It’s an old adage, but in the world of custom development, it’s true more often than not: you get what you pay for. In tech-rich communities, you can walk down the street and every third person you see will be happy to build you a site or app. With the advent of platforms and tools to make buildings sites and apps as easy as possible, the door has been opened to a large continuum of “talent”. I liken it to the dot-com boom, when everyone claimed to be a coder, and in the arms race of crazy growth it worked because companies needed bodies as quickly as possible. There’s a bit of a similar situation happening today with web sites and mobile apps. The spectrum ranges from people who have created a site once with WordPress, to dedicated custom development shops filled with highly trained software engineers.
There’s a need in the market for everyone in the spectrum, but the trick is making sure your need matches your partner’s skill sets. Maybe you’re a fitness professional that wants to get a few pictures up, your instruction times and contact information. For you, a simple site is perfect. You can have an online presence that can help you build your clientele, provide them with information and do it all for a couple hundred bucks. For middle of the road, you might be launching a startup, and need an interactive site or app that stores data on the backend, has innovative design and snappy interaction. In this case you’ll want a professional organization that does this time and again, runs a modern (agile) process and can show you examples of the many similar jobs they’ve done in the past. At the far end, you may have an established brand in the market, are national or international, and are looking for a new way to connect with consumers, automate processes with customers, or extend market reach. For you, do your homework on your development partner, because a mistake can harm your brand.
There’s nothing Earth-shatteringly surprising in any of the above, but what is surprising is how many situations I’ve seen where someone with angel funding for a new startup decides to go with a random freelancer or very small shop because they’re trying to squeeze every penny. Yes, the pennies are precious when you’ve got a small amount of funding and need to get that MVP built to try to raise more. However, consider that if your MVP isn’t done right, at best you’re throwing it away when you get your series A and building it again with a strong custom shop, and at worst you don’t get your funding because of fundamental flaws in design or implementation.
Know your needs, do your research, and make sure you align with the right development partner to get you where you need to go.