I may be biased, but it goes without saying that I’m a fan of outsourcing projects to specialist freelancers and agencies. When you hire locally for an in-house team, you’re limiting yourself to a puddle of talent when you could be utilising oceans. Outsourcing allows you to hire the best regardless of location and find someone who is truly right for your company. However, when it comes to outsourced web development projects, many managers find themselves disappointed with the results.
While this is a common problem, it really shouldn’t be. Here are the typical mistakes business owners and project managers make when working with web development agencies or freelancers.
Reason #1: Valuing cost over experience
Everyone loves a bargain and while we don’t agree with paying insanely high fees, you need to keep in mind that web development requires specialist skills and experience if you want a top-notch finished product. Do some research to get an idea of what the average cost is and then choose a team with experience and a portfolio that appeals to you. This is the digital foundation your business will be built on, so now is not the time to cut corners.
Reason #2: Opting for freelancers
It may seem appealing to hire one developer who will deal with everything, but the reality is that you are very unlikely to find a single person who is excellent at every element needed to create your project. What you’ll be getting is a handyman who can turn his hand to most jobs and get by, but doesn’t truly know his stuff.
On the other hand, development agencies have multiple people with different specialities on staff, which means you’ll have an expert working on every single element.
Reason #3: Not taking time in the beginning
While entrepreneurs have amazing vision and industry-changing ideas, they’re often a little out of their depth when it comes to the cogs needed to make these visions a reality – that’s where development agencies come in. However, a common mistake made by both entrepreneurs and developers is that they often rush into a project without ensuring they’re both on the same page. When outsourcing, make sure you find an agency who will ask lots of questions and insist on understanding everything you’re trying to achieve.
Reason #4: Failing to be realistic
On the surface it may seem like a simple job, but web projects contain many different elements, with each one requiring time and attention to make sure it’s right. With this in mind, both parties need to be realistic when it comes to timelines, with the client accepting that web development takes a little time to get right and the developer resisting the urge to give an unrealistic timeframe just to get the contract.
Reason #5: Not ironing out details
Before the developer starts work, both sides should have ironed out the project goals, budget and timeline. If the developer knows what they’re doing, by now they will have a clear idea of what the client wants to achieve and will have advised the client on exactly what will and won’t work. This can prevent clashes down the line, as everything is laid out in black and white from the start.
Reason #6: Prioritising design
Yes, great designs can reel customers in and help create the brand’s tone, but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of the project’s overall functionality. Often a client will know the look or cool features they want and try to start from there, but a good developer will look at the functionality requirements first. The project may need certain technical elements to fulfil different parts of the client’s business or marketing plan and sometimes these just won’t gel with a preferred design. Once functionality has been dealt with, you can build the design aspirations around that.
Reason #7: Failing to appoint project managers
It is so important for a development agency to appoint great project managers. These people should fully understand the project goals and aims, and be able to speak with confidence from a business and development standpoint. They should also be organised and great communicators who can make necessary points simply and clearly. This is your point man, keeping your project on track and making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be.
Reason #8: Regular communication
I’m not suggesting 3am Skype chats about your day, but the point of contact at the development agency should be checking in regularly with the client once work gets underway. The client should never be left wondering what’s happening or feeling like a nuisance when they get in contact. Schedule a weekly check-in, even if it’s just by email, to update the client on progress and whether the project is still meeting its deadlines. Failing to keep in contact can result in the client and developer falling out of sync and the project moving in the wrong direction.
Reason #9: Losing direction
And speaking of the wrong direction, as we said before, entrepreneurs are ideas people and often as the project goes through the development process, the client will think of new ideas or elements they want. While this is a natural part of the creative process, remember that every element your developers are working on is connected to several others, so mid-project changes can have a big effect, even if it seems small to you. If you want added features or changes, make sure everyone is clear and upfront about the fact this will likely affect the cost and timeline of the project.
#10: Guidelines for measuring success
It’s good to have clear metrics laid out for measuring success. Basic functionality goes without saying, but laying out the things you want your visitors or clients to be able to do gives the development agency-specific goals to reach for and a list the client can check off at the end.
So there you – 10 straightforward ways to ensure your outsourced web development project works like a dream.