Moved to self-hosted WordPress

September 23, 2008

For anyone who has subscribed to this blog or follows it regularly, please come on over to my new self-hosted blog, where I’ll continure the thread and maybe add some more.  I haven’t found a way to redirect my WordPress.com RSS readers automatically to the new site.

Here it is: dobesland.com

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Outsourcing web design to india, and how they get such positive reviews

January 1, 2008

I recently completed a project to outsource my web design to a design firm in india.  It was an interesting experience and I learned some things from it.

There were a few hiccups in the process:

  • I wanted a modern table-less layout design, to fit into Web 2.0 and acccessibility guidelines (for no particular reason other than compliance).  The designer could only do table designs.  I suspect this may be because he cuts his photoshop using a tool that outputs tables.
  • I was hoping he could put this directly into my CMS as a template; I want to use CMS Made Simple, but he wasn’t able to figure that one out.
  • The first design we got we didn’t like much, so we had to talk him into making a second design from scratch.  The second design attempt was like the first one, but much worse!  And it didn’t follow our samples very well at all!  Still, he redeemed himself with a pretty nice third design.
  • We always wanted to keep all the design samples around for reference, so when giving feedback we can refer to previous samples he gave us, but he often just deleted the old samples so we couldn’t do that unless we specifically asked him to do so.

In the end, he gave me a feedback of 10 for being such a great client, saying he would love to work with me again.

I guess this buttered me up a bit, so out of kindness I gave him an 8 instead of the 6 that popped into my head first.  Interestingly, he immediately came back and said

“hi dobes….got ur review…with 8 Rating…..we didnt expect this….better…plz withdraw this review…..”

I didn’t feel like I cared much one way or the other, so I retracted my review.  After all, he has 51 other reviews which are either 9 or 10, and getting 8 review might put the poor guy out of business!

If, like me, you’ve noticed the % positive reviews for these indian companies are so good, it’s probably because they’re asking the client remove their review (or not give one) if the review is bad.

If you’re a freelancer on one of those sites, I suggest you also ask your client to give a good review or none, it works and it’ll probably give you more business.


Outsourcing to India?

January 1, 2008

I recently finished reading a very amusing an interesting book – “The Four-Hour Work Week”. This is a very popular book which is primarily about reducing the amount of time you need to work, mostly by setting up online stores, outsourcing, systemizing, and making sure you know what to do once you don’t have to work all the time.

The most amusing and part of part for me was the excerpt from the article My Outsourced Life, where a journalist for Esquire describes how he starts outsourcing as much as possible – including his worry! The author goes on to suggest that outsourcing some things to India is a good idea, since it gives you an experience in managing other people without all the expense of managing other people that cost serious money, and whose mistakes would have serious consequences.  If your man in india screws up, it costs $50 and you have to clean up the mess (do your own research, book your own movie tickets).  If your man in Canada screws up, it costs you $500.  Or something like that.

All the outsourcing websites and firms suggested in the book have since become extremely popular, and using them won’t save you as much money any more.  However, there are still plenty of other outsourcing sites that haven’t caught the wave.  I first tried an ad on elance.com and got very little response, for this reason.  I’ve found another site where I’m confident I can get a better response.

However, I’m faced with a difficult problem: what the hell can I outsource ?

For most things that can be done online, I do them a lot more quickly than I can write a detailed task description to my virtual assistant.

One area where I think there should be an opportunity for a virtual assistant to step in is business plan research.  But, I seem to have some uncertainty here.  I suspect I need to know more specifically what data I’m looking for, and I’m not too sure about that.  Or, I should at least be able to ask for data that I think it is possible to get!

Another question on my mind is how to find the virtual assistant – should I start out on a per-project basis and then branch out into hourly work if I find someone good?  Or hire directly as a virtual assistant and then come up with something for them to do?

So far I’ve outsourced a single project to India – a design for my company website.  The results were fairly good, and very cheap ($50!).  The process of communicating with the design team over there was educational, and I think I learned a lot from it.  So far, so good.