When I started my current role, my manager spoke to me about updating his website. It was a basic website. But it was only for dirt bike goggle prescription adapters. He wanted to add more sports glasses and add an online checkout with prescription.
I rang several developers. Two said that an online checkout couldn’t be done. One never returned my phone call.
Finally, a developer said that it was possible. The new site went live. Happy days!
However, changes needed to be made. Some big and small.
After the initial project, the developer started to become harder to contact for adjustments. Sometimes, I had to leave a few emails or text messages. If something was broken, we couldn’t afford to wait. How can our website compete without a developer?
So I looked online and found freelance web developers. They were considerably cheaper and seemed to do good work. I found one in Vietnam and later one in India.
Soon after, I began finishing later at work to talk to the developers.
Then my wife started to get upset. I would sometimes get home at 7pm and login again at home. Family time was being eroded away.
Here are the lessons I learned about freelance web developers from overseas:
Long distance takes longer
Picture this. Try to explain your practice style to a total stranger, who doesn’t wear glasses and who lives in a country where optometry is vastly different. And English is their second language, and you had to type Instant Messages to communicate.
For both the big and small ideas for our website, I found that everything took longer. I had to over-communicate and sometimes say the same thing to two different people. Most of the time, I had to include screenshots of the website adjustments that I wanted.
Even when these website adjustments were complete, I felt like something was missing. I felt like the developer wasn’t being intuitive or ‘going in to bat’ for us. I was sure that there were more improvements that I could ask for, but wasn’t sure which improvements that I needed.
Freelance developers often have multiple projects at once. Our Vietnamese developer suffered mid-way through the process with staffing issues. As a result, he had to pull out on our website.
Navigating Different Timezones
When I wanted to talk to the developers, I often had to wait until after work. (Unless I had a no-show in my schedule.) Based on my timezone, the Vietnamese developer started work at Midday. The Indian developer at 2pm. Important changes often had to wait until then.
Which Public Holidays
Both Vietnam and India have separate public holidays and religious festivals. If work needed to be done on our site, we had to wait until they were back.
Payment and Reviews
Overseas web developers like to use sites like Freelancer, Elance or PeoplePerHour. They use this for payment and ratings. This meant that I had to create a new login for each of these sites. I also had to leave progress reviews regularly, despite the work not being fully completed.
You discuss important information with your web developer, including patient email addresses and transactions. In the end, you have to trust the developer, that they won’t sell or share your information. (Even though freelance sites have Terms about this.)
Don’t invest in a cheap practice website. It’s not worth the effort. And your spouse hates it when you’re late home.
Need help with updating your website? Let me make the process easier for you. There’s no risk or obligation. Send me a Facebook Message to start the conversation at m.me/optomly