Five Things to Watch Out for When Hiring an Off-shore Web Designer

What to look for when working with an offshore web developer

Written by JVF Solutions

JVF Solutions is your premier source for all things online. From responsive websites to digital marketing services to online marketing strategy, we've got you covered.

January 10, 2024

Off-shore resources can be a lifeline for businesses on a limited budget and can result in significant savings for larger businesses. After all, you could potentially find someone in India who will charge you $ 20 per hour for the same work that would cost you $150 an hour in the US. Of course, there are pros and cons of using off-shore workers, and that is a topic for another time. But the bottom line is that it’s a decision that each business needs to make on its own, based on its unique circumstances.

We’ve worked with a number of clients over the years that have used and still use off-shore resources. Some had positive experiences while others didn’t, but we can all learn from their experiences. There are some tips that we share when someone reaches out to us regarding off-shore. We also recommend that they follow these tips when working with any consultant for the first time, but these are especially relevant when working with off-shore.

1. Know the layout of the land

Most of us who have been in technology for a while may be familiar with working with people from India, the Philippines, or Argentina. However, if you use a service like Fiverr, you could potentially get aligned with folks from countries you may be unfamiliar with. So take some time to familiarize yourself with the country’s language, work customs, labor laws, timezone, and overall culture. Sometimes businesses will work with a service provider that manages the workforce and acts as a liaison between the business and the workers. This may come at an added cost, but can be worth it.

2. Control their access

First, ensure that you have an auditing tool on your website so you can track access to the website as well as key changes. If you don’t have an auditing tool installed, you should install one right away – regardless of whether you’re planning on working with an off-shore developer. An auditing tool will come in handy when troubleshooting problems and could potentially alert you to problems (such as hacking) early on before they get out of control.

Second, ensure that you only give people the minimum level of access they need to do their job. Again, this is true for anyone that accesses your website. If they are writing content, they don’t need administrative access.

3. Clearly understand what will be added to your website

If your website is on a platform like WordPress that uses plug-ins, be sure to ask up front which themes, plug-ins, software, and other components are being added to your website. Even if you’re not technical, any good web designer should be able to explain what a component does without using jargon.

If you’re on a platform that has plug-ins, take a screenshot of your plug-ins before you give the developer access. Then, you can compare it with what they told you they were going to install after they’re done. Now, you may find other things that they may have needed to complete a task, but didn’t anticipate at the beginning of the project. But at least you’ll be aware of it. We’ve seen situations where consultants have added plug-ins to WordPress that gives them access to the site’s file structure and/or database. This is a common workaround for when they can’t access your hosting account. However, it can also become a huge security risk.

4. Make sure all software is properly licensed.

Many web developers (off-shore and on-shore) use templates, libraries, and/or plug-ins when they build a website and just copy them from site to site. The issue is that they may be using counterfeit copies of the software – they purchased one license so they can do their development work, and then clone the software without purchasing another license for the new site. We see this nearly every week, and it can be a huge problem because your website may be using an older version of the product that has security vulnerabilities.

The good news is that the fix for this is pretty straightforward, although it can be costly. You’ll just need to purchase a license for the software in question, which could be $20 or over $1000 per item. We often see this with WordPress page editors such as Elementor or WP-Bakery. Practically every site we look at that uses either of these editors has an unlicensed copy of it (Elementor has a free version, but many sites use components that require a license). So be sure to ask about ownership and licensing of all software.

5. Monitor the quality of their work.

Again, this is something you should do with each consultant you work with for the first time. If you have an auditing tool on your website,  start by reviewing the logs. If anything looks suspicious, ask the developer to explain the activity. Be sure to run a malware scan on your website as well.

We also recommend that you regression test your website to ensure that all links and functionality works as expected. You should test on different browsers (Edge, Chrome, Safari) and different platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone). We also recommend that you run a performance test both before the changes are made, and after. You can run performance tests for free at https://speedtest.jvf.com.

Wrapping Up:

Off-shore versus on-shore is a decision that each business needs to make for itself. We have had clients that have had success with it and others who haven’t. We’re not here to tell you whether it makes sense to use off-shore, we’re just here to show you how to protect your business. We currently do not use off-shore resources for any of our work – our entire team is based in the state of Massachusetts. But we’ve had experience working with off-shore teams and have had minimal issues.

We’re always here for you to answer any questions. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if for more information.

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