If you’re like me, at some point you’ve been paralyzed in making a business decision about development because you don’t know any developers or designers. When I wanted to develop my first website with a friend, we posted a wanted ad on Craigslist, only to be inundated with responses from all over the world. How the hell were we suppose to find a developer when there were 200 responses, with basically the same content but prices varying from a couple hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars?
Although web templates at design sites such as ThemeForest.net are great for people who have some development knowledge, they’re still a foreign language to people who don’t have this background (like me a couple of years ago). In the past couple of years, I’ve found two great places to find developers. Forget about posting help wanted listing in domain forums, which you probably do just because you don’t know where else to turn.
I found my first designer Mike (Six One Five Design) after holding a contest at Sitepoint, which is now called 99Designs.com. You can basically create your design brief and set a price for your work, and assuming your offer is reasonable, you will receive submissions from which to choose. Your design brief does not have to be technical. Write down your ideas, mention other sites or features you like, and be as specific as possible.
99 Designs is especially good to find logo designers. Instead of paying a single logo firm $2-300 for 4-8 designs from 2-8 designers, you can allocate $300 for your project, and you’ll get dozens of designs (or more) from hungry designers. As people submit their designs, you can eliminate those that don’t work for you, giving contestants more of an idea about what you want. You can also browse around other contests and ask designers you like to compete in yours. This is a great way to find a designer.
If you have a project that requires programming knowledge, eLance.com is another great site to find a developer. You can search for a developer based on level of expertise, and some have even taken exams given by eLance. They have a ratings scale, where past clients have given ratings, and they also have an earnings scale as well as the number of repeat customers. This is great because trust is such an important factor when developing. eLance also handles escrow to further protect you (although downpayments may be required upfront).
eLance also allows you to create a brief and invite companies to participate. Give explicit instructions about the work you’d like to have done, and search for potential companies with which you’d like to work. At the end, you can choose a winner after communicating with the different providers.
One downside that I have found to development is that it seems to be much cheaper to work with a company located outside of the US. As a result, language barriers do exist, and communication can at times be a bit difficult. However, with all things considered, you can find a great designer and/or programmer to help develop your domain names.
Please remember these two pieces of advice that I have learned:
- Most successful developed websites owned by domain investors require work. You can’t generally build it and make money without work (PalmSprings.com and Bobbleheads.com are two examples)
- It might behoove you to work with a programmer and designer that work well together. While their work is akin to someone working on a car’s engine and someone else working on the paint and interior, both need to work together smoothly, otherwise you can waste time and money.