So how does someone, who is perhaps not a professional project manager or technically minded, chose from the dizzying array of freelances, agencies, development companies and yes, scam artists? For first timers, it is probably safest to use a Web site dedicated to linking customers with Web development companies, such as eLance or Desk. These sites offer a certain amount of protection for the customer as they may hold funds in escrow for you until agreed milestones are reached as well as ensure that both parties sign up to contracts for legal protection.
The alternative is to chose your development resource yourself, which requires careful research. Most people will start by searching on Google but just because a business is ranked highly, it doesn’t mean they will do a good job for you at the right price. You should study their portfolio of work, and ideally make contact with past customers without having to ask the web developer for references (they’ll only choose customers they are “friendly” with). You need to identify several potential outsourcing partners and then invite them to quote for the work.
Before asking for a quotation, you must spend an adequate amount of time writing down your Web site’s requirements and specification. Find sites which have functionality you want, so you can give examples. Be as specific as possible! The more time you spend on the requirements, the more time will be saved during the development process. It will also help prevent companies over or under-quoting for your project.
Once you receive the quotes, you will probably discover a very wide range of pricing. Some companies will spend just 5 minutes thinking about your Web site project and that will reveal itself in the proposal they send through. No matter how good your specification/requirements document, a good developer will always ask questions and request some clarifications. This is a good sign and does not mean they are not technically capable. The greatest challenge working with someone remotely is ensuring you understand each other properly.
Hopefully you will quickly have an idea of the most proficient companies so you can then consider the pricing, quality of work and speed of development. Many people have opted for the cheapest quotation, only to be frustrated with an extended development cycle.
If you attribute a cost for a delayed project, usually going for the cheaper Web developer is a false economy.