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How not to get f*cked when outsourcing code?

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VicFountain

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So I've been thinking about outsourcing a website project I tried starting alone. However, I soon realized the skills required to make it real will take me years to learn. So, while I am still learning to code, I thought about outsourcing the website development on Upwork so I can finally start the business. I used to be a graphic designer so I decided to create the web UI/UX myself, also to save money.

I've read on here Upwork is very popular for outsourcing, but now comes the tricky question: How do you NOT get scammed on Upwork? I have 0 experience with outsourcing and I have no idea what to do and what to expect. I've read some threads on the forum but there are many contrasting ideas. I've read "Hire third world countries' developers because they are willing to do the work for less" , or "Don't hire them because they might scam you". Clearly, you can't have a precise answer, but I'm sure some of you are following some guide-line when outsourcing, don't you? Apart from that, I'm sure many of you have experience with outsourcing code.

One thing I can't figure out is how much to charge. Is someone who charges very little trust-worthy?

For example, I've had one proposal and this dude is basically asking 50% less than the budget I listed ($550 instead of $1110) for a full-stack development. He has 1 review with 5 stars and seems to be new on Upwork. I've seen the work on his portfolio and looks impressing.

Now, I cannot but feel something is odd. Usually, quality is accompanied by high hourly-rates (obviously this is not always true, but this is the simple habitual association the brain makes), but this man seems to charge nothing for what I ask. He also asked me to show him the web design I so far created and to explain in detail the functions I intend to add. Beware, I still have not hired him and we are just messaging each other on Upwork. I know ideas are worth nothing, but am I naive for thinking he's trying to steal my business idea (also considering I have the web design half done)?

Is it because he just started on Upwork and wants to get a good reputation that he charges very little? Or is it because he's trying to scam someone? To be honest, it has to be one of the two. If you have seen something like this in the past please tell me.

Anyways, what's your general advice when it comes to outsourcing web development? Thanks a lot in advance.
 

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Process

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So I've been thinking about outsourcing a website project I tried starting alone. However, I soon realized the skills required to make it real will take me years to learn. So, while I am still learning to code, I thought about outsourcing the website development on Upwork so I can finally start the business. I used to be a graphic designer so I decided to create the web UI/UX myself, also to save money.

I've read on here Upwork is very popular for outsourcing, but now comes the tricky question: How do you NOT get scammed on Upwork? I have 0 experience with outsourcing and I have no idea what to do and what to expect. I've read some threads on the forum but there are many contrasting ideas. I've read "Hire third world countries' developers because they are willing to do the work for less" , or "Don't hire them because they might scam you". Clearly, you can't have a precise answer, but I'm sure some of you are following some guide-line when outsourcing, don't you? Apart from that, I'm sure many of you have experience with outsourcing code.

One thing I can't figure out is how much to charge. Is someone who charges very little trust-worthy?

For example, I've had one proposal and this dude is basically asking 50% less than the budget I listed ($550 instead of $1110) for a full-stack development. He has 1 review with 5 stars and seems to be new on Upwork. I've seen the work on his portfolio and looks impressing.

Now, I cannot but feel something is odd. Usually, quality is accompanied by high hourly-rates (obviously this is not always true, but this is the simple habitual association the brain makes), but this man seems to charge nothing for what I ask. He also asked me to show him the web design I so far created and to explain in detail the functions I intend to add. Beware, I still have not hired him and we are just messaging each other on Upwork. I know ideas are worth nothing, but am I naive for thinking he's trying to steal my business idea (also considering I have the web design half done)?

Is it because he just started on Upwork and wants to get a good reputation that he charges very little? Or is it because he's trying to scam someone? To be honest, it has to be one of the two. If you have seen something like this in the past please tell me.

Anyways, what's your general advice when it comes to outsourcing web development? Thanks a lot in advance.

When it comes to hiring people you want to check reviews/references they can provide.

Spend the time to see if they are a long or short term thinker when you interview them. Find out why they do what they do.

Have them give you a specific plan of action.

You should only pay them in chunks for phases of the project when possible. Don’t pay all at once or they have no incentive to finish.

Of course there’s no guarantee with people. You always have to verify.
 

Ismail941

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Give them a test/experiment just to see if they follow your instruction from A to Z.

Universal Rule of Thumb: A Smart person knows that "Never Argue with Instruction" (It applies to all human being except Area 51 Alien)

If they pass it with flying colors, its likelihood good
If they fail it without flying colors, move on and recruit another one
 

Jon L

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How do you avoid getting scammed on Upwork? Hire me :) Seriously. I have a team overseas that does this kind of thing all day long. I've been managing them for years, and we do great work.

Hiring developers as a non-developer is not easy. I hired this one guy for a small project on Upwork a few years ago (may have been Odesk back then?). He sounded great, had great reviews, but the work I needed done was fairly technical. The code that I got back from him was AWFUL. Poorly thought out, variables weren't named well, etc.

On upwork, its a gamble. You may need to hire a couple different people (or so) before you find one that does good work. You'll waste some money doing that, so be prepared for that.

General tips:

1) Start small (like people say above)
2) break up the project into logical steps. If its a website, each page is a step. Have them implement each page and look at it for quality. If its slightly off, thats fine. Have them fix it. If it looks lazily done, fire them. They're a contractor not an employee. Your job is not to turn them into a productive human being.
3) Listen to how them present themselves - definitely do an audio or even a video interview. Do they sound confident in how they describe things? Ask them to explain what they're going to do during your project. If they bring up a technical term, ask them to explain it to you. People that are experienced with this stuff will make you feel comfortable with how they answer your questions. This will weed out some of the people that are good but don't speak well, unfortunately, but it will also weed out people that don't know what they're doing.
4) pay attention to your responsibilities in this too. Having someone do something for you on upwork is a bit like the game of telephone. Cultural differences can cause problems too. Its your job to make sure the communication is as good as possible. Describe everything you need done in excruciating detail. Then have them explain it back to you.
5) ideally, you'd also find someone that's willing to disagree with you on your ideas. Welcome that kind of feedback. (also judge whether they are logical in what they say, too)
 

deeptib

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Hey, your problem is common for non-devs who manage devs.

In 2014, i got a job as a PM on web dev projects. The devs I worked were liars. Impossible to work with. Refused to build anything. Kept giving me crap deliverables.

So... you know what I did? I taught myself Web Dev and built the sites myself. Now, 6 years later I'm an accomplished dev who can build anything on the web.

I can also tel now by asking some questions on basic theory if devs know what they're doing.

Sorry, I know this isn't helpful in the short term. just wanted to relate with you.
 

Alxander

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As a developer myself I don't know much about outsourcing code, but as one myself I would advise you to propose a few frameworks and see if that person knows one of them.

Pick a good but popular frameworks, I really like Laravel as a back-end for medium sized web applications for example, and React is a good front-end framework for example (Vue is another simpler but good alternative)

Basically, make sure that that persons code can be easily picked up by another developer in case that person leaves the project.

If you're scared of him stealing your idea you can just let him sign an NDA?
 

CoderSales

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I've been going through this process myself... and it's a process. I vet the hell out of them, ask their process and their logic when coding/solving the problem.

I like the idea of paying in milestones and not all at once. Also, you can just keep adding milestones and don't pay (within reason, of course) until they meet your requirements.

Sidenote - I now have a staging area where I take the client's production website, clone it, deploy that to my staging site then have the devs build on that. When they're finished, I then just export/migrate the page(s) to the client's server. That way my team is the only one making production changes.
 

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