Should you hire an international freelancer?

By January 5, 2018General

When having a website built, budget is one of the most important considerations and many small business owners want to get the cheapest services possible without compromising the quality of the website. For clients looking at alternatives to higher North American rates, one legitimate option for getting a high quality website built on a budget is to outsource your website building project to an international developer/development team; however, many people are apprehensive about such an action because they don’t fully understand the difference between hiring someone local or someone offshore. To help you out, below is a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an international web designer/developer as opposed to a local one.

Advantages of an international web developer

1. Their services are cheaper

One of the main benefits of hiring an international web developer to help you build a website is that the services they offer are very affordable compared to those of North American web developers. From you can hire a fully qualified developer for $10/hour USD where a local developer’s rates will usually start around $40/hour+.

2. Most offshore developers are very skilled and experienced

Countries like India and Bangladesh, where you can find some of the best international web developers, offer high quality IT and computer programming courses. Therefore, when hiring an international web developer, you will have access to a long list of developers with who are very skilled in building websites. In addition to being skilled, most of these developers are very experienced, having worked on numerous projects for other North American clients.

3. They work fast

Another advantage of outsourcing your web building project to an international developer is that it can help you save time. Due to the competition that exists in markets such as India when it comes to website building, developers are always keen to complete their clients’ projects on time so as to gain a good reputation. The better job they do for you, the more likely you are to hire them again and continue to pay them for additional projects.

4. They genuinely want to help you get your project done

In my experience hiring numerous international developers, I have always found them to be very kind and motivated to help me get my projects done. Because they know that I am writing the checks they try to say “yes” to my requests as often as humanely possible and work hard to fulfill my project criteria.

Disadvantages of working with an offshore developer

While there are several benefits of hiring an international web developer, there are also some legitimate downsides to taking your project offshore.

1. Most offshore developers are not native English speakers

One major disadvantage of hiring offshore developers is that they study English as a second language which can create problems when it comes to communicating or lower the quality of the service (especially if the developer(s) you hire is involved in the creation of content for your website).  Although in conversation it may feel like they understand what you want, I have found that many times I assign tasks but then they are not completed properly because they did not fully understand the scope of work which can lead to delays and frustration for both of us.

2. Cultural differences

While cultural differences might not seem like a huge problem when it comes to outsourcing your web building project to an international developer, it is an issue that can cause several challenges. According to a study, cultural differences are one of the main challenges facing clients when outsourcing their project overseas because different cultures have different approaches towards work, conflicts, style, and decision making. International developers are also most not intimately familiar with the North American mindset which might lead to problems with the user experience.

3. Different time zones

Another main challenge that business owners face when outsourcing their website building project is the different time zones; there is usually a time difference of 10-13 hours. Often times choosing to work with an international developer will require you to work around their schedules, which means having to work at weird hours and waiting for them to come online to communicate. It can be very frustrating to know that during your work day (when you want the work done) that your developer is asleep and you have to wait until the next day to see any of your tasks complete.

4. They do what you want but don’t offer advice or creative input

Something small but annoying I have found when working with an international developer is that because they are so focused on earning your approval that they will do whatever you ask them to do (positive) but never tell you if what you want is a bad idea (negative). Often times I have sent a request for a website edit only to find that my choice made the website look terrible but they were unwilling to tell me so because they always want to say “yes”. International developers are excellent at following specific directions but unlikely to offer any strategic marketing / design / development advice if what I’m asking to do is not in my website’s best interests.

5. You can’t call them if they “do dark”

To save money on long-distance the rule of thumb when working with an international contractor is to use Skype for all correspondence which is handy yet a limited communication method.  Many times when I have a question (but my contractor is not online) I have to send an email and often wait for hours or until the next day to get a reply because I am unable to call them directly. My 2 minute question now takes hours to resolve because of it.

6. Unreliable Wifi

In developing countries wifi can be hit and miss and sometimes you can lose days on your project if your developer’s country is having wifi issues. It is a terrifying feeling to not know what is happening with your project because you can’t get in touch with your contractor because they don’t have wifi or their connection is terrible and they can’t communicate with you or work.


From the above pros and cons of outsourcing web development to an international developer, it is quite clear that there is no blanket way of telling if the decision is right or wrong. Therefore, if you are considering outsourcing your project, you should consider all the benefits and disadvantages that can come from such a decision, and decide if the risk is worth for your business. If you decide to work with an international developer, you should also conduct thorough research on a developer before hiring them to make sure that you find a qualified, experienced, and reliable person who will not disappoint you.