What do you do if your website functionality is too complicated to use a ready made builder, such as WordPress, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace?
This is where it gets a little bit complicated, because there is a realm of different options you can take. You can hire freelancers in America, you can hire freelancers overseas, you can hire expensive agencies in America, and no matter what your budget is, this is a difficult process.
Get a Co-Founder With Technical Skills
The best way to go, and surprisingly the hardest, is to get a cofounder: a technical person who is in charge of building your website.
Now this is much easier said than done. Convincing a technical person of your vision is extremely difficult, and then convincing them that they need you is also difficult. But if you can get a technical person on your team, no one can build it better.
The next question that people usually ask is what kind of technical person should I look for? And the answer is: whatever you can get. Like I said before, it’s very difficult to convince technical people to join your team. If you can convince somebody that your idea is awesome and you can get them excited to work on it, whatever technology they want to use, that’s what you should use to build your product.
Outsourcing Rarely Works
Now what do you do if you can’t convince a technical person to join your team? One option is outsourcing overseas, and I rarely recommend this option.
I’ve never seen outsourcing overseas work for a start up when there’s not actually a technical member in that startup. Its a classic Catch-22 – you need a technical person here to help manage the overseas people, but if you have a technical person here you don’t necessarily need to hire the overseas people.
So I can never recommend outsourcing overseas unless you have the technical talent on your team.
Agencies Are Expensive but High Quality
So you’ve decided against outsourcing overseas, what’s another option? Well you can hire a web development agency in the United States.
These companies, however, are very expensive. They start in the low tens of thousands of dollars, but can quickly escalate into the high hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t recommend going with these people because you are always going to end up spending more than you think. That being said, there is no way to get a higher quality product built than a web development agency.
Freelancers Are Cheaper but Less Predictable
So, you’re not comfortable outsourcing overseas and you can’t afford a big web agency in America. So what’s another option? A lot of startups, in fact I would say most startups that I know, tend to use freelancers before they get any funding.
The issue with the freelancer is that you are beholden to a person. You don’t necessarily know what you’re getting, and a talented freelancer is not the most easy thing to come by. There are costs and benefits with each option. Freelancers happen to be the one option where the budget makes sense for startups. And if you find a great one, you’re golden.
So let’s say you decide on a freelancer. What kind of freelancer should you be looking for? What technologies should they know? If you decide on a freelancer, you trust them, they’re giving you a fair price, and they beat out all the other competition that you’ve looked at, take their word for the technology that they’re using.
It’s so hard to find people that you trust, that once you’ve made that decision go with that person. But if you haven’t found someone you trust yet, there are three technologies that I love that are great for startups: Ruby on Rails, Python with Django or Flask, and Node.js. These are development technologies that make building prototypes and building your product much quicker and much simpler than other things out there. Any one of these three is going to make it easier for you to develop quickly.
About Phillip Greenwald
Phil Greenwald is the founder and CEO of Code Undercover, a company that teaches people how to code by building their product ideas with them. Whether this means teaching about servers, user experience design, or basic app development, Code Undercover empower innovators to build their own minimum viable product by teaching them one-on-one how to code it.
Phil has lectured on coding at Boston College, Tufts, MassChallenge, Harvard Business School, and teaches regularly at the Harvard Innovation lab on web and mobile App development.