Outsourcing Web Design & Development: 5 Important Tips

Most businesses today outsource their web design and development as it makes more sense from a financial and management perspective. Here are 5 important tips to help you when outsourcing your web design and development:


1.    Define scope and schedule

The main deliverables of your web design and development project should be included in the project scope. Further a schedule or timeline breaking down the deliverables will give you a good indication on how the project should be progressing.


Ensure you communicate your expectations to your web designer and developer before the go ahead of the project to prevent scope creep. Scope creep occurs when you haven’t clearly communicated the deliverables required and so during the project these new deliverables creep in.


Scope creep creates a lot of confusion and wastes project time. So always ensure you clearly state what you require from the project and outsourced provider at the onset.


2.    Know who you’re getting in bed with

Before your outsourced web developer starts work and before payment is made, ensure that you have a contract in place stipulating the agreement terms. However, be aware who you’re entering the contract with, for example, is it an individual or a company? If it’s just an individual freelancer and not a company, you risk not being protected should something go wrong.


If you’re outsourcing the work to a company in a developing country, it is best if a legitimate foreign company in a developed country owns that outsourcing company. This is because the number of freelancers and “cowboy” operators has mushroomed in developing countries since web design and development is an extremely lucrative opportunity. There are many untrained and under qualified freelancers posing to be a company on online platforms such as Odesk and Elance.


3.    Ensure your outsourced partner shares the same vision

In order to know if your outsourced web designer shares your vision, you can view samples of previous work the outsourced web designer has done. However, it is often difficult to verify the legitimacy of this. Unfortunately, it is common especially for freelancers in developing countries to pass off work done by others as their own in order to get clients. Testimonials can also be fabricated. Furthermore, for outsourcing companies especially those that do lots of work for other local web design and development companies, they often sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with their clients restricting what they can show you.


The best option would be to put forth your vision with specific details for the design and development of the website, assess if the outsourced provider is forthcoming with ideas and request if they can do a complimentary 1 page virtual mockup design. It is rare but there are outsourced web design providers who are willing to provide you with all this without obligating you to a sale.


This way you will be able to assess if they share your vision and if they have shown so much effort even without obligating you to a sale then chances are you can trust them to do an excellent job. On your part, you should not abuse this gesture of theirs. If the sample design does not align with your vision even after further discussions, then you would have to politely move on. Just ensure you don’t use their web design sample with another provider due to copyright issues.


4.    Pay promptly according to milestones completed

Usually after signing the contract, the outsourced web designer and developer will require a 50% deposit to reserve the start date on their development schedule. After this deposit is made, other progress payments might be required. Final payment is usually required before everything is up and running on the live site. Ensure that you pay the required milestone payments promptly failing which you risk delaying your project and creating mistrust with your outsourced provider.


5.    Decide on ownership of the website

Although from your perspective you are paying a web developer to develop your site, just be aware that this does not mean you have ownership of the completed site. If your agreement with your outsourced provider does not state the ownership of the completed website, then this means there is silent ownership where the outsourced provider will own the site.


Clarify the ownership of the website and your intentions for the site with your outsourced provider before the commencement of the project.

For example, if you want a custom application created for your site that you intend to later package and resell, then you will need to communicate that to your outsourced provider as that would be significantly different to having a standard website as a source of information for your clients and prospects. Having full ownership of the website will cost more so you will have to weigh the importance of this with your budget.


Using the above tips, you will be able to outsource your web design and development for success.