I was meeting with a client recently and he mentioned that he was considering hiring a programmer from overseas to help complete a small web project.

He felt it just made more sense financially. I asked him, “Who will be doing the project management, design, information architecture and testing?” He looked puzzled. “Can’t the web developer do all of this?”

As we talked more, I felt I owed it to my client to educate him about what really happens behind the scenes. Obviously, he didn’t understand our profession or was misinformed about how things work. As web professionals, we sometimes expect clients to know everything that goes on as if by magic. But many of the things we do are hidden and just sort of happen without clients really understanding how much work is taking place.

As you may know, a web developer is someone who writes code. On a typical website build, a web developer’s time is just a small part of the overall work, and there are many other players that are involved in a web design project. At Envision, we first started tracking our project hours in 2000. Of the roughly 26,000 – 30,000+ hours we log each year building websites, only 40% of that time has been used by web developers writing code. The remaining is spent planning, designing, testing, integrating SEO, and writing copy.

But there’s a deeper secret here: what’s even more important than the amount of work is the team doing the work.

I’ve always found that solo developers or “manufactured” teams stitched together with outsourcers or freelancers will never deliver the same quality product as a team who has worked together before. In projects where teams knew each other well, work is done more quickly and in turn, clients are happier. Teams including new people (even if they proved to be amazing employees once they settled in) weren’t as successful. All teams needs time for the members to learn about each other, and use that understanding to communicate effectively. Whenever a new team is formed, they need to go through several phases before they can achieve synergy.

When a team of people work together over a period of time, they start sharing common goals and values. Simple back and forth questions and answers are not needed as much. Doubt is replaced with confidence. And as people become confident and stop worrying, they are able to truly focus and get in a state of flow and create something amazing much quicker. Here is a great book on Flow .

Something truly special happens when you have the right team. Some of the greatest Stanley Cup or Super Bowl winners are not teams full of super stars . The greatest teams are made up of team players working together for a common goal.

Next time you are considering a new web project, ask to talk to the team. See how they work together. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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