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Business owners looking to create web apps can usually choose between three alternatives. The first one is building an in-house team of developers who will work exclusively for you and will be managed by you during the project duration. However, relatively few companies choose this option when hiring web developers. The main reason is that it’s the most expensive way to build a digital product. Three main reasons account for that:
- recruitment can be an expensive process, especially when you’re looking for skilled developers,
- you need to keep the developers on payroll until their services aren’t needed anymore,
- you need to build an ecosystem that supports the team; office, managers, computers, and many more.
Most of the time, business owners are left with two other options: hiring web developers working as freelancers or teaming up with a web development company.
On the one hand, you can get skilled freelancers with decent portfolios and a great track record.
On the other, you will find web development agencies that have plenty of talented developers on board and manage projects within a wide range of specializations and sectors.
So which option should you choose to keep your costs low and maximize your return on investment? In this article, we take a closer look at the benefits and challenges of each option to help you decide which one works best for your project.
Benefits of hiring freelance web developers
- Low cost
Hiring web developers working as freelancers is the cheapest way to build a web application. Freelancers will charge you only for their services, so you will be paying only for the work itself. However, many other costs, such as hosting or domain purchase, will be on your side.
Many freelance developers are motivated to deliver great results fast. After all, it’s in their best interest to be reliable and exceed your expectations. They will waste no time on office gossip and get right down to work.
Depending on where you hire freelancers, they might be okay with working unusual business hours. For example, they could update your website late at night or write code at any other time of the day. However, you need to be clear about your requirements right from the start so that you get no nasty surprises during the project.
Disadvantages of hiring freelancers
Judging by the above, you might be wondering: why isn’t everyone out there is hiring freelancers for their web development projects? However, freelancers come with their challenges as well. Here are the most important disadvantages of hiring web developers working as freelancers that you should be aware of before choosing this option.
Finding a reputable freelancer is difficult and might take a lot of time. Moreover, the only guarantee you will have is their track record and portfolio. You will have to be the one to tell whether their skills match the requirements of your project.
Freelancers tend to work on multiple projects at the same time. This means that they are not going to be available to work exclusively and full-time on your project. In fact, they might be available when you need them. If you desperately need somebody to apply updates, you can’t presume that they will be free to do that.
When preparing to hire freelancers, you need to negotiate and plan how the collaboration is going to look like on both sides.
The majority of freelancers want to get the job done as quickly as possible and deliver quality. There’s no doubt about that. However, they will never consider themselves as your employees. They might also have trouble connecting with your project.
Finding reliable freelancers is very difficult. You might think that the most important thing for a freelancer is to have great projects in their portfolios. You’d be surprised to learn how many things can go wrong in such collaborations. If a freelancer is delaying their work, you can’t really do anything about it.
- Security and confidentiality
In the tech world, confidentiality is critical because it often translates into survival on the market. Naturally, you can ask a freelancer to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
However, there’s still some risk involved in such a collaboration. A freelancer who works for you today might team up with your competitor tomorrow, and there’s nothing stopping them from implementing with solutions developed for your project.
Benefits of hiring a web development company
Now that you have a complete picture of what hiring a freelancer looks like let’s have a look at the benefits and challenges of teaming up with an outsourcing company that specializes in custom web development services.
- Broad range of services
The basic advantage of hiring an outsourcing company is that you get an entire team with a broad range of competencies. A company like that will be able to provide you with a broader range of services and offer you more than just one solution. They have access to all the resources and tools required to build a website and keep it running in excellent shape too.
- Technology expertise
Web development agencies usually have a strict recruitment process in place to make sure that only the most talented people with outstanding skills become part of the company. Moreover, they offer benefits and perks that attract such talents to their doorstep.
That’s why when hiring a software development company, you get access to outstanding technical expertise. You’ll be able to take advantage of the company’s collective experience in more than one area.
For example, a web development agency can deliver UX/UI design services, web development, quality assurance (QA), and product development services in the form of design workshops or scoping sessions. All in all, when you hire an outsourcing company, you get so much more than just pure development.
Until your product launches, the development team will include several members who deliver their work in regular iterations and follow the most innovative software development approaches. And once your product is ready, you can easily scale the team down to fewer members who will be responsible for maintaining and updating it.
And what if you need to build a new feature because your competitors have just updated their apps? It’s easy. The outsourcing company will be able to scale your team up to include more members and boost your resources to build a competitive advantage for your business.
- Top quality
If you look at the quality delivered by web development agencies, you will see that they are the ones who build award-winning websites. It’s not freelancers who build such smooth and appealing solutions, but software development teams. If you want to create a more sophisticated and attractive web application, hiring a freelancer might not be enough.
What’s more, agencies have processes in place that allow them to easily deal with situations like people getting sick or finding different jobs. You will never be left on your own with an unfinished product.
Typically, agencies have contracts in place that prevent them from working for your competitors. The legal action caused by such behavior has much more severe consequences than a non-disclosure agreement.
Challenges of hiring a web development company
Naturally, this option comes with drawbacks as well. And it’s important that you are aware of them before making your final choice. Here are the most important disadvantages of hiring an outsourcing company.
Hiring an entire development team will be more expensive than hiring a single freelancer. However, it’s still a less expensive option than building an in-house team. After all, you avoid all the overhead costs such as office rent, setting up workstations, hardware and software licenses, and others. All of that is provided by the web development agency.
- Potentially longer development process
If you’re looking to build a simple solution, hiring a freelance web developer is a smarter choice. After all, a web developer isn’t involved in complex workflows of a development team. Communication and project management are easier too. That’s why freelance developers deliver their work faster. However, this is only true for simple projects that can be handled by one person. If you’re looking to build a more complex web app, relying on a single freelancer will make the project much longer.
Which option works best for web development?
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your project. In general, designing and developing an outstanding web app will be a complex and multi-stage process. What do you want the website to achieve? Do you need a website that simply presents your offer or something more sophisticated?
If you want to test your business idea with a website and see how the market responds to it – and you need to launch it quickly and keep the expenses to a minimum – hiring a freelancer is a good idea. But only as long as the project takes no more than 350 hours in total (2 months of work). Otherwise, it’s smarter to rely on a team.
However, such a website will be very hard to expand or update. That’s why it’s smarter to hire an outsourcing company. You might be investing more upfront, but you will receive a product – even a simplified one in the form of a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) that will fulfill your initial objectives and then evolve together with your growing business. Only an outsourced web development team can provide you with this type of service.
We hope that this guide helps you choose the best option for your web development project. At Nopio, we have plenty of experience in delivering web development projects to clients operating in various industries. If you’re looking for more advice, feel free to get in touch with our consultants.