Let’s all assume that you have decided on your startup’s name and you’re finally on track to designing and developing your first website. If you haven’t decided on your business’s name, please make sure to check some tips on how to name your company here.
For those fortunate enough to follow my tips please welcome to part 2 “Tips before designing your first website”. In this article I would like to raise an important issue in the lifetime of a website: Who will design and develop your first website? A freelancer? A web design company? A full-time employee?
Freelancers or independent contractors are very flexible when it comes to scheduling meetings with you. They are also flexible with their timetable, therefore they can meet your expectations when it comes to deadlines. On the other hand, a number of freelancers may work full time jobs and do other projects on the same time, consequently your project may get lost between others. The biggest problem with freelancers is their payment. Independent contractors work for cash and as a consequence your short-term cash flow will be affected. The problem arises when freelancers invoice their work by the time they have devoted to the creation of your website and not its quality. Freelancers sometimes drop prices too much to get the project, and usually present additional costs to the client half-way through the project. What you can do to avoid overpaying for the result, is to be crystal clear about your expectations from the very beginning. Make sure to answer as many questions as possible prior to your first meeting. You could provide a draft document with a clear explanation of your requirements and the ideal timeframe of your plan. After you have established your plan, it would be ideal to get a fixed contract. This will help you ensure that you will pay for the results you asked for and not the time spent building them. When you start developing, check regularly with your contractor in order to avoid any previous misunderstanding. Another disadvantage of independent contractors is the lack of a full service approach. Who is going to create the graphics? Who is going to set up the server? Who is going to take care of your additional digital needs? Be very carefully in choosing a developer, since that might possibly mean that you can find yourself in a disadvantageous position.
The full-time employee
If your product needs long-term support digitally, it is preferable to hire a full-time programmer. First of all, a full-time employee will devote his time and quality of work to you and most probably will share a common interest in your company/start-up. Therefore, he/she will try their best to create something as valuable to them, to you too. The problem with hiring a full-time employee is the long-term cost, since a new employee is a big investment. If your company is in its early stages, this means any new team member is critical. Therefore, your hiring process should be very specific to find a person who will be culturally compatible with you and very talented.
The web development company
An established web development company will have similar benefits as the individual contractors, but hopefully the result will have a higher quality, since the company follows industry’s best practises. In addition, web development companies have individual project managers who regularly update the clients, making sure everything runs based on the terms of your contract. Between the three options, a web development company is the most expensive, but be reminded that you are paying for a premium service, with lots of past projects and experience. If you can afford a complete service from a web development company make sure you do enough market research. It would also be advisable to create a cost-benefit analysis document to compare each company , their costs and past projects prior to deciding.
Whether you decide that an individual contractor or a web development company is better than hiring a full-time employee, make sure that you are ready, and have your expectations well documented. Cash and time resources are also critical to be available for your first website. Think of it as a self-awareness process, where you will think of the vision of your company, how a website can help in this vision, how you want this website to be and how much you will be willing to pay for this website. Once you have made up your mind, start your research and decide what is best for you and your company/start-up.
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