This article is an advisory for anyone seeking a web developer.
In looking through various online listings, we have noticed two disturbing trends: companies or individuals expecting to pay a ridiculously small amount for web development work, and so-called web developers who operate on the low end of the scale, undercutting everyone else. Both trends make it clear that there is a cheapening of the entire web development industry. We are not speaking on behalf of ourselves, but of all web developers who have trained and worked for years to acquire the skills and talents to create the sites that we do.
Those “lowball” developers out there are giving our industry a bad name. While we do support those who are learning web development and need to start someplace, there are others out there who will work for nickels and dimes just to get any scrap of business that they can. Do they have the talent?
Think about it. If they did have the talent they claim, they could command the going rates for their services. There is no black magic or mystery to what we do: those of us who have been in the industry for a decade or more treat every day and every project as a learning experience! We make our living off of the knowledge we’ve acquired over the years. Will these fly-by-night lowball developers be there tomorrow when your site needs updating, or develops a problem?
There are also many amateurs flooding the online listings in recent years. Just because someone has set up a rudimentary site using FrontPage and hosts it on GoDaddy does not make them a web professional. Yes, you may get a “pretty” site. But will it do anything for you or your business? Ask that person how they handle search engine optimization and advertising. Ask them what they can do when your site grows–will you need custom programming to handle increasing volumes of data, or custom applications installed to make the site truly useful to your business? Or will you need to move to a bigger server or a better host? Ask them what programming languages they know, and get prepared for that blank stare. A true professional charges a higher rate, but ten hours of an amateur messing around with limited development skills would take a pro the equivalent of an hour or two.
The worst disease infecting our industry (and our economy) is the “offshoring” of our talent to third world countries, where so-called “developers” (and we use the term loosely) will work for a fraction of the price. The language barrier is but one of many problems you will have by going overseas–how can you communicate with anyone who has a poor grasp on basic language skills? And again, can you ensure this person or company, thousands of miles away, is going to be there when you need them? Wouldn’t you feel better keeping your money in the U.S.?
Thanks to these lowball and offshore developers, there are now companies and individuals out there seeking bids on potential web projects. We have seen some bid requests that are laughably low. Let’s get serious! Do you expect any of us to develop an entire site for you, for $100? Most seasoned, professional developers bill at a rate anywhere from $25 to $75 per hour, depending on areas of expertise (HTML coding, graphics, programming, etc.). However, we also work fast, and bill our time fairly. So even if an hourly rate seems expensive, you are getting a lot of “production” for that rate.
When we bill you out at these rates, we realize you are paying a premium for our services, but this is because we are confident in the sites we develop. We will be there for support, future updates, and other service after the job is complete. We are easy to reach, and ready to accomodate any requests you may have. Take pride in knowing that you have not chosen a service, but a partner in maintaining your web presence and helping you enhance your bottom line.