I am in the process of outsourcing a MVP website to vendors in the asian region. Although I have no questions about the quality of programming of some of the vendors, I am concerned with the web design.
I am looking for a slick Web 2.0 look and feel but many vendors fail to produce a design even close to my expectations.
How do you get your website development done? Do you find a local designer to create a PSD and hand it over to the vendors overseas? This adds to the project cost as I believe local designers are not inexpensive. Also, how do I find local designers If I have to go that route?
In my opinion, you typically want to separate the design and development aspects of creating a website when dealing with individuals, versus a firm that can provide the complete package. Design and development require different mindsets and it takes a unique and/or very experienced person to do both parts well (contrary to what many programmers who like to think of themselves as designers may believe!).
I would recommend working with a designer to do the site design and then hand that over to the developers so all they have to do is cut it and skin the website. This allows both parties to focus solely on doing what they do well.
While the saying 'you get what you pay for' basically holds true, that's not to say you can't find a good designer for a bargain price. The web design field is flooded, so newcomers who aren't connected with a firm or group are often forced to work for peanuts until they can build a portfolio up, even if they have the skills and a lot of talent.
The best way to find these up-and-coming designers is to simply go to the places where they showcase their work with fellow designers. I'd recommend starting with Abduzeedo, Dribble, Logopond, and the web section of deviantART. Look for a designer who has a style you like, check out their additional work on their personal website, and then drop them a line. Chances are they're not going to have any Nikes or Microsofts in their portfolio, so you should be able to hire them for an affordable price.
My company uses offshore resources constantly (hence the name Trishore) and what I have found is that if you are very specific with the offshore teams they will deliver what you want. The way I have found to do this is by writing detailed requirements and constantly (daily if possible) checking on the work to ensure it is going the direction you want and, if not, give them the feedback to get them back on track. Along with requirements any mockups that you can provide them are helpful. The mockups can be created using many tools (mockupscreens.com) so you do not have to know html. Hope this helps.
I've been working for software outsourcing companies in Vietnam for years and I'm sure that most of the time we can deliver as high quality software as you expect, but there are some intrinsic criteria.
First, you must provide graphic design, it's the best way because most outsourcing companies don't have high skilled designers and they will use local designers if have to. It can lower your total cost, but it may lower quality too.
Secondly, provide as detail requirement as possible, try your best with initial requirement, we are now familiar with all kinds of agile processes but believe me, it's far different from what a company tell you and what they really do. Don't be agile or too agile if you can.
Third, keep your eyes with progress and ask for weekly release (although there may be not much different in releases).
Use a designer familiar with your market and your audience. Probably a US designer / user experience (UX) guru. Have them design / mock up every single page of your site / app if you plan to offshore the development. The comment of being specific is serious and leave no questions or doubt for the devs.
You can find good design and dev in the states for good rates.