In-House or Outsourced Web Development: Which is Better? 

There’s so much debate about which is better, between hiring in-house developers and outsourcing web development. Some business owners say that they find hiring in-house developers better than getting help from outside the company. But others think differently. This issue has left some small business owners in a quandary which can roadblock operations and threaten ROI.

in-house or outsource web developmentWhile there are many business owners raving about the benefits out of outsourcing work overseas, others see it differently. Below are significant reasons why some want to get their work done in-house.

The Benefits of Hiring-In-House Developers

  • Buy in and not Bail out: People who work within the company are likely to invest time and energy and may often share in company equity plans. This motivates them to stay as a long-term company asset.
  • Hands-on: In-house developers are aware of the various areas the business engages in and capable of offering possible solutions that an external team may not see.                        
  • Aligned with the Company’s Interests: Normally, a regular employee has a mindset aligned to the company he is working with. This means those employed in-house help in building greater revenues because they know that if the company prospers, they will likewise get their own share of success.                                  
  • Controlled Time, Activity and Quality: The company can take control of all activities, quality, and time of in-house personnel. Some business owners feel that they can cut the cost if they use inside talent as the process of requesting for skilled external resources costs more. There are companies that are blessed with outstanding teams that do not require hiring additional help.

Downsides

  • Cost: In general, in-house developers are more expensive than outsourced developers, often by a factor of two or more.
  • Hiring Woes: It’s hard and takes longer to find qualified outsourced expertise, and the longer you wait, the more frustrated you get.
  • Knowledge: Using in-house developers means building up in-house knowledge and expertise, which can take significant time and efforts.

So why do people outsource web development overseas instead of using those that are within arm’s length? Outsourcing is getting the services of consultants, an agency, or a service provider that can manage some portions of a company’s business.

Reasons for outsourcing vary; it could be cost, capacity, or it may be that the company is looking for specialized skills, special equipment a startup company has, or the business only requires limited, temporary, or seasonal resources.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Web Development

  • Special Skills, Specialized Equipment: The success of online websites depends on graphics design, PPC campaigns, website development, and many others. These require special skills and special equipment that companies outside the web development industry typically don’t have in place. These can be done by outside experts who can be tasked to do, including accounting and human resource management.
  • Scalable Capacity: With outsourcing, you only easily scale your development team to the size needed, improving throughput while streamlining costs.
  • Short-Term Commitment: Infrastructure and website upgrading, as well as graphic design are temporary, seasonal or limited needs. By outsourcing you pay for these services only when they are needed.

You may hire another set of minds with different skillsets when another need arises. Hiring short-term saves you from committing to annual salaries and benefits.

  • Lower Cost: Local developers get paid more than outsourced online workers and this is another reason why many entrepreneurs opt to outsource help. Paying half the cost to outsourced skilled individuals is a welcome idea for those who are just starting up.
  • Good Values through Competition:  With so many outsourcing contractors waiting to be tapped, skilled workers employed in these companies strive hard to outdo the others. This provides assurance to companies looking to hire experts as they would be getting the better if not the best hires to work for their cause.

Downsides

  • Availability: Demand for skilled developers has soared high in the recent years which made experts in this field harder to find. These people are so busy tending to different clients and their availability is scarce.  This calls for being resourceful at choosing service providers to catch up with your deadlines.
  • Language and Cultural Barriers: While there are so many experts from outsourcing companies, there is a great possibility that communication can be difficult. You need time to converse with them on some important aspects but at times, it is difficult to bridge the language gap. You can get help from countries that speak the same language you do.
  • Loss of Knowledge: Using outsourced developers often means knowledge is accrued and maintained outside the organization, and can be substantially lost if there is no relationship with the external development team. What your outsourced workers know cannot be shared with the team, which means lesser internal growth for the company.
  • Ramp up Time: The time between product or software development and capacity utilization may vary due to several reasons. If this happens, there is no control over implementation. So, if an outsourced company cannot deliver on time, expect a delay in your revenues.
  • Management Time: In-house workers can get familiarized with the systems they manage quickly because managing tasks on a personal basis is quite possible. Outsourcing can fail on this area as they do not come face to face with the problems themselves.
  • Greater Risk: Before deciding on outsourcing IT services, running a background check on your shortlisted companies is a good idea. Not all foreign countries have the same security protocols your country has so there is always a risk in terms of private data or intellectual property handling.

Hiring in-house developers has a number of advantages but outsourcing is often a better option for growing companies. While other businesses look at hiring in-house as more ideal, the fact remains that technical expertise and communication skills could break the tie as to what a company really needs.

Have you outsourced some parts of your web development, or other business processes? Do you prefer to have a face-to-face interaction with your employees? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

View User Profile for Brian Conte Brian founded Fast Track with over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience and technology expertise. Brian managed the development of Microsoft's first browser in 1985 and later founded hDC, the first Windows software company. Brian ran hDC, later named Express Systems, for 10 years before selling it to WRQ in 1996, where he remained as CTO. Brian spearheaded the development of one of WRQ's most successful products, Express 2000, which generated more than $10 million in its first year. Brian holds a BSE in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University.
Posted by Brian Conte Friday, September 16, 2016 3:33:00 PM Categories: business partnership content development custom development web development website

7 Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Web Support Team 

web support team

Hiring a remote team of web developers and designers is the norm. Many small to medium online businesses go this route because of two major reasons: cost and efficiency.

Let's face it, not every business owner knows how to develop a website from the ground up. Many of them are just starting to realize the benefits of having an online presence even with a brick-and-mortar store. There are those who are just learning how to use the internet for their businesses –that’s why it’s the perfect opportunity for outsourced web support teams to provide their expert services.

One of the best solutions is to use one or a few of the numerous tools and apps available that allow remote teams to work cohesively.

However, it is the selection process that poses a lot of challenges. If you’re having this dilemma, here are seven qualities that every business owner should look for in an outsourced web support team.

(1) Expertise

In your quest for accelerated business success, it is important to find and partner with a web support team that is backed with years of experience. Since web development, design and optimization are crucial in meeting your business goals, this team should possess professionalism, expert knowledge, and skills. Teams are also expected to be up-to-date and in line with the latest web development and design trends.

(2) Fast turnaround time

Look for outsourced web support teams with short work cycles. This gives both parties the opportunity to take a peak of the website in action. Web support companies usually have outsourced people in different corners of the globe, making it possible to complete web projects in the shortest amount of time.

(3) Range of quality services

Typically for outsourced web development and design teams provide a wide range of skills and expertise. You’ll l find quality web services that include development, design, hosting, quality assurance and testing, site maintenance and audit, support, software design, and business analysis, just to name a few.

(4) Cost-effective rates

A combination of flexible rates and packaged fees are predominant among web support companies. This allows clients from various industries with varying budgets to avail of the services they can afford. If you belong to the small to medium businesses group, there will always be a type of service package that's suitable for your budget.

(5) Flexible options

Another quality that benefits online businesses is the flexibility of web support providers. They offer several options with regards to payment schedule, and team assignment. You can even request for a specific team or individuals to consistently work for you.

(6) Effective communication

Communication is a top priority among remote web support teams since it fosters trust, credibility, and coordination among team members and their respective clients. Good teams utilize all communication channels to support both internal and external needs of clients and their projects. Among the best practices involve proper documentation and relay of information such as project status, time spent, issues and resolutions, among others.

(7) Great customer service

Of course, any company - whether online or offline - should always aim for great customer service. Those handling this department should be able to address both technical and non-technical inquiries of clients, as well as deliver accurate and swift information from web support to client.

Are you looking for a web support team to help drive your online business ahead of the competition?

Fast Track offers a wide range of web services to Fortune 50 companies since 1999. Get in touch with us and let's begin this journey.

View User Profile for Shirish Sharma Shirish Sharma is a Project and Account Manager for Fast Track, Seattle, handling multiple Microsoft accounts. Shirish is a proactive, energetic, detail-oriented and versatile technical project manager with more than ten years' experience. He has successfully delivered high-quality Microsoft projects and has vast experience in software development life cycle. He holds a B.E. in Computer Technology from Nagpur University in Nagpur, India and a PG Diploma in Advanced Computing from the CDAC (Infoway Technologies) in Pune, India. Follow Shirish on Twitter as @ShirishTweets.

Creating Better Converting Landing Pages 

creating better converting landing pages

When designing landing pages, there are a couple key challenges that you’ll face when optimizing your pages for the highest possible conversions. First, you’ll face various visitors from difference sources, whether through paid, social or email campaigns.  Remember to use the same language used in the campaign.  Visitors see this as “message match”, and this helps to develop trust with the customer and eventually convert them.

People who visit your landing pages need to be persuaded to purchase through the use of targeted messaging.  But with all of the different visitors, campaigns and locations, how can you set up landing pages specific to all of different targets?  They key is to generally define audience ‘types’ and then create landing pages with specific messages to these targets.

The next challenge is to capture the data that you need from the site visitor in the hopes of creating a conversion.  This usually involves having some kind of form on the page.  Asking visitors to fill out a form can be challenging, so the less fields to fill, the better.  Remember that people don’t give their information easily, so designing the page with branded visuals helps in portraying trust and authority for your brand.

Why take time to optimize your landing page?

It expedites the sales process.  Capturing data from your prospects helps you to expedite your sales process.  One you have their information, you can place them in to your sales cycle and eventually turn them into customers.

It will lower your cost per lead.  When your landing pages become more successful, your cost per lead goes down.  It’s important to drive traffic to your landing pages to promote their success.  A lot of time and money goes into creating your campaigns, be sure to make them pay off as much as possible.

What do you need to include on your page?

Here is a short list of items that should be on every landing page:

  • Logo
  • Offer.  The images and text on the page should answer this one question for your visitors:  “What can you do for me”.  This should be the first thing they see when they visit the page.
  • Large, beautiful image.  The image should relate to the text and offer in some way. 
  • Call to action.  Your call to action should be clear and concise.  Be sure to make the steps obvious and easy to do.
  • No Navigation.  If possible, remove any non-essential navigation on the page.  You want page visitors to focus on your offer.
  • Form.  The length and usability of the form is crucial in getting conversions.  Remember that the lower the number of fields in your form, the greater number of leads you’ll receive.

Landing pages should be usable, readable, and persuasive and appear trustworthy. 

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Posted by Thursday, January 15, 2015 11:51:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C content development inbound marketing landing pages marketing tips SMB web trends website

What’s a Buyer Persona and Why You Need to Understand Them 

Do you know who your customers are?  How old are they?  How much money do they make?  What kind of car do they drive?  Do they own a home?  Do they have children?  

Understanding this kind of information will help you to create a Buyer Persona.

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

This information provides great insight for you and your company.  The information can be used to guide the development of your products and services, and can help to lead your company for the future.

The more detail in the Buyer Persona, the better.  Here are some things to include:

  • Customer demographics (age, income, occupation, home ownership).  Demographics are the known facts about your customers.  
  • Psychographics (behavior patterns, motivations and goals).  Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of your target audience.

The more detailed you are, the better.

Sample Buyer Persona

Wink Online Marketing created a great basic template to assist you in creating a basic buyer persona:
buyer persona
Here is their sample completed persona from the Buyer Persona Institute:

Depending on the number of products or services that you offer, you may develop several buyer personas for your target customers.

Why Buyer Personas are Important

Developing Buyers Personas are important because it will help you to better understand your target.  Developing a better understanding of your target will help you to better define their needs, leading to more sales.

  • You can develop key words based on your buyer personas.  This will help to attract customers to your site.
  • Identify the type of content that they like best.  Your audience will gravitate toward that content — and it’s this type of content that you should focus more of your content marketing efforts on.  This includes everything - blogging, images, social media, videos – should all be created with your persona’s in mind.
  • Over time, they help you to develop a personality and style that are attractive to your target audience.

What now?

Refine.  Refine.  Refine.    Your Buyer Persona is a work in progress.  As your target audience ages and changes, your Buyer Persona will have to continually be updated to ensure that you’re providing the right product or service for your target.  

This is something that you really don’t want to lose sight of.

 

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Posted by Tuesday, December 9, 2014 1:17:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C content development inbound marketing marketing tips online marketing web trends

The Comment Sections Are Dying, So How Do You Engage Your Audience? 

customer engagement

Blogging is a fantastic way of engaging potential customers and building a relationship of trust, so that when you land your sales pitch, you’ve got more chance of converting. The comments section on blog posts and articles has long provided the environment for this engagement to occur. However, in recent years, comments haven’t managed to stimulate quite as much discussion on some sites as intended. So if readers aren’t engaging on your blog posts and articles, then how can you persuade them to get involved?

Community Involvement
There’s a term that gets bandied around in the social media sphere known as ‘community’. A group of customers, big or small, that are passionate about your brand and the things you do, so much so that they are actively involved in the development and promotion of your brand. Building an active community, and reaping the rewards of customer loyalty, free publicity and social recommendations that come with it, is likened to the Holy Grail for content marketers.

But You Need Right Kind of Brand
The sad truth is, though, not every brand can build a community in any real sense. The willingness for customers and potential customers to partake in something depends entirely on the character and personality of the brand. For example, in the UK, Kimberely Clark’s Andrex toilet paper launched the ‘scrunch or fold’ campaign, an initiative that asked customers across the internet to get involved and discuss how they prefer to wrap up their toilet experience. Needless to say, the campaign fell short of expectations and was a mere drop in the, err, ocean, given the reluctance of customers to discuss their private moments so openly.

Alternatives to Comments
So how can we foster a user base of active and enthusiastic customers?

It’s our job as marketers to work out where our customers are, what they want and how they like to be communicated with. These days, it’s no secret that social media plays a large role in people’s lives. So taking the conversation onto social media, as opposed to on your website can result in an increase in engagement for the following reasons:

  • People can be themselves on social media so you’re likely to foster a more genuine discussion
  • Comments and likes spread to the commenter’s friends and followers, amplifying your content
  • This amplification can lead to more people getting involved in the discussion

To make the most of social media as a replacement for your comments system however, there are a few realities that you must face:

  1. You’ll loose control. You can’t moderate the comments you receive on Facebook like you can on your website. People are free to say whatever they please and this can sometimes divert the point of the discussion and derail the debate.
  2. Targeting frailty. It’s a lot easier to comment on something you see on Facebook because users don’t even need to read the article or visit your website to take part in the discussion. Therefore, although you may experience an increase in engagement, it may simply be people that don’t represent you target market jumping on the bandwagon. 

There are arguments for and against comment systems. They can be a genuinely pleasant experience that enthuse readers, stimulate debate and bring people closer to your brand. Alternatively, they can be a free for all mash up of random insults and incoherence or deserted, baron wastelands. Whatever the case is on your site, if the discussion has dried up, it may be time to consider moving on. And the best place to start is the place where your customers are holding their discussions instead.

 

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Posted by Monday, November 17, 2014 3:12:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging content development inbound marketing
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