When Should I Hire An In-House Web Developer?

It’s a question faced by almost every startup founder: Do I need to hire an in-house web developer (i.e., a programmer)?

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It’s a question faced by almost every startup founder: Do I need to hire an in-house web developer (i.e., a programmer)?

Hiring technical expertise is all about understanding how time and quality interrelate. If you’re working with web developers on contract now and wondering whether it’s time to hire in-house, here are some red flags that make this a feasible option:


  • Your web developer doesn’t move with urgency. Contract web developers handle multiple projects at once, so they might prioritize other projects over yours based on a timeline or profit.
  • Your web developer doesn’t understand aesthetics or functional requirements. Outsourced web developers might have a different creative vision. Large firms or those operating overseas may not grasp the aesthetic that will appeal to customers in your region.
  • Your definition of “done” is different. Some people work until the last pixel is perfect while others prefer to launch raw and make changes as the product gains market traction. If your definitions of “done” are misaligned, you’re in for a challenge.
  • Your web development team is experiencing high turnover. This is common in an aggressive technology market, and it means your project may stall or get passed from one person to the next.


Evaluating Web Development Needs

If you’ve observed these red flags, look objectively at progress and evaluate whether you should continue with an outside web developer or consider hiring someone in-house.


  1. Specifically, look at the projected cost of a staff developer. What can you afford? Are you self-funded, or are investors lining up to give you capital? Some sourcing options may appear quite inexpensive on the surface, but future expenses to fix major issues from cheap work can cost far more in the long run.
  2. Weigh cost, experience and efficiency. A developer with more than 10 years of experience may charge $100 per, but he may also have the breadth of knowledge necessary to get your project done in 100 hours. The alternative is to hire an outsourced company that could charge $30 per hour but may take up to five times as long to develop the project.
  3. Consider your timeline. If your project can be developed in a relatively short time, it really doesn’t make sense to hire a full-time person. Hiring someone for a project with limited scope means you’ll spend unnecessary money keeping that person around once the job is finished.
  4. Consider the confidentiality of your idea. If your idea is sensitive and you don’t want anyone outside your team knowing about it, hiring in-house makes sense.


Finding an In-House Web Developer

Once you decide to hire a web developer, you’re up for a challenge. Recruiting firms are sharks when it comes to poaching top talent with promises of big salaries and upside potential, and the cost of technical resources has ballooned in this hypercompetitive environment.

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