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The Do’s and Don’ts for Hiring International Web Developers

Your website is the digital soul of your company. It’s often the first thing people see when researching your brand. It can make or break your conversions. Finding the right web developer is important, but you also must find someone you can afford.

If you’re considering hiring an international web developer to save money, there are a few do’s and don’ts you must consider to avoid being burned.

What Should I Know Before Hiring a Web Developer?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 199,400 web developers and digital designers in the country with a 13% growth rate in the industry. Combine the lower numbers, fast growth and current labor shortages and seeking help outside the country could be a necessity.

Since you likely will have to outsource internationally at some point, what are the do’s and don’ts for hiring someone?

Do: Write a Job Description

It’s easy to get caught up in the interview process or find an amazing developer who has so many skills you forget what you actually need. Spend time creating the best job description you can so you know exactly what skills anyone you hire must have.

A job description also helps the potential employee see if the job is a good fit for them. While you might have to offer some training, the ideal candidate will already know most of the answers to your questions.

Don’t: Ignore Complex International Taxes

One thing companies often overlook when hiring out of the country is compliance issues and global tax obligations. The tax structure for other countries can sometimes be complex. You should also keep these issues in mind if you plan to send any employees to a new territory.

Even if you hire the person as a contracted entity, you may need to consider taxation or other special considerations. Talk to a global business accountant to figure out what you need for the country the person is from.

Do: Ask for Multiple References

When someone lives out of the country, it is much more difficult to track down whether information is accurate or not. They might say they’ve worked on big corporate websites when they only built Cousin Jack’s wedding website.

Be sure to look at examples of sites they say they’ve created and cross-check them. You might even want to email the owners and ask if they’re happy with their web developer.

It’s good to think the best of everyone until proven otherwise, but it’s also vital you check and confirm.

Don’t: Underestimate the Power of Face-to-Face

Some tasks require face-to-face meetings and brainstorming. While you always have the option to meet via video chat, you might have difficulties aligning time zones so it’s convenient for all.

Remote teams often find hiring people within the same company alleviates many of the issues with coordinating meetings. Unless the person has an amazing resume and skills you can’t hire locally or within your own country, you may find hiring overseas requires too much organization work.

On the other hand, you could hire via a firm and utilize many of their employees while only paying them. This solves the issue of having to individually worry about international laws and taxes as the firm will take care of that for you.

Do: Ask the Tough Questions

According to the United States Census Bureau, over 400,000 new business applications came through per month in 2022. The figures are down slightly from the peak in 2020 but still around 100,000 higher than in 2019.

With so many new businesses, the need for web developers is stronger than ever. Many established businesses are also getting online. Because of the stiff competition, you might find yourself having to wait longer or pay more locally for skilled workers. Hiring from a developing country sounds like a great idea under those circumstances.

However, if you don’t ask the tough questions, you risk winding up with a site that’s unusable or needs so much work to whip it into shape that it winds up costing even more than you originally budgeted.

What questions should you ask? Here are a few, but you’ll want to ask many others, of course:

  • How many websites have you built?
  • Do you know how to build a mobile app? What are some examples of ones you’ve built?
  • What research do you complete before starting my site?
  • What platform or programming languages do you use?
  • What is the expected cost from beginning to end?
  • Can I edit the website when you’re finished?

Those questions should help you see if they know what they’re doing and how flexible the site might be should you want to hire someone local to maintain it.

Don’t: Forget About Benefits

Are you planning on hiring someone full-time? You may need to offer benefits to entice them on board. Navigating international insurance isn’t an easy task. Some countries have national health care plans. Others do not.

Talk to anyone you hire, either in or out of the country, about their expectations for insurance and other perks. Communication is often key to ensuring your workers are 100% satisfied with their hiring package.

Do: Avoid Communication Barriers

Another thing you must consider is potential communication barriers. Do you and the other person speak the same language? If not, what plan do you have to ensure communications go smoothly?

Even if you do speak the same language, heavy accents on either end can cause issues. It might be best, for example, to communicate via messaging or email if you have a hard time understanding the other person or vice versa.

Try a Trial

If you feel a bit uneasy about hiring an international web developer, consider a trial contract for a set term. For example, you might hire them to complete one job or for a set number of months and see how it goes. You can then choose to renew their contract or find a different solution.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.

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