So, you want to hire a web developer but, now you’re faced with a choice. Should you go ahead and hire a freelancer, or get a web development company to make your site instead?
It’s important for you to have a clear idea of what you want your site to do and to be, because that will help you decide which to go for as both have advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider before you commit to either. I suppose it’s like the difference between going to the supermarket or your local grocers (I’ll explain more down below).
- Direct communication
- Take longer to complete a project
- May lose focus/interest
- Wide range of services
- Team of specialists
- More expensive
- Communication may be poor
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Like the supermarket a web development company will be big, have lots of staff with each assigned to fulfil a specific role and as such will have a lot of options for you to choose from, but also a bit impersonal. They’ll usually be using the latest technologies always keeping up to date as they have the finance and rotational manpower to keep their staff trained while still working on multiple projects. This can be advantageous as sites can become outdated, and if old technology is being used to create the site, it will only age that much faster.
Because you’ll have a team of people working on your project, these will all be specialists in their field. Depending on the size of your project, this can bring down the time of completing it considerably compared to a freelancer.
However, one major issue is cost. Hiring a company will cost significantly more than a freelancer as that team will have costs such as salaries, office space, software licencing fees, supplementary staff such as HR, Reception, etc. Communication can also be an issue as you may not always get a direct line to your project leader (e.g. you may have to go through reception, or God-forbid, a call centre).
Now one final thing to consider is the size of your project. If the project is a big one, and time is an issue, hiring a company may be the sound choice as they’ll have the resources and manpower to get the job done.
Freelancers are your local grocers; they won’t have the range of services that the supermarket has, but they may specialise (think butcher or fishmonger) and can provide what you want, cheaper. Not to mention organic and locally sourced. Ok, not so much the last part. But, being cheaper is correct. Since you’ll be dealing with an individual the costs will be substantially lower. What’s more you’ll have a direct line of communication with your freelancer compared to a company.
You’ll also find that many freelancers end up specialising in a particular area. They may specialise in server-side scripting or cater exclusively to restaurants. This means if you have a specific job in mind, choosing a freelance may be the right call.
Now navigating the freelancer space can be overwhelming as there are many out there who offer their services at wildly different prices. There can also be issues with some not making their deadlines, which can be doubly painful if paying an hourly rate, or taking on too many projects at once, neglecting yours. Personality clashes after the initial hire may creep up or maybe an accident has occurred, so, compared to a company, can’t be replaced so easily with another developer without having to start the hiring process (and by extension your project) over again. This makes it necessary to have a plan B should something go wrong.
But, if you have time, budgetary concerns or want personal contact with the person you’re hiring, the freelancer route could be the way to go.
There is one final area that can be considered and that’s Web Agencies. They provide a middleman service where you provide the criteria and they find the freelancers for you. When thinking about issues with communication, sometimes it helps to have a translator of sorts that can bridge the gap between client and freelancer. They can take the hassle out of finding a freelancer yourself (though, of course, will charge a fee for the privilege). And if things go wrong, they can help smooth out the situation for you (such as finding a more adequate replacement freelancer).
Whichever route you decide to go for be sure to take the time to shop around, and just because you go one route doesn’t mean you can’t switch later on down the line.