There is always a very real temptation to look overseas to get a great website developed affordably, there is only one problem, the websites developed overseas are usually not that great. So when should you go overseas and what are the risks?
There is one main driving factor for companies going overseas to develop their website and that is budget. To capitalise on this there is a new web development company popping up in these countries with lower labour costs every single day. This is not necessarily a bad thing and you can sometimes find incredible developers overseas for great prices, however, you have to be incredibly careful. Going overseas can often be like going to the wild west of website development. It is impossible to navigate what is real and what is fake. This means at face value a developer can look incredible, however, in reality, their websites are not at all what they seem.
In essence, the hardest part about going overseas is knowing whether the developers are well equipped to produce the work you need. Normally you can decipher someone's expertise through a quick conversation however, a language barrier can make this usually simple process incredibly difficult as it is impossible to decipher a lack of expertise from the language barriers. To get around this, you might try talking to friends and families to see if they have used any overseas developers and ask them about their experience. If you find friends or family who has had a good experience go through their website and take note of the speed and feel. You can also try searching for their business name on search engines. If the website shows up as one of the first results this is a good sign that the search engine approves of the website, if it doesn't then this is probably a sign that there are some fundamental errors with how the website has been created.
Here we will break down the factors that will help you determine the risks vs the rewards of going overseas. It can be a great option and is definitely worth considering, however, you should proceed cautiously.
The time difference can be both a positive and a negative thing. It can delay communication as your workdays will differ from their workdays. This can also make meetings a little bit more difficult to organise. Additionally, if something does go wrong with your website just after launch, then there can be delays in getting into contact with your web developers and communicating the issue. The perfect of time differences is that a midnight launch is easier and more affordable to organise. Given midnight will often be at a more reasonable time overseas you can effectively transition your website at low traffic times with ease.
As mentioned above, communication can be a little more challenging with some overseas developers who have incredible skills but struggle with English. This can however be a good sign if they are continually performing work overseas and it isn't because of their communication this might be a sign that they are skilled at what they do. Sometimes you will also come across companies who have both those who are incredible at developing and those who are great at communicating which will allow you to almost completely overcome this language barrier.
For large scale projects, the cost savings can be quite significant. Instead of paying into the $20-50 thousand range, you can often find an overseas developer who will do it for less than $10 thousand. Hence, for these larger projects the risk is slightly large however, the savings may outway any of the risks. It is however common that builds of this performed overseas will require outside auditing to ensure everything is working as it should which is an additional cost you should consider. For smaller websites we would recommend staying away from any developers who offer to create your website for less than $3000, this is because at this price point the problems encountered far outweigh the benefits. These sites are often uneditable meaning you need to return to developers every time you would like to change even a single word, they are also commonly slow and have various issues. The costs of maintaining a site at this price point add up over time, so in reality, over time you still end up spending $5-7 thousand over time.
Around the $6000 mark for a basic 6-10 page website, you will get a good end product. It won't be the fastest, most unique or special website. However, it is more than likely going to be sufficient for businesses starting out. You will be able to run adverts to it, you will also gain some SEO and you will have a website that you can send to customers. What you can't expect is outstanding SEO results, if this is important you might need to consider spending a little more time researching the previous work of developers and trying to understand the website below its face value.
SEO is one of the hardest things to evaluate when choosing a developer. Every developer will claim to create SEO ready website, however, without a deep understanding of the industry, it is almost impossible for an outsider to tell the difference between great SEO and good SEO, this is also an area where corners can be cut to build a cheaper website. When you are not concerned about website speed and optimisation, you can neglect the structure of the data that is passed to search engines and write sloppy code. At face value the two websites can look the same, however, the way they work and are structured are completely different. For example, you can build two buildings that look the exact same, except one uses cheaper materials to lower costs, whilst the other uses expensive materials it is clear that one will be more soundproof, more insulated and will last a lot longer. Hence unless you are a structural engineer you will likely not see these problems at first. Of course, the corners cut in construction will become obvious over time. Hiring a cheap vs expensive web developer is much the same as this, the corners cut during the construction of your website will begin to become clear over time. Hence, this could potentially be a risk if you are hoping to gain customers by dominating search engines.
Often when we are asked by our clients to fix their website from overseas, we end up spending almost as much time fixing the issues and transition the website to a better hosting platform as it would have taken us to simply create an outstanding website. Additionally, there is only so much you can do to repair a building that is built on a foundation of mud.
Just like SEO, security is difficult to assess without a deep understanding of how a website works, how information should be protected and what to look for to check if the website is secure. About 1 in 2 companies that come to us to repair their existing websites have serious security flaws within their website. These security flaws range from viruses being installed on the website which will only affect SEO, to a blatant lack of security that makes customer information available to the world. Hence, security is a very real risk when going overseas and if your website houses sensitive information you will likely need to organise a security audit.
This is a key consideration when going overseas, ask yourself do you need to update content? If you are an older business and your structure and offerings hasn't changed in years this might not be as important for you. However, if you are a young business and you are still evolving this is a key consideration. We often see newer businesses pivot several times before finding exactly where they fit into the market, whether it be their pricing, services or style. The good news this is something that is easy to check, simply ask your developer if they could show you how you will be able to edit your website before you commit. If they take you through their system and you can understand everything, it doesn't require code and you can update everything you need too then you are good to go. If not, you will likely want to stay away.
You may have noticed that many of these risks are negated by having a knowledgeable middle man. Hence, if you have an expert who can identify a good overseas developer and identify/fix anything that isn't quite right with the work then you can gain almost all the rewards of going overseas without any of the risks. Of course, there will be a small cut out of the amount you pay for having the middle man involved, however, you could potentially be saving thousands.
This is another common report we come across from our clients. Their overseas developer often do exactly what is asked of them. This is of course great if you know what to ask for. However, if you don't know everything you need on your website such as connecting it to a search console, setting up analytics or numerous other background tasks that allow you to get the most out of your website do not expect your overseas web developer to do this.
Whilst the answer to this question will differ depending on what you are trying to achieve with your website, our experience has given us a clear answer. Whilst this answer is probably biased as we only see the portion of people who come to us to fix their websites, however, our answer is no, the risks are not worth the savings. Despite these savings, you will almost always end up paying the amount you save on fixing your website over time. Additionally, the damaged a bad security flaw can do to your SEO can take significant time to overcome.
In the end, there are clear benefits to going overseas for your developers, with the right knowledge you can do so whilst also minimising your risks. However, the less knowledge you have the greater the risks become.