As the web becomes more and more prominent businesses of all sizes are investing more heavily into their web presence. This means either utilizing more third party agencies or hiring more tech savvy in house employees. This can be a very difficult decision to make, and often times it may be a combination of in house and third party resources, not an either or decision.

To be successful on the Internet as a business requires a large collection of skill sets such as writing, SEO, social media, graphic design, web development, and paid online advertising management. Quality marketing, design and web development can get expensive. Smaller companies might have to go with a third party because hiring a full time web designer or web developer can be far too expensive. However, if you are larger small business with over 100 employees you may be thinking about going with an agency versus hiring in house. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Hiring in house requires management of such resources and it can also be difficult to find employees who have expertise in the CMS platform you are trying to implement such as Drupal or Magento. However, in house developers can provide a much faster rate of progress if the right team is in place, and at a lower cost compared to hiring an agency to devote an equal amount of time to your companies projects.

An agency can provide a large pool of resources such as project management, consulting expertise, platform expertise, design resources, development resources and more at a much lower cost than hiring multiple people who have that expertise in house. Therefore if you need to implement a new website or project that might not take a full year and then will only need a smaller amount of on going resources post launch, an agency may be the best route.

Agency Services vs Hiring In House:

Agency:

Advantages:

  • Larger pool of resources
  • Industry expertise
  • Depth of experience
  • Cost effective
  • Don’t have to pay taxes on agency costs

In House Development:

Advantages:

  • Faster changes
  • Can be cheaper long term if used properly
  • More control and flexibility

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive if not required full time
  • Need expertise to manage in house team
  • Limited expertise
  • Have to pay taxes and benefits

Disadvantages:

  • Can be expensive per hour
  • Can be slow for smaller changes
  • Not employed by your company

Chances are hiring an in house marketing and graphic designer are your best bet because they are far easier to hire and manage than web developers and software engineers. Therefore if you are looking to hire a mix of in house and an agency it would make sense to hire in house marketing and design expertise and out source development. However, you must be very careful with the development agency you choose.

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on cost of development as their deciding factor without realizing that a cheaper solution is often times far inferior to high quality web development. Cheap web development means the code is most likely not well thought out and will not be scalable or tested for all browsers and functionality. Cost should not be your number one factor when choosing a development agency, value should always be number one.

What to look for in a good web development agency:

  • Has experience in the specific platform or framework you are utilizing such as WordPress or Laravel
  • Has both front end and back end developers available
    • Front end code is responsible for what you see on the website (html, css, javascript / jquery, Ajax, XML, etc…)
    • Backend code is what allows for dynamic functionality, and content management functionality, database functionality (PHP, MySQL, Python, Java, etc…)
  • Has a strong testing process
  • Has some design experience even if they are not your main designers
  • Has experience developing complex applications
  • Has a good understanding of development operations
  • Has good relationships with hosting and hosting companies
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