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Until I went to great lengths to protect my email address against spam, I received lots of messages from foreign companies offering ‘cheap’ website services, primarily from India but also from China and Eastern Europe. I ignored them or put them in my junk folder but the idea of a low–cost website must be attractive to some, particularly in a recession.

Is it a good idea to get your website built by an overseas company? The UK has one of the highest costs of living in the world so going over seas and getting it done at a fraction of the cost on face value seems like a very good idea. The cost advantage is great but there are several barriers that get in the way of you and a good website when you use an overseas company.

Time barrier

The development company won’t be working in the same time zone as yourself. This is not so bad when working with European companies but when you go further afield your working hours seldom cross. This may not be a problem most of the time but what happens when you need an urgent, critical bug fixing and all the developers are out of the office?

Language barrier

There’s arguably nothing that can damage your online credibility more than a website full of typos and grammatical errors. The company may appoint an English–speaking account manager but that doesn’t mean all the developers can read and write English too.

Legal barrier

Some countries have less stringent laws on copyright than we do. They may use an image, video or piece of software that they don’t have the rights to. If they use it on your site and a court case arises, you may be responsible, not them, especially if the site is hosted in the UK.

Distance barrier

What if you want to meet face–to–face? Some projects require that personal touch. A local company is usually never more than an hour or so away. If they’re the other side of the world it can cause problems.

Cultural barrier

A good website is always about thinking what life is like in your (potential) customers’ shoes. This is a difficult job at the best of times; it’s infinitely more so when you’re from a completely different culture.

If you do use an overseas company…

These barriers can be overcome to a limited degree. If you do use an overseas company:

I was lucky enough to be involved in a large project recently; I was the lead designer but all the development work was outsourced to China. We learnt that the above five points are critical if you do decide to use an overseas company.

You clearly need to exercise caution when using a development team from another country. Getting your website built at a fraction of the cost it would to get it built in the UK is an attractive prospect but be careful—it’s easy to waste your money. For more advice call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a freelance web designer from Leeds. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.