Who Should I Hire When Developing a Website?

Do you want to build a new website or make changes to an existing website?

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is, should you hire a freelancer or an agency?  Or should you do it yourself?

The Three Tiers of Website Development

When building a website, you have three different options.

The Do-It-Yourself Approach

The first option is the DIY approach.  This would leverage a solution like Squarespace, Wix, or Godaddy Pagebuilder (there are many more, but these are a few of the most popular.

Pros: cheapest option, great for new businesses with an extremely limited budget
Cons: doesn’t scale, customizations or more advanced features require a complete rebuild of the website

The Freelancer Approach

The second option is to hire a freelancer.  This is more expensive than the DIY approach, but it gives you the ability to do more customizations and build a better site that will scale with your business.

Pros: cheaper than an agency, can get customization you need, have someone build it for you
Cons: jack-of-all-trades approach means wearing multiple hats and compromising quality; finite resource (one person) means you are competing with other customers for attention

The Web Agency Approach

The final option is to hire a web agency.  This option can further be refined into the following options.

Offshore Agency

An offshore agency will have most (if not all) of its resources outside of the United States.  At most they might have a sales team in the US.

Pros: cheapest of the agency approaches, so you get the division of responsibilities and multiple stakeholders (usually)
Cons: usually prioritize quantity over quality; requirements are often inaccurate and can result in time and money wasted building the wrong solution

Domestic Agency

A domestic agency will have most (if not all) of its resources inside the United States.

Pros: least risk of all the agency options; ability to meet face to face with the whole team
Cons: the most expensive option; risk of inferior talent if the agency isn’t properly compensating employees due to the competitive US market

Hybrid Agency

A hybrid agency (like Caffeine Interactive) will have many customer-centric disciplines based in the United States and some employees outside of the United States.

Pros: cheaper than a domestic agency; with good process and strong talent, can actually have less risk than a domestic agency
Cons: more expensive than offshore agency

Which Should I Choose?

As a hybrid development agency, we certainly feel this is your best option.  But yes, we’re biased.

The correct answer is, it depends.

If you’re on a limited budget starting a new business and need to put your cash reserves into materials, products, and marketing, you should really be hesitant about overengineering your website.  You can usually get by with a DIY solution for awhile, at least until your business starts generating some revenue and you can reinvest into building the right website.

In most cases, you will probably not want to hire a freelancer.  Any savings you realize at first compared to an agency will become expenses later, whether it’s difficulty getting quick turnaround from your freelancer or quality issues with the website.

When hiring an agency, we’ve seen too many projects go sideways with offshore agencies.  That doesn’t mean good offshore agencies don’t exist, it just means they are few and far between.

Hiring a domestic agency means either paying a lot, or possibly getting an inferior product because the agency isn’t offering reasonable compensation to its employees.  This usually manifests into a model where the agency is hiring a lot of junior developers in order to save money.

A hybrid agency can mitigate risk as well if not better than a domestic agency as long as they have a solid process and hire great talent.  The cost can also be very reasonable compared to a domestic agency.


By hiring a hybrid agency, you can still realize a cost-effective solution while getting the value of hiring an agency.