When you’re starting out, the idea of having a full-time web team can be daunting. Taking on staff – and highly skilled staff at that -- can seem like a big investment. Especially if you’re a low-cost online start-up.
But it’s well worth considering, particularly if yours is an ecommerce business or you are based primarily online. If your web team is in-house, you have total control over your site.
According to Sophie Cornish of online retailer NotOnTheHighstreet.com, once you have a good idea of where your site is going, bringing a web team in-house is the best thing you can do.
“We started with an agency for about six months but then brought it in-house. I’d recommend that to anyone.”
Ryan Notz of online marketplace MyBuilder.com agrees: “I would absolutely recommend to people to get an in house web team. In some ways that’s getting serious. You should have people in-house that are doing nothing but working on your project, devoting all their time and energy to it.
“And of course there’s nothing better for communication then being in the same office.”
The reason an in-house web team works well is because your website is an organic thing. It will need to expand and develop along with your business: an in-house team can make exact adjustments as required.
Sophie explains: “We’re a site of many sites, so we didn’t just have one website to get launched on time, we had 140, each with pages within them. You can’t run a site like ours unless you have your developers in-house because it’s a constantly evolving beast.”
And according to Ryan, hiring your own development team is not even a great deal more expensive than outsourcing the work. He says: “It’s not necessarily more expensive, actually. I think I must have paid the freelance person £20,000 or £30,000 over the course of the year, and maybe I got a quarter of his time.”
Developers understand systems and how things are put together in complicated ways that other people don’t. It’s a skill and a way of thinking. Similarly, web designers approach things in their own particular way. If you are to build up a rounded team, it’s great if you can get a good designer on board, as Ryan explains:
“When we were building MyBuilder.com, the visual side of things wasn’t the prime concern because those things are easy to change. We focused on the technology, the way it was built, the system architecture… when those things haven’t been done right you have to rebuild it.
“And then we had a separate designer. We’ve never had a full-time in house designer. But it’s a mistake if the designer isn’t an integral part of the build.”
The developers do the backend technology, the functional things. The visuals – the front end of your site – are usually a separate consideration. It’s a good idea to bring a designer onto your team because a lot of developers will not be comfortable designing the visual side of your site.
A word of caution though: in Ryan’s experience, there’s always a ‘battle’ between the visual people and the technical people. Then again, bringing everyone into the company may well ease these tensions: “Bringing that in- house so that everyone understands each other is easier.”