Trying your hand at web design and development when you’re an amateur can feel like attempting to write a novel in a foreign language.
It’s definitely best left to the professionals.
That being said, not every agency or startup is able to hire a full-time web developer. What’s an entrepreneur to do?
Fortunately outsourcing web design and development is a great option for tackling all your web-related work without having to commit to taking on an extra employee.
Read our tips below to find out how to make outsourcing work for you.
What is outsourcing?
While talk of outsourcing often conjures up images of call centers in far-away places, this is an extremely narrow and outdated conception of what outsourcing really is. Outsourcing is simply contracting out any task (either one-time or recurring) on your business’s docket. This contract can be with an individual, agency, or service, and can involve a partnership that crosses oceans or one that exists with someone in your own neighborhood. The party will be paid based on an agreed amount for the specific task that is accomplished, rather than on a recurring salary basis.
There are many reasons for outsourcing, which is why agencies of all sizes and verticals use it as a method for maintaining and scaling their businesses. For instance, outsourcing:
- Is a great option for small agencies and entrepreneurs to scale their work, seeing that it demands fewer resources than hiring an additional employee (or employees).
- Allows entrepreneurs and teams to focus on what they do best rather than having to dedicate time and resources to figuring out and stumbling through new systems and unfamiliar skills.
- Enables you to feasibly leverage the expertise of professionals in all facets of establishing and maintaining your agency.
- Increases the quality and the value of your setup and offerings.
- Opens up new opportunities and allows you to take advantage of opportunities that may not have been possible just on your own steam.
- Can be a way to collaborate with high-rolling professionals, growing your network, your knowledge-base, and your skillset.
- Can also be a long-term solution, contrary to popular belief.
Surprising facts about outsourcing
1. Almost anything can be outsourced
As mentioned above, outsourcing is so much more than customer service and call centers nowadays. If there’s something your business has to take care of, it’s almost guaranteed that you can find a freelancer, agency, or service that’s willing to take it off your plate.
2. You can outsource to someone across the street or across the globe
Freelancing has become an increasingly common career option, opening more and more doors for outsourcing. There have also been more specialized services and outsourcing agencies (e.g., ones dedicated to web design and development) that have opened in North America. They’ve recognized that the demand for specialized services on a contract basis is a popular demand, and aim to meet it.
This means that, while it’s still possible to outsource work across the world, there are also options for supporting your local economy with the outsourcing model.
3. You don’t need to be a big company or have big departments to outsource your work
In case it hasn’t been emphasized enough that outsourcing isn’t what it used to be, you no longer have to have huge budgets and an entire department’s worth of work to draw up an outsourcing contract. In fact, outsourcing is a particularly excellent business model for the entrepreneur whose ideas extend beyond their expertise, time, and/or budget. Freelancers and specialist agencies often find most of their work is dedicated to startups, one-man-bands, and small agencies and businesses, so they’re particularly adept at servicing their needs.
Monitoring and maintaining quality control when outsourcing
Especially when you’re used to handling every aspect of your business yourself, relinquishing control through outsourcing can feel scary. But if you set up the right procedures for quality control, you can still feel confident that the work you receive meets your exacting standards. The three things you need to consider are:
1) Who is doing your work?
2) What are your expectations?
3) How are you keeping on top of progress?
1. Who is doing your work?
There are two main routes to go when outsourcing: using a freelancer, or using a service. While there are certainly quality individuals out there, the range of price and quality with freelancers is vast, and the process in general is a bit more unpredictable and risky. With an established service, you’re working with a company with a hierarchy of responsibility that has a harder time escaping a bad reputation once established.
Services and agencies also have a larger pool of talent and resources to complete your work. We all know life happens, and if something unexpected pops up for your freelancer, you may be left stranded with nothing to show for your contract. With a service, there are other people to take over, and supervisors on-site to make sure the work is being done well and in a timely fashion.
To learn more on this, read our page comparing the pros and cons of Vendasta’s Marketing Services, a full-service, white-label digital agency, with those of Upwork freelancers.
2. What are your expectations?
Establishing expectations is one of the most important elements of ensuring a smooth outsourcing experience. Be sure to set expectations for:
- Communication: How often do you want updates? Who will they be communicating with on your team?
- Timeline: How long do you expect this to take? How much wiggle room is there?
- Depth of work: What is the output you’re expecting? As specific as possible, how many pages/words/designs are you expecting?
- Resources: What are you willing to provide to help get the work done? In most cases, the freelancer will not require anything from you, but in some situations you may have resources that will help them get the job done quicker, and more inline with your standards. For example, this may include access to templates or programs you’ve used in the past to achieve the look you want.
- Design: Everyone has their own style and preferences. Depending on the job you’re having done, include visual examples of what you like AND what you don’t, and/or user experiences you appreciate and those you find clunky.
3. How are you keeping on top of progress?
Be sure you have a designated common platform for communicating with your hire. If your team uses Slack or some other communication platform, add the person to your channels. If you communicate through gmail, Google hangouts, and chat, then make sure you’re both set up well for that.
It’s also good to divide your project into smaller steps that you can set mutual deadlines for and check in on. Keeping tabs on work and preventing it from all happening the night before your deadline makes sure that you have time to adjust anything that isn’t happening according to your liking. The ultimate product and process will then be one that you’re both satisfied with.
How do you outsource web design and web development?
It’s more or less impossible to build a business these days without a decent web presence, but obviously it doesn’t make sense for every mom-and-pop shop to have a web developer on their employee roster. For this reason, there are many web developers that specialize in working on a contract-by-contract basis, and there are several options for outsourcing web design and development.
As with all business decisions, it’s important to do your research first. If there are small businesses and agencies in your area that have great websites, get in touch and ask them who they used and if they would recommend them. Compare prices with other services and freelancers on the internet to make sure you’re cutting a fair deal. And finally, read online reviews and check out examples of previous work, especially if you’re hiring an unknown.
Another route is the DIWM option, or “Do It With Me”. This is when you choose a website building tool that allows you to easily customize your work from a wide variety of professionally designed and tested templates. While the most well-known tools for this are probably Wix, Weebly, and Shopify, Vendasta’s Marketplace boasts a number of these tools, and uniquely includes on-site support staff that can walk through the process with you and even do some (or all) of the work for you, if you prefer. Talk to our team to learn more.
Even better, Vendasta allows you to resell these tools to your clients. With Vendasta, you can be the one-stop-shop that fulfills all your customers’ digital needs. Learn more about how to sell these tools here.
Web design and development doesn’t have to be intimidating. There’s an abundance of great options for working with experienced professionals with the skills to make you and your clients look great and pull in more business online. And with the knowledge and tools suggested above, rest assured that you are well equipped to make the best decision for you, your business, and your clients.