Full Stack Developers vs Specialist + Outsourcing
The 21st century has seen much change happen socially and culturally in no small part due to the advancements in internet and computing technologies. The internet has become like a new dimension of society through which work, communications, shopping and entertainment all now channel.
Most competent businesses took the first steps into digital business right then and there, taking grip of the technology when it was not only far simpler than that of today, but held against completely different standards than those of modernity.
The Modern Internet
With the explosion of broadband internet, many new services became possible through this new unified channel. Not only was it possible to stream all manner of media, but the equally advancing computers on the user end also made possible a new level of interactivity never before possible.
Modern websites are more like streamed applications than a structured set of documents. With the advent of HTML5, AJAX, Java and similar technologies, websites could now animate, display multiple layers of complex information, and interact like a native program.
While this technology was for a brief moment a novelty, it has since become integral to a modern web presence. And this is in a world where no company large or small can afford to have a nonexistent or even subpar web presence.
The problem with implementing this modern type of presence is quite vast, entailing a variety of technical skills which are highly sought after, and therefore often somewhat pricy.
Considering very few companies which aren’t themselves technology-oriented have such a pool of talent within their staff, almost all of them must search outside for these services.
As a result of this, a number of different channels for acquiring services like these have taken form, from freelance workers to third party companies specializing in the entire implementation. With all of these channels being lauded by one group or another as the best optimal option, it can be a very confusing experience for even the most savvy organization.
The Many Sciences of Design and Development
The difficulty comes, again, from the diversity of skills and sciences which are involved in achieving the modern standards for the web. With the more application-like nature of these modern site designs, a need for sharp UI design skills is paramount, along with top notch programming skills for both browser-based languages (Java/HTML5/AJAX) as well as server languages (Perl/PHP/ASP).
However, these skills cannot accomplish the desired effect without a third discipline which has become a very big topic in recent years.
User experience (UX) is a multi-faceted science based upon understanding the impact of design and presentation choices on the user’s perception. Along with this, UX also extends to understanding the psychological elements of how a user will perceive a page on first encounter, based upon its aesthetics, layout and order of content.
Finally, one of the more difficult tasks for user experience is the taking of proper measures according to eye-tracking, which is the order in which elements are most likely to be noticed by the user. A solid grasp of this can allow designers to be directed to implement layouts which strategically guide users, enabling them to easily understand all the information presented to them and intuitively interact with the site.
Being a hybrid of psychology, design and obscure mathematics, user experience is a field with a relatively high amount of specialism. It has become an entire course set on its own in many technology-oriented learning environments as a result of its diverse sciences as well.
Seeking Professionals – The Myth of the Full Stack Developer
In the light of the many complex skill sets modern web presence requires, a myth has begun to circulate among businesses regarding the existence of the full stack developer.
In theory, a full stack developer is a web professional not only certified in UX, but also UI and graphic design, as well as the full set of programming skills. This developer is exceedingly, and evenly competent in all of these skill sets as well.
While these professionals would appear to be ideal candidates on paper, the truth is that they do not exist. Self-proclaimed full stack developers can be strong in many of the fields in question, but none are excellent across the board.
In reality, if such “perfect” developers did exist, they would be prohibitively expensive for all but the largest corporations.
Given that full stack developers always prove to be a wild goose chase, most companies inevitably come around to the outsourcing option. Acquiring top-notch service from a third party to cover most, if not all facets of implementing a modern site is a very viable possibility.
However, even third party services are likely to not be strong in every single aspect, resulting in some gaps still being present.
In cases such as this, many seek out specialists to fill said gaps, either through a technology staffing service, or seeking out freelance experts.
The Freelance Revolution
Freelance work has become in recent years a preferred way to do things among many of the younger computer experts, from artists and designers to programmers and everything in between.
While companies are often apprehensive to employ independent contractors such as these initially, the perceived risk does not in fact exist.
In modernity, freelance talents often work through an intermediary service. Companies will create accounts with these services, and will either directly hire freelancer members, or place open projects for which they bid.
These services naturally add a small fee to the total price for their services as an intermediary, and to cover the escrow which protects both involved parties correctly.
This results, in most circumstances, in freelance hires looking essentially the same as outsourced services from the logistical and financial side, and often add up to about the same expense per work hour.
While the size of a business can determine which one or many channels are best suited for the task at hand, there does exist a reliable optimal strategy which works for any business size.
Outsourcing the more laborious “foot work” of implementing basic frameworks and getting a basic working design in place is the most logical first step for any business to take.
Upon implementation of this very average-quality but functional web presence, the next logical step to take would be to bring in some freelance experts to build upon this average design, and enhance it to the true desired level of quality.
Freelance UX experts, designers and programmers will be able to rapidly improve a framework which is already present, reducing their expense in man hours and financial costs.
Given that most outsourced services provide equitable packages to implement that average-quality initial design, this becomes not only the fastest and most orderly way to implement a maximum quality web presence, but also the most equitable from all angles as well.
While smaller companies such as startups will inevitably have to lower their goals for “wow factor” in their site design for the time being, this strategy is just as viable for them as it is for a multinational corporation.
Utterly skipping the fruitless search for the mythical full stack developers, and blending the wide coverage of third party outsourcing with the precision of cherry-picked freelance specialists is just logically the most efficient way to go.