Outsourcing development in digital projects (such as website design) is an increasingly common solution for businesses of all sizes. It gives a business access to the skills and capabilities that they need to realise a leading solution without also needing to recruit the internal skills to do so, saving significantly on the cost of development as a result.
But what does it actually mean when you hire a development partner? And what should you look for in the ideal development partner?
1. Your customers should never know that you didn’t develop the website yourself
A development partner’s role is to be seen but not heard. Or, more specifically, the work that the development partner does should be seen by people that visit the website, but the customer shouldn’t know who the development partner is – it should all look like it came from your business itself.
White labelling is really important in outsourced development. Because the website is such an important part of a business’ brand, they need to be able to control it from end to end – this means another company’s branding doesn’t belong on the site.
Related to this, white labelling also means that you should be able to control the messaging and content on the website, and at the end of the development project, you should retain the rights and ownership of the code. That way if you wish to further develop the site, either internally or with a different collaborator, you can do that as well.
2. You should be involved in the development of the website
One of the common misconceptions about outsourcing a development project to a third party is that the project then becomes “hands off” on your part, and you’ll have no further input into the design and development of the website.
That shouldn’t be the case at all. A good development partner will be highly consultative in approach; they’ll work hard to engage their clients at each stage in the development cycle – providing advice on options and directions to take the site, but ultimately having decisions approved by the client before implementation. A good development partner will also look to their client for the content; the specific wording and images that you want your business to present to the world.
In other words, a good development partner is just that – a partner. Their goal will be to deeply engage with your business and understand it, in order to deliver a website that fits with that business and its goals. This can only be achieved through a deeply consultative approach with regular engagement between the development partner and its clients.
3. A development partner can be for a single project, or ongoing management
Often people see a development partner as a temporary arrangement; the partner is brought on board for a single project (such as the development of a website) and, once completed, the partnership is ended until such a time as another project comes up.
This is often the case with small businesses, who only need a website to be up and running and have limited resources for ongoing projects. But for larger or growing businesses, there’s often the need for ongoing management and development work; perhaps there’s a steady roadmap of planned features to add to the website, or perhaps there’s the need to add a mobile application or other digital technologies to the mix.
For ongoing projects, a good development partner will assign staff to the client on an ongoing basis. Effectively they’ll become part of the client’s operation over the long term. This benefits the client’s business, as the development partner’s staff will develop a long-term working relationship with the client, and all the expertise and understanding of the business that comes with that. At the same time, as an outsourcing project, it will still remain less expensive than hiring and maintaining staff full time.
4. A development partner provides support
As the old saying goes, it’s always good to have another pair of eyes look at your work, and another pair of hands to help with the load. That’s no different when it comes to web design, and so two of the most important roles that a development partner plays are to be that other pair of eyes and hands. In addition to supplying development work, the team will comb through your existing website or digital present to ensure that it’s all running as efficiently and as effectively as possible.
Of course, the quality of development partners can vary wildly. Some do indeed refuse to engage with or listen to their customers. But that’s something that will always show up in the results and portfolio so, when you’re looking for a development partner, it’s always a good idea to take a really good look at past examples of their work. You should think about whether that portfolio reflects a range of clients that have ended up with websites and other digital assets that really reflect their brand – because that’s the mark of a really good development partner.
To discover how EB Pearls works as a development partner to Australian businesses, download our eBook here.