching a website. This is key for making sure there are no bugs, and your website is on point when launched.
Depending on the type of business you have and the website you will need or have, you should look for a web developer with that specific expertise. For example, if you have decided to use WordPress for your web platform, then you certainly need someone who is an expert on WordPress or another open-source platform.
Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Website Developer
The process of finding the right outsourced website developer is not unique. Overall, you should follow the same steps and standards as you would if the person were to be working at your company. However, there are some differences and frequent mistakes that we suggest avoiding.
Hiring Too Quickly
When you need someone ASAP, it is easy to want to hire someone quickly. However, updating a website or creating it from scratch is a process that should be done carefully and thoughtfully. If you hire someone too quickly, you will likely see negative results later.
Does Not Match Your Needs
When you are hiring someone, ensure that you are looking at the whole picture. The person may be within your budget, but are they skilled in project management? Look at all their skills and your needs before making a decision.
Company Culture Differences
If you have decided to outsource your website development needs, then you are working with an entity that has its own business culture. However, this does not mean that they cannot align with yours. Be sure to hire someone who believes in your company’s values and standards. This will lead to efficient communication and timely deliverables.
After you have vetted and signed with an agency, you can expect:
- Conversations around business goals and objectives
- Initial work gathering information and data on your existing website (if any) and any communication or project management platforms you use
- Conducting a site audit to identify content gaps and technical opportunities
- Follow the project management model established in the project management proposal
- Regular reports on successes and opportunities for change or growth
Do you have any questions about hiring the best website development company for your business? Check out our picks for the top website development companies in the United States and Canada for further information.