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Beware Of Web Design Company Shells

It is a sad fact in today’s marketplace that you need to beware of web design company shells. There is a reason that people and businesses have a hard time freely giving out trust and much of that has to do with the segment of the population that is willing to do unscrupulous and underhanded things in order to make money. Web design company shells are just another example of this, and not only is it not good for you as a customer but also the industry in general as it shades the perception towards a web design company that does operate openly and honestly which is unfair.

What do we mean by Shells?

The term shells is based off the idea of a shell company, which by definition is an inactive company used as a vehicle for various financial maneuvers or kept dormant for future use in some other capacity. You often hear the term in finance related to unscrupulous practices of hiding or maneuvering money around so you can’t tell who or what is really behind certain activities.

In the web design world this has sadly come into play where a web design company shell is created by a few project managers. Rather than having a full service shop comprised of people locally to handle design, programming and other needs, they outsource their projects to places like Pakistan, the Ukraine or India.

This is done because the labor rates in many of these oversea countries, including the Philippines, China and Bangladesh, are much lower than in the United States. Often these shells are able to pay the people they hire a quarter or less of what a similarly skilled local worker would be paid. Typically that means a shell is selling services for a lower price and still generating plenty of profit for themselves while also undercutting other local web design companies.

So why is this something to beware?

For some people, keeping jobs local (within the U.S.) is very important. While using a shell might save your business a few dollars, at the same time that means not supporting local workers. There is also the concern over a lack of understanding of the market and culture of the United States. It can be very difficult to jump the cultural divide that often exists and if the person who is attempting to create your website does not understand your customers then how can he or she create something that resonates with them?

Here are some other very common problems that pop up when outsourcing:

  • Quality – In some cases it can be very difficult for a company that outsources to know how much actual skill someone has in design or coding because many overseas development shops use a general portfolio for the entire firm and you really don’t know the actual skill of the person assigned to a project. There is also the aspect of education and certification not being an apples-to-apples comparison between different nations.
  • Communication – Web design and development involves a large amount of collaboration and communication, often with the client. This helps to ensure business needs and goals are being understood and met. If information is being taken by the project manager and then passed to others there can easily be miscommunication or questions that need clarification which results in a lot of back and forth.
  • Logistics – With busy schedules it can be hard enough to schedule meetings in your own time zone or even between the east and west coast, but that problem becomes vastly magnified when you consider the 9 or more hour difference to Pakistan or one of those other countries people commonly outsource to. Not only can this add delays or extra time to a project, but often means that meetings take place at odd hours for one or both parties when not everyone is operating at peak levels.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that everyone should beware of web design company shells. If you think you are hiring a local shop to handle your business at it turns out that they outsource the entire project then frankly that is not very honest and upfront about what you are paying for. For many businesses it is important to have local workers on a project because first and foremost they have a better understanding of the target users or customers along with the marketplace and how to present an American brand. For others it is just a matter of knowing what you are paying for and making sure you are getting what you want.

Be sure to check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.

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