Web Development – US vs India

Photo via Kenneth Lu on Flickr

When we first conceptualized Blind Surprise, the first step was to put our website idea down on paper.  We didn’t really know how to start a subscription box company, but we figured web design was the place to start.  How we wanted the homepage to look and feel, where all the buttons were going to link to, and then we drew out the next 4 layers of the website.  It was time to hire a web development firm and get our store built.  I reached out to a colleague in web development who suggested a US based designer to do the work, and I knew nothing at all about web design so I complied.  I met with the US team, and got the project started.

Three months, tons of back and forth, and 5 thousand dollars later, I felt comfortable enough to launch the site.  We weren’t happy with the design – it reminded us a bit of a website we had seen built in a 7th grade design class – with it seemed OK and we wanted to start selling.

6 Months later, traffic started to pick up, and we knew we had to get the site converting better.  You spend so much time trying to drive traffic to your website, and it’s terribly frustrating when people don’t buy.  So we commenced on web design, part 2.  But this time, we decided to outsource the development, and found a firm in India to manage the project.

And it could not have been more of a pleasure to work with these guys, to the point where I’ve hired them to do 5 other projects for me already, and be our full time SEO firm.  The two main concerns that people have with outsourcing parts of their business are the following:

  • Communication – will the firm be able to understand my ideas?  Will they completely miss the point?
  • Time difference – how can I work with a team that is on the opposite schedule as me?

I want to address both of these, as well as the experience as a whole, for people who are in this onshore/offshore dilemma.


As I mentioned, with the onshore provider we had months of back and forth about how we wanted the website to look and feel.  They never really seemed to understand what we wanted, and it caused us to delay launch as a result.

When working with the offshore team, I literally just showed them a design idea that I liked, and they put together a full model that far exceeded my expectations.  I gave them the immediate green light to start coding, and our entire website was built and ready to launch in under 14 days.  Every single idea that I had about the design of the website, they were able to conceptualize better than me and build quickly.  It was amazing – the lack of effort our team had to put forth compared to the onshore experience.

Time Difference

This did get a bit stressful/annoying for me at times.  If we wanted to communicate, it typically was done in the afternoons, and the mornings are when I am the most hot about ideas I have.  So at times it was a bit of an annoyance.  American’s want things to be done NOW and even having to wait 3-4 hours can be wrenching.


For young businesses, this is a massive factor.  Of course when you are building a business, you don’t want to be stingy, but not only did this project cost less than 10% off the onshore project we initially did, the design is much better, and the experience was much better as well.  To be completely transparent, the initial design project done in the US cost us about $5,000. Additionally, when we wanted changes done afterwards or slight adjustments, it was $100/hour.  With the firm we hired in India, the project cost us less than $500, and changes done afterwards cost $5.55/hour.  I mean – it’s almost comical how inexpensive these rates are compared to the US company.

And just so you can see the differences, check out the screenshots below.  A much better user experience, so much smoother, MUCH higher converting.







In my eyes, it’s not even close.  The user experience, and feeling of professionalism portrayed on the sites is night and day.

When it comes to using an offshore provider, you of course have to do your due diligence; ask for referrals, check out some of their past work.  But don’t let predetermined notions steer you away – there are great companies overseas that can help you run aspects of your businesses for a fraction of the price.

If you have any questions about the specific firm that I used for my design, reach out to me and I’ll give you an introduction.

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