Choosing Your Development Partner and Getting What You Pay For

Barry Harrison · Mar 9, 2016 · 3 min read · Share:

Choosing Your Development Partner and Getting What You Pay For
Illustration by Emily Carlton

We know. It’s really difficult to resist the allure of the low-priced option. Everyone loves a bargain. Over the past 14 years we’ve seen many potential clients choose developers based on their hourly rate over their skills and expertise. Rarely does it end well.

Back in November 2013, after lengthy and detailed discussions, I sent our Master Service Agreement expecting to get started with a prospective client. They replied:

“We believe your company will be the one, not only to make a great product, but will have the expertise needed to ensure the code is efficient, security flaws are minimal, plus your knowledge of the US market will help us get a foothold there.”

And then they hired another agency. Why? They were up-front about their reason: Lower hourly rates.

Two-plus years later, they circled back with this update.

“I wish we had gone with a company like yours. I would not be in the mess I am in. The firm we hired turned out to be spaghetti coders, so we moved to a local group. They have proved a disaster too. Losing customers daily. You live and you learn.”

Here’s another email (April 2013) from a potential client enticed by the promises of an offshore agency.

“We've decided to go with a more affordable option... Thank you for being patient and working with us over the past few weeks. Trust me it was a very hard decision for us to make esp. as you are awesome and we're very impressed by your skills and integrity.”

18 months later we noticed an alpha version of their site which, filled with dummy content, was (inexplicably) live and public. This raises a big red flag.

The same version, last archived in the Wayback Machine in August 2015, has since been taken down. Over two years wasted. Over 50k down the drain. Another lesson learned, the hard way.


The fact is, application development is not a commodity. Experience matters. Expertise matters. What seems like a bargain seldom turns out to be one in retrospect.

In choosing a development partner, you’re taking a risk that can make or break your business.

We minimize this risk for our clients by:

  • Taking the time to understand your business and customers
  • Thinking strategically
  • Communicating clearly and often
  • Architecting a flexible solution we can expand on
  • Writing clean, well-tested code
  • Defining an MVP and focusing on the customer experience
  • Delivering the greatest value we can within your budget

It’s not that there aren’t trade-offs. There certainly are. But compromising on code quality or hoping inexperienced developers can solve tough technical problems doesn’t save money in the long run. If there is a long run.

Of course, we also hear from prospective clients who, having outsourced their development to India or the Ukraine, already know how much the “low-price” option may end up costing.

“Based on previous experiences with other developers, I resigned myself to constant disappointment. Working with Resolve Digital has changed my mind, it's development the way I always hoped it could be.”

— Philip Remley, CEO, Degree Story

If you’re looking for a development partner, remember, you get what you pay for.


"Choosing Your Development Partner and Getting What You Pay For" was written by Barry Harrison. Editing by David Jones.


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