Outsourcing web development: a complete guide for your business

Outsourcing web development: a complete guide for your business
Gary Culverhouse
Gary Culverhouse
    9 minute read

The internet is awash with company websites - over a billion of them in fact. Having a strong online presence is non-negotiable for businesses today, and your website needs to help your business stand out amongst all the others. Creating an attractive, interactive website that effectively raises awareness of your brand and drives traffic to your business requires the skills of an experienced web developer.

Unfortunately, as a result of high demand, there is a global shortage of talented web developers, which has driven up the cost of available labour. As a result, businesses of all sizes are increasingly turning to outsourcing to have their web development needs met at an affordable price. Even Fortune 500 companies such as Apple and American Express outsource their web development in order to tap into the best talent from across the globe.

Read on to learn more about what outsourcing web development actually means, how it can help your business, and how to go about it.

Current state of the web development market

Web development is one of the most popular and rapidly growing industries in the world, and even the COVID-19 pandemic has not dampened growth. On the contrary, demand for web developers has increased in many markets as eCommerce sales explode, businesses transition to online-only operations, and organisations become more reliant on digital tools to enable them to operate remotely. Web developers are currently in particularly high demand in sectors such as eCommerce, media and entertainment, healthcare, online banking and remote education as we adapt to a more socially distant world.

In the U.S., employment of web developers and digital designers is projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 20291, much faster than the average for other occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand will be driven by the continued popularity of mobile devices and eCommerce. In Australia, the number of people working as web developers grew strongly from 7,100 in 2011 to 8,600 in 2016. Web development is now one of the most in-demand roles2 with Australian businesses struggling to fill these positions.

The ongoing demand for web developers has far outstripped the availability of skilled labour across the world. Prior to COVID-19, the skills shortage in the global IT arena was near an all-time high, and has only dropped marginally since, according to KPMG.

What is web development outsourcing?

Web developers are needed to build and customise online stores, blogs, news portals, gaming and informational websites. They also develop social media platforms and apps, mobile applications and content management systems. Web development outsourcing is when a business engages a third party to complete these functions, rather than doing them in-house. Sometimes the third party is located overseas, in a country such as the Philippines.

Web development - as with other IT functions - lends itself very well to remote work, as there is no need for it to be completed on site. Information technology outsourcing is very common, and makes up the largest share of the overall outsourcing industry. According to Statista, the annual global revenue from information technology outsourcing was around $US66.5 billion in 20193.

Why outsource your web development?

Many companies outsource their web development in order to allow their permanent staff to focus on core business functions, to increase the scalability of their business, or because their current employees lack the necessary skills and knowledge. There are many reasons why businesses might choose to outsource their web development. While reducing costs is a major advantage of outsourcing, there is much more to it than that - it can be an efficient way to streamline a business, or enable access to capabilities that are not available internally. 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits in more detail.

Reduce costs

Hiring skilled web developers is costly, particularly given the global skills shortage. Top notch developers are in high demand and therefore command a premium rate. The recruitment and onboarding process takes time and money, and the required software and hardware can be expensive to purchase. An in-house team will also need to engage in ongoing training to keep abreast of new developments in the field.

On the other hand, outsourcing your web development function to an offshore individual or team that already has the required skills and tools can save you up to 70%.

Access a broader talent pool

Outsourcing allows you to access a much broader pool of talent than if you were to fill a position locally. Your web development team can be sourced from anywhere across the globe - increasing the chance of finding staff with the skills and attributes your business needs. This is particularly advantageous for businesses in locations in which there is a lot of competition for talent, or for those outside of large cities, where employees with the necessary skills may be in short supply. The web developers offered by outsourcing providers will be experts in their field who are up to date with all the latest trends, techniques and technologies.

Speed up development time

An experienced development team who already possess the required skills will be able to hit the ground running and get to work on your project immediately. They will have access to all the necessary tools to complete the job, and with only your project to focus on, will be able to get it done quickly and efficiently.

24/7 support

A good outsourced team will also be available to support you 24 hours a day, seven days a week - should that be a requirement for your business. If you outsource overseas, having a team located in a different time zone means they will be operating and contactable outside of the hours an in-house team in your home country would be.

Increase flexibility and scalability

Outsourcing allows you to quickly and easily grow or reduce your team according to your needs. For example, if you require a web designer and developer to build your website, but then only a database administrator once it is built, outsourcing will allow you to add and remove team members depending on which skills your business needs at the time.

Better security

Security of customer data, privacy and information is a key concern of firms considering outsourcing. If you choose the right outsourcing model, the level of data security provided can actually be much higher than you would find in your home country. In common offshoring locations such as the Philippines, your business can easily access services with world leading security protocols and infrastructure by working with a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partner. The best BPOs will offer things like external entrance security, swipe cards or biometric devices for main operations area access, strong mobile phone and personal device protocols for staff, disabling of USB ports on all computers, and single sign-on software for cloud-based programs.

On the other hand, if you hire a team of freelancers or staff who work from home, data security and privacy protection can be hard to manage due to lack of control over the operating space, and the tools and equipment used. The physical location may be insecure, and computers may not be adequately protected against viruses or threats, or secured against data theft.

Which roles can be outsourced?

Any or all of your web development roles may be outsourced. If you don’t have a local web development team, you may choose to outsource all of these roles; even if you do have a team on site, you may choose to outsource some of the more repetitive technical tasks, freeing up your onshore web development team to focus on higher value work.

Technical tasks are particularly well-suited to being outsourced as they are repetitive and rules-based. Many firms may choose to outsource technical or implementation roles, but hire a dedicated on-site project manager to oversee the outsourced web development projects. The project manager takes care of task management, planning project timelines, allocating project resources, monitoring task completion and communicating to stakeholders, while the outsourced team gets on with the actual web development. If you prefer, you can also outsource a project manager to oversee your project.

Roles that can be easily outsourced include:

  • .NET developers: .NET framework is a software developed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows. .NET developers are responsible for creating, developing and implementing software applications for an organisation’s project and internal requirements. They also look after system analysis and develop appropriate system responses to troubleshoot and fix issues.
  • Database administration: A database administrator is responsible for the control and maintenance of an organisation’s database management systems. They plan, design and develop database management systems (DMS) that meet user requirements.
  • Java developers: Java is an object oriented programming language created for web development, android development and applications. A Java developer is responsible for design, implementation and management of Java-based programs and applications. They collaborate within a web development team to incorporate Java into business software and websites.
  • PHP developers: PHP is a general purpose scripting language well suited for web development and web design. A PHP developer is essentially a software developer who specialises in designing software and writing server-side web application logic using the PHP programming language.
  • Web designers: A web designer is responsible for designing the layout, usability and visual appearance of a website. Their role encompasses web design elements from graphic design and user interface design, to user experience and search engine optimisation.
  • Web developers: A web developer is responsible for the development of websites and web applications. They are essentially software developers who focus on web-based content development. Developers use programming languages to tell websites how they should function.
  • WordPress developers: A WordPress developer is responsible for front-end and back-end development of WordPress, an open-source content management system. They design and create custom plugins and modules for the system as functionally required by organisations.

How much does it cost to outsource web development?

When it comes to outsourcing web development, the cost can vary significantly based on several factors:
  • Requirements: The complexity, customisation needs and scale of the website influence the overall cost.
  • Provider: Different outsourcing providers have varying rates based on their expertise, location and reputation.
  • Experience and skill set: The level of experience and specific skill set required for your project can affect the pricing
  • Project timeline: Urgency and rushed projects often come with higher price tags.
  • Geographical location: Rates can differ significantly between regions due to varying living costs and wage expectations.

How to choose an outsourcing provider

  1. Define a clear set of goals
    Before you even begin to look for an outsourcing provider to take on your web development, it’s important to define a clear set of goals for your project. Create a general description of your web project, write down your business and technical objectives, and decide on a budget. It is also a good idea to compile a list of questions to ask prospective outsourcing team.

  2. Consider provider experience and credibility
    When it comes to choosing a provider, look for information regarding experience and portfolios, tech specialisation and capabilities, and any reviews provided by clients. Ask about their internal software development processes (methodologies used, quality assurance, bug fixing processes) and request code and design samples.

  3. Establish key channels of communication
    Good communication between your business and your outsourcing team is one of the keys to the success of your project, so make sure you are comfortable with your provider’s mode of communication, expected frequency of communication, response times and how easy they are to contact (especially considering time zone differences). Having access to a local representative can make it easier to communicate with your outsourcing team and discuss any issues as they arise. The best outsourcing providers can allocate a project manager to oversee the work being done on your project, provide regular updates and act as a key point of contact.

  4. Ensure culture compatibility
    Look for an outsourcing partner who is willing to adapt to your company ethics and culture. If your offshore developers can easily integrate into your company and feel connected to the in-house team, your web projects should come off seamlessly.

  5. Double check data security measures
    Consider their reputation, certifications, encryption protocols, access controls, disaster recovery plans, physical and digital security infrastructure, incident response procedures, breach notification processes and contractual obligations. Transparent communication and auditing rights are also important

If you’d like to learn more about how to choose an outsourcing partner for your web development and other tech functions, download our free eBook, 36 Questions to Ask Your Tech Services Outsourcing Provider.

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