Things to consider before hiring a contractor for web design and development

By Aditi Das

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Things to consider before hiring a contractor for web design and development

Websites are the most used media to represent a business identity online. There can be no better way to showcase your business, products, services and portfolio than a website. Apart from the basic websites, there are complex web based applications, which serves as the platform for a business. But whatever be your requirement – a basic website or a large web application, you must hire a company or freelancer for getting the job done for you! And selection of the perfect contractor for your work is actually the most important part of the entire project. More perfect your choice is: more relaxed you can be in the next few months/years (during the project execution). Today I mention a few suggestions here, that will definitely help you to select the best web application developer for your purpose:

  • Know yourself:
    Knowing self is very important. You need to find out a contractor who can match, adopt and accept the way you are. Analyze self, communicate with the contractor exactly the way you are and feel the vibe from other side – You will be able to filter out some of them easily!
  • Know your requirements:
    It’s one of the most crucial steps involved in the whole process. When you want something creative developed – which is the one of it’s kind, it’s only you who knows the idea in and out. You need to question yourself, generate various situations and draft the requirement in a document. If you want it quick and perfect, you may take help of a consultant who can then ask you a series of questions, analyze the requirements and create a document for you. Additionally get a wire-frame done by the professional as that would give a visual idea to the developer and the UI designer about what needs to be done.
  • Make people sign NDA before they know your idea:
    Very important. Whenever you are sharing your idea or proof of concept with a prospective contractor, send him an NDA and have him sign it. Once done, you can share the information.
  • Have a budget:
    A gentleman (An old client of mine, who turned into a guide later) once told me this: “Business is a chain, and every single node is dependent on the other to maintain that chain. if you feed one node more and less another one, the one being less fed will be broken eventually – resulting in the chain to collapse.”

    In a software development business (read chain), the client, the development service provider, the hosting service provider etc. are the nodes – So you understand the rest .. right ?Remember, everything has a price associated with it. People out there – doing business, will do profit anyway to survive. Don’t expect someone with 3USD/Hr. rate will deliver you the same quality like someone with an hourly rate of 15USD/Hr residing in same country. Since you will most likely be approached by contractors from different countries, selecting highest price bid would also not be wise as may be the person with highest bid amount has to bear a very high living cost and that is more a reason behind his high bid, than the quality! Solution? Yes there is a solution – Don’t worry πŸ™‚
    Ask every contractor to list out all the features based on their understanding and ask them to perform a Cost-Break-Down Analysis and submit to you while mentioning the time for each component and the cost associated. There is double benefit to this – You will be able to better judge who is estimating it correctly, and at the same point of time, you will be able to see who understood it right! If you see that your preferred contractor is bidding a bit high – don’t compromise with your shortage of funds. Rather figure out other options to make the deal to happen, like delayed payments etc. and if the contractor is flexible and understanding, he will definitely agree. Price competition is not good for any product – people doing it are not focused at quality – they target quantity. Beware!
  • Avoid typical job sites:
    If you want a quality product, don’t post your job to any typical job posting websites where hundreds of freelancer will bid and compete for price. Surprised ? Please don’t be, let me explain: It’s true that there are many service providers working there. Hundreds of them put bid in your project and in order to be competitive, they put the bid amount much lower than what it should actually be. Now they also need to make profit out of it – So they compromise with the quality! In IT business money is translated to time.So if a provider is having 10USD/Hr rate, then a 1000 USD job will be a 100 Hr. job to him, and he will do anything to get that completed within that 100 hours. If you think otherwise, show me big software applications those were actually developed via those job-sites. Remember facebook, twitter, instagram – none of them are developed in any of the so called jobsites πŸ™‚
  • Find out and approach contractors:
    So, if not jobsites – then where would you get the contractors ? Relax – If you have a good range of connection (friends/colleagues), talk to them and they should be able to refer to someone they might have worked with in the past and the experience was good! Also, search internet by putting in appropriate keywords and list out 100 companies (You will get 1000s, so don’t worry). Lastly, if you still want to explore Upwork or freelancer.com, post your job there, have interview the candidates, but be reasonable and give them a room to build the software with quality. Tell it to them straight away and demand quality. Remember, you cannot get quality, fast delivery and cheap price at a time. To get quality output very fast – you need to spend a much higher amount. If you want cheap and fast service – be assured you are going to get a poor software. If time is not a priority, rather budget is – tell the freelancer clearly about that and they will derive a plan that will satisfy both your and theirs interest.
  • Freelance OR Company:
    Possibly the trickiest part of the whole lot, but I will make it simple, no worries πŸ™‚
    First of all – exclude all the part time freelancers regardless of their experience and knowledge- remember, their fulltime job is what brings his bread and butter, and that is always the priority. To them your project is just a way to earn some extra money – so beware.
    Now there are Fulltime freelancers and Companies (SME or Enterprise), and any of them can be a good fit based on your specification. If the project size is big enough (more than 3 months), you should better get a company. Changes come more often to an individuals life than a company and you should not risk your project for that. An awesome freelancer too can get into so many personal issues or become ill that his engagement in the project may largely decrease despite honest efforts from both ends. A company, however gives you the assurance for a longer term and can be responsible even for the maintenance for a long term. A good company always have some backup ready, so in case of the non-availability of developer, they can replace someone instantly, which reduces the risk a lot. However, this is not that simple as it sounds – when you talk to a company, then you need to clarify all these things and make them accountable for the risk scenarios that may happen. You must emphasize about having a dedicated project manager if your project is supposed to run for more than 6 months and you have other jobs at hand. You may have to spend some extra bucks, but that will be worthy. If the project is big, go for dedicated hiring, initially it may look like you are spending more than somebody with a fixed cost budget, but trust me at the end you will get a much better product and will be in peace while spending less money. However you also need to monitor the progress at least every alternate days by having a call with the project manager and the developer(s). I would suggest not to go for hiring a huge enterprise unless you really need to. Remember, the cost would be 10 times more what you will be offered by a medium sized company, just because of the business overhead they have and also you will have much less control over the process. So unless you are representing a Fortune 500 company, where you have regulatory norms of hiring a contractor, don’t go for an enterprise – Select a small/medium company.
  • Don’t consider any location preference while hiring:
    Don’t keep any restriction in terms of the location of the developer anyway – this will narrow down your options and deviate you from getting the ideal candidate for your project. Everywhere in this world there are people who are good and bad, skilled and less-skilled, so don’t put any preference over location πŸ˜‰
  • Make a voice call with the shortlisted ones and then video call:
    Once you shortlist a few candidates, have a voice call with them – Ask them specific question about the project- What they understood from your description ? What they suggest ? What is their project plan ? etc. and again you should be able to get the final 3. Have a video call with these 3, notice their ambience, attitude and promptness and I am sure you will get to know your preferred contractor.

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