Pros & Cons of Outsourcing Web Development

The Elevate Team
The Elevate Team

If your e-commerce website is in need of a redesign or even a replatform and you don’t have the in-house resources to do it yourself, you may consider defaulting to a common option: outsourcing the work to an external development team.

Outsourcing can often give you quicker turnarounds and more affordable prices than conducting the redesign in-house. So why wouldn’t you work with an external development company?

In this blog, we outline the pros and cons of outsourcing your web development and equip you with five essential tips to finding the right team for your business. Lastly, we show you why an external development team is not your only option — and why sometimes, it might be better to expand your search.

Pros of External Development Teams vs In-House

There are certainly benefits to outsourcing the development for your e-commerce site redesign. They include:

Quicker Turnaround

External development teams sometimes offer quicker turnaround times than you’d be able to achieve in-house, which can be useful if you’re on a tight timeline.

Higher Cost Effectiveness

Outsourcing your web development needs can result in a substantially lower total cost — something to keep in mind if you’re working with a tight budget. Since external development services often turn to offshore teams, they’re able to offer their services for an extremely competitive price.

Access to Global Talent

Opting to work with an external development team also means being able to source from and work with a broader pool of talent. Depending on who you enlist, you may find that you’re working with developers from around the world.

Simple Execution

If you have a clear vision and design, an external development team will help you bring that vision to life. They’ll be able to execute against a clear direction and a focused scope of work in what will likely be a straightforward engagement.

Cons of External Development Teams

Though some of the benefits listed above may be persuasive, don’t overlook some of the negative aspects of working with an external web development team.

Offshored Development Needs

Unfortunately, many external development companies outsource to third-party (and often offshore) developers. This can represent a substantial red flag — your website is not in the hands that you thought it was but, rather, being passed on to a team you haven’t vetted yourself. Plus, it may mean that inexperienced developers are tasked with building out your site or that your project is riddled with miscommunications.

Poorer Code Quality

Poorer code quality can drive maintenance costs up, be detrimental to your website’s performance and, in the long run, damage your brand. If your external development team outsources to an offshore developer, you may find that they deliver your site with substandard code, having cut corners using bad programming practices in order to turn around deliverables faster. As a result, you can be left with a painfully slow website, riddled with visual defects, and even potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks.

More Hand Holding

You may find that you need to offer more hand holding to get your project to completion with an external development company. Whether they lack well-rounded expertise or crucial experience, you may find that you’re giving more time than anticipated to guide the developers towards the result you are looking for (and stealing away your valuable time).

Additionally, if you don’t have a design background and are seeking more of a collaborative creative process, the likelihood is that a web developer won’t be able to bring a well-trained design eye to the table to help solve those complex visual and brand challenges..

No Comprehensive Service

A web development company specializes in building you a website — and that’s it. If you’re looking for someone to work with you on other aspects related to your site like design and UX, branding, photography, copywriting, or even SEO, you should consider a full-stack design and development agency instead.

Five Questions to Ask Your External Development Team

When you are looking to work with an external development team, it is critical that you gain an understanding of their experience, the way they work, and whether their operation aligns with what you are looking for. Here are five questions you can ask to get a clearer picture:

  • What is their experience with similar projects?

    You should start by asking about their experience working on similar projects with comparable clients, ideally in the same or closely related industry. They may have a portfolio on their website, but beyond that, dig into project successes. Did they meet the timeline and budget? Did it launch on time? How did the website hold up at launch?

  • How do budget, timeline, and deliverables work?

    It’s absolutely essential to clearly outline your budget, your ideal timeline, and the key deliverables during initial discussions:

    • Clearly communicate your budget and their quotes
    • Ensure you have a clear understanding of how they structure their pricing
    • Lay out a realistic timeline that aligns with your deadlines and with their bandwidth
    • Pinpoint key deliverables and where they sit on your timeline

    These are all key considerations when communicating your scope of work and before receiving a proposal. But it’s also a good idea to regularly revisit these points throughout the kick off process. It is also good practice to ask how the company will account for unforeseen changes of plan. How do they handle change requests?

  • What is their working process? What are their internal & external workflows?

    Before you commit to working with an external development team, you should ensure that your respective working patterns and workflows can integrate seamlessly. Establishing key communication channels and expectations is good practice to ensure that open lines are maintained.

    Understand how your internal teams can work with the external company, for starters. Do so with your marketing team for copy and branding, your design team for design, and your internal development team for code transfer.

    You also need to gain an understanding of the tools they will use to bring your vision to life, which coding language they’ll work in, and how they’ll work in compliance with your best practices and guidelines.

  • What is their QA process? And how do they ensure code quality?

    To understand the quality control mechanisms they have in place, you should ask about their QA processes (quality assurance). You should also ask them to explain how they guarantee the quality of the code and how they carry out critical testing and when.

  • What does post-launch support look like?

    The work doesn’t end once your website is live. In fact, its life has only just begun. That’s why it’s so important to see what support your potential external development team offers for bug fixes and maintenance.

Alternatives to an External Development Team

If you’re looking to outsource your web development, an external development team isn’t the only option — or even the best one, per se. Although there are budgetary considerations in play, it’s more than worth considering a unified full service design and development agency like Elevate.

Why? Because we offer a holistic approach to website design and development. We understand that your website is one of the most important parts of your e-commerce business, which is why we provide core services such as digital strategy, branding, user experience and visual design, SEO, and digital marketing — in addition to development. You’ll also be working with our specialized experts who invest in you for the long-term rather than approaching your project as a one-time transaction.

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