Gautam Lakum

Co-founder @SprintCube • Product Designer • Built 25+ web & mobile apps that handle million requests

My Experience With Reworking the Codebase of Low Cost Developers

In over 10 years, I’ve interacted with many digital product creators, around 100 or even more. I have worked with many of them on their products too.
Most of them had a common burning question about building a product. Who should I hire for the development? It becomes a key question when they are not technical.
Here, I would like to share about a common mistake that many creators make while hiring a development partner.
Let’s start with…

👨‍💻 How creators hire developers?

Generally, creators look for the development partners on freelancing platforms and Google. Some look into their network for referrals.
Based on my interactions with them, I found a few common factors that they look for into developers. These are,
1. the total years of experience
2. what roles they did play with different projects
3. what kind of projects they have developed
4. how are the clients’ testimonials
5. and finally, how much do they charge.
At last, most of them go with a low-cost or cost-effective option. They look at the experience, projects, testimonials, roles, etc. — but they don’t dive deep into that. They think hiring a low-cost development option will save them money. Often, they go with the low-cost option to cover post-development expenses, i.e. marketing, new features development, etc.
Often, they don’t even try to know if a developer or company has enough skills to build and grow the product because they are influenced by the low-cost. That could be because of the budget constraints too.
Now…

🤷‍♀️ What to look for in developers?

When you’re hiring a development partner to build a product, don’t look at the numbers only. A good number of projects, years of experience, testimonials don’t always get you the right development partner.
You should also look for,
1. What’s their development process?
2. How’s the code quality that developers delivered in the past?
3. What development practices and workflow they do follow?
4. What does a developer or company know about scaling projects?
5. How they keep the app’s performance up and fast?
Sadly, these vital points get ignored often because creators lack the product mindset.
You can ask for the sample code or look at the developer’s Github profile. This can tell you a lot about his coding skills, quality, guidelines, and much more. Ask questions about how they did work in past projects and how they are performing now.
If you want to build a product, I insist you learn a bit about how to build and grow products. That will help you make good decisions.
Let’s come to the point that creators hire a low-cost development option.
Do you think hiring a low-cost option for the development saves creators anything?
Someone might say — it depends! 😂
But I would say — NO. Almost nothing if they are building a product.
In fact, they spend more money with a low-cost developer than they would have spent by hiring a high-priced professional development option.
Want to know how?

💬 Let me share a real example with you.

A product owner reached us (at SprintCube) for web application development. His product was built with CakePHP Framework. He was searching for a CakePHP plugin and somehow, he landed on our GitHub repo. That’s how he found us.
Give free value. It pays off.
His problem was that users started complaining about the performance of the product.
He realized that poor performance will become a bottleneck for product growth. So he was looking for a professional developer for 2 reasons:

1. Supervise the development of the developer he hired to build the web application.
2. Do the engineering stuff required to improve the performance of the product.
We asked him to give us access to the code. We needed to review it so that we can give him some initial thoughts on improving web performance. We found many unexpected things there. The code was dirty & complicated. It had poor logic. Coding guidelines were not followed. Proper development workflow was not there in place. And, there was much more.
Want to have a look at that code review? Check this doc.
We couldn’t believe that a developer with 4+ years of experience writes such code. The product was running on the poor & problematic code since the launch.
The web application was performing slow. Users were having bad experiences even though they were paying for it. 68% of users had canceled their subscription in 3 months. 😲
The product owner didn’t know how poor the code and web performance was even though he was paying to the developer. There was no easy way to improve the performance and make it scalable with that codebase.
Later, he showed his will to rewrite the entire web application even though he didn’t have a budget for it. That’s sad. He already spent a huge amount to build the product and new features. Later, he spent on giving support to live users by solving bugs and issues.
Hiring a cheap developer has been proved a costly one. He went for a cheap option to save some bucks for marketing which got him a good number of users. But then the low-quality product started screwing him. He’s going to have a tough product road from here probably.
Here, he spent almost 3 times the time & money with a low-cost developer than a high-cost professional developer or company would have cost.

🚀 Conclusion

I’m not saying that low-cost development options are always bad. But you see what could happen with that.
It’s hard to get users, and getting them paying for your product is even harder. A low-quality product costs you users’ credibility which puts your product at a risk.
Cost-effective or low-cost development options are there for a reason. They charge less because they are not professionals. They probably don’t know 
– what coding guidelines they should follow
– what are the better development practices
– how to manage code versions
– how to write scalable code and put in place proper solutions
– how to write proper logic
– how to improve performance
– what the product mindset is.
They don’t know what impact poor development and solutions can create on the users and the future of the product.
As a result, you worry more. You invest more time, energy, money to make things better. They always end up being expensive.
Hiring low-cost development options may work when you want to try new ideas or create something which will be temporary. But, when it’s about your product, it’s your baby 👶 that you want to grow. And one doesn’t become careless with the baby, right?
Hire someone professional. A professional development option can be 10 times as good as an average one. Buy better & nice, or buy twice.
When you hire a professional developer or company, you pay a good amount. But when you hire an amateur, you pay a lot later.
Thank you! 🙇
BTW, I would take one positive point here. i.e. the creator at least got started with his product. He brought the product to the users, he got them paying for it, he interacted with them and got to know what they like & dislike.
He chose the wrong path for that. It’s unfortunate to be in situations that he’s in, but he learned a lot. That will help him grow his product in a better way down the line.

Tags

Comments

Topics of interest