Why Should I Hire a US Based Freelance Developer?

If you are a US or Canadian based company the urge is probably strong to hire an off shore developer to save your business some of those very costly development dollars. So what can I say to change your mind and hire a US based freelance Java or PHP Programmer instead of an offshore, Asian contractor?

Of course the offshore contractor would no doubt be less expensive, but surely you have heard the saying “You get what you pay for”. Personally I have found that to be true more often than not. You can hire a freelance programmer from across the ocean at a bargain rate but you have the language, culture and time zone barriers to contend with. You also are not quite sure of their educational experience.

A US based programmer who has a US college degree is going to cost you more but I guarantee you will have much easier communication with this person. And really, in the end is it going to cost you more or not? And with the booming economy in Asian countries and the sagging economy in our own, good off shore developers can and are charging rates comparable to the US. So a bargain rate programmer may end up being not such a bargain when your application fails to function as you desired.

The hours of operation when working with someone on the other side of the globe are going to slow down your development unless one of you is willing to work in the middle of the night. While you are sleeping they are working and vice versa, communication is slow unless you or they are willing to work in the wee small hours of the morning. I did some work for someone in Australia once and while language was not a problem, the time difference made the project drag on for weeks longer than it needed to. Instant message would have worked much quicker had we been in the same hemisphere. Since that experience, I always make sure my clients are in the US or Canada.

I have also noticed that a lot of US freelance developers are retirees who have 20 to 30 years of IT experience behind them and are looking for a job that can supplement their retirement income. Just because someone is over 62 does not mean they have not kept up with the latest and greatest, especially if this has been their life’s work. They have developed excellent work habits over the years and have learned how to finish a project.

It would be a good idea to ask to see a sample of their code. You can see if it is tidy, easy to read and well documented. If you want someone else to be able to come along and edit this project at some point in the code’s lifetime, then these code characteristics are vital to making supportable code. I have had the unfortunate experience of editing code that had no documentation, with variable names in pseudo English/Russian and methods of more than 30 lines in length. It was virtually impossible to sort that out without a total rewrite. If you do not know what good java code is supposed to look like then take a quick glance at the Java web site regarding code conventions. There is a lot more involved in choosing a freelance programmer than just picking the lowest priced bid. Some upfront screening and leg work will save you money in the long run.