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When to Hire An In-House Web Developer vs. Web Development Firm

May 29, 2023

by Elaine Margrethe Alcantara

Developing and maintaining a website is a huge investment, and no business owner wants their resources wasted by hiring the wrong people. Understanding the differences between working with an in-house web developer and a web development agency is essential to getting the best results. 

Websites are imperative to connecting businesses with their target consumers and boosting their digital presence. A website serves as the bridge and a platform that allows customers to know more about a business’s products and services. 

In 2023, 71% of businesses have their own websites. The figure represents growth from previous years, driven by the digital shift caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Building and launching a website is easier said than done, but without a reliable web developer, the responsibility will be a handful.   
Experienced web developers can do the following for your business:

  • Web design 
  • Web and mobile app development
  • Programming using languages like JavaScript, HTML, and PHP
  • QA and testing
  • Troubleshooting and overseeing updates
  • Hosting and maintenance

These professionals are dedicated to helping your business make a great first impression on your customers by building sophisticated websites. They’re the experts that know the requirements and the intricacies of coding, ensuring your website stays optimized and accessible.

Working with in-house web developers vs. web development firms has its different upsides and drawbacks. Now that you know their usual responsibilities, the next step is to understand their distinctions — by then, you should be able to identify which one you should look for to help your business. 

When to Hire An In-House Web Developer vs. Web Development Firm

Browse the top web development firms on Clutch.

In-House Web Developer

What is an In-House Web Developer?

An in-house web developer is a full-time staff dedicated to developing your own website. They are internal employees that directly report to you. 

Since they are directly under your business, they will follow the schedule and work arrangements you set for them.

4 Benefits of Hiring an In-House Web Developer

Hiring an in-house web developer brings the following benefits to your company:

Full-time Support

Compared to outsourcing web development services, a full-time in-house web developer is solely committed to providing support to your website. They only focus on your needs, proactively supporting and maintaining your website. 

Because they're only working on your site, you won’t need to worry about distractions. You get their attention at all times. They can prioritize your requests quicker, in contrast to a firm that usually handles multiple clients at the same time.

When a web development firm’s contract ends, their work ends too. With an in-house web developer, you won’t need to worry about that because they’re full-time hires, and they can be present throughout the lifecycle of your platform.

Involvement Decisions

One of the biggest pros of working with an in-house team is that you can bounce off ideas with them freely. They are part of the company, and they will do their best to give input and be part of the key decisions such as choosing the right programming language and website design.

You can lean on them when deciding which content management system to use, how the user experience should go, and how the website ties to your digital marketing strategy. 

Familiar With Company Culture

An in-house web developer will have a better understanding of your company’s culture, goals, and needs. They will be able to work within the culture of your company, collaborating more effectively with other internal team members and departments.

Unlike hiring web development firms, in-house developers have a clearer grasp of your business’s brand and audience. They have more insights about the market position of your company, thus giving them more opportunities to help you reach your goals.


Communication is crucial to any project or role, and hiring an in-house web developer gives you direct access to them. The flow of communication is efficient and simple when they all report to you.

Because you have control over their work arrangements, you can choose to have them report to the office full-time or through a hybrid setting. Seeing them face-to-face ensures that they can understand every requirement or request you have, allowing you to personally oversee their progress in real-time.

3 Drawbacks of Hiring an In-House Web Developer

Building an in-house web development team isn’t for everyone, some downsides can be deal breakers for many businesses. Here are the main drawbacks of hiring an in-house web developer:

Tedious Hiring Process

Finding, screening, and hiring the right people is a huge hassle, and that’s most especially true in the technology industry. When you decide to hire an in-house web developer, you will need to go through the cumbersome process of searching for a reliable developer that fits the profile you are looking for.

Not every business owner has the time to go through the process, especially when their own internal HR team already has plenty of responsibilities on their plate.

Not to mention, the hiring process can be a roadblock when it comes to filling in urgent positions because recruitment requires time. 

Think of it this way, your dream website requires several professionals, how long will it take to screen various candidates and resumes to find the right people? Complex or large-scale web development projects require more than just one person. After you hire them, they will still need to go through the onboarding process of your company so they can understand its culture. 

Lack of Expertise

One of the biggest drawbacks of establishing and expanding an internal web development team is the lack of expertise and experience. Compared to working with a web development firm, you can’t guarantee that the in-house web developers you hire have the extensive experience necessary to deliver the final website you desire. 

Usually, a professional web development firm has the edge here because they have a variety of people with particular skill sets and backgrounds. 


Expenses are always a major factor, and hiring an internal web developer comes with a lot more expenses.

Aside from their wages, you will also need to worry about costs related to IT recruitment, equipment, office space, and healthcare benefits. When you add all of those costs, it can be a problematic burden especially if you’re in the early stages of a startup or still a small business.

Web Development Firm

What is a Web Development Firm?

A web development firm is a specialized service provider that builds customized websites or web apps for their clients. They are devoted to creating effective solutions tailored to suit the business needs and requirements of their clients. 

Businesses can hire web development firms for front-end, back-end, and full-stack development. You can come to them with a mockup, and they can build on that or you can also approach them with only an idea of what the website will be. 

4 Benefits of Hiring a Web Development Firm

It’s tempting to hire a web development firm because of the many benefits they bring. Here are some of the advantages you can gain with them:

Variety of Skillsets

Website development requires a variety of skills, not just coding. Often, the entire web development process requires design, content writing, and even search engine optimization (SEO). Experienced web development companies usually have people who possess these necessary skills. 

You can pick and choose the right web development company that has all of what you’re looking for — whether that’s experience using particular technologies or background with a client from the same industry. 

No Capacity Issues

Outsourcing development can open a lot of doors for your business. You will no longer have to worry about the limitations you will encounter when building and scaling your own in-house team. 

Their flexibility allows you to resize the outsourcing team whenever it’s necessary, and scale quickly without worrying about going through the meticulous hiring process or the office space they will take over.


If expenses are drawbacks of hiring an internal web developer, it’s one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing web development. 

Web development companies don’t have the additional expenses that come with hiring internal developers. You don’t need to pay for each developer’s health insurance, office gear, and big wages.

If the hourly rates of nearby web development companies are too high for your budget, you can simply outsource elsewhere. There are plenty of service providers across the globe that have a wide range of rates. 

However, don’t get carried away with cheap rates — there are tons of companies that make dreamy promises but can’t deliver on their words. Make sure you carefully vet them to make sure you're really saving money and getting the quality service you need.

Read here to know how much to expect when you decide to outsource web development services: “Web Development Costs

Short-Term Commitment

Outsourcing web development companies offer the luxury of not needing to commit. See, web developers are humans too. They have families and bills just like everybody, and most likely, most of them prefer full-time roles rather than contractual projects. 

With a web development company, you’re not obligated to keep team members no longer needed for the project.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you agree on a short-term contract, their responsibilities will end once the contract expires or when the project is turned over. Make sure there are contingencies in the agreement that allows you to avoid those risks and hold them accountable if they fail to complete a project before the contract length expires.

3 Drawbacks of Hiring a Web Development Firm

There is no risk-proof investment. Hiring a web development firm also has its drawbacks, here are the common ones:

Less Control

When you chose to outsource your project, you’re risking losing direct control of their workflow. You will need to rely on them to fulfill their responsibilities.

This can be a huge upset if the service provider is less committed to your project and might leave you feeling that you’re business is just another number for them. 

Less control can also lead to a lack of transparency and accountability. However, there’s still hope as service providers rely on their reputation and they will strive to earn your good ratings and feedback to get more clients in the future. 

Schedule Delays

If you ever decide to work with a web development company from a different country or even continent, chances are that matching schedules will be a challenge.

Since you don’t control their office time due to time zone differences, you might need to adjust your schedule just to meet with them. This can be a frustrating roadblock in case of urgent concerns and problems.

Also, web development companies have multiple clients all at once — if they get swamped and your project isn’t their biggest one, your requests might not be their priority, leading to turnover delays and more disappointment for you. 

Communication Barriers

Communication isn’t always effective and efficient when working with an outsourced service provider. Rather than an in-house team that directly listens to you, a web development firm will assign a contact point, most likely a project manager, to handle your project. 

You will need to rely on them to trickle down the project’s information to the developers, and your vision might not be conveyed to them clearly.  Miscommunication and misunderstanding are bound to happen at one point or another.

Factors That Influence Web Development Hiring Decisions

It’s a big decision! Don’t be hasty when choosing because you can end up having a bigger headache than a better website. Here are factors that can impact your choice of a web development partner:

  • Skillset
  • Business strategy
  • Budget & cost
  • Communication style

Take your time to carefully assess your company and your needs to see which path you should take. 

Who to Choose When Outsourcing Web Development?

Websites are crucial to showcasing your brand, products, and services. There’s no definitive answer in this article because only you can know which option is best for your project.

Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of each alternative, the next step is to rigidly evaluate your company. 

Do you have the budget to spare if you build your own in-house web development team? How complex is your project? Will you need a lot of developers for your website? These are just some of the few questions that you need to acknowledge to better understand which route is better.

It’s always on a case-by-case basis. Either way, challenges are bound to come up, just make sure you’re always on your toes.

Find the best web development companies on Clutch then take your time to read their profiles, client reviews, and case studies. Use the filters available to narrow your search.

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