I’ve been looking for a company to do webpage design for me now. I’m looking for something on-par with http://www.guildwars.com or http://www.worldofwarcraft.com. Pretty high standards, but this is my main marketing venue other than graphics.
One thing I’ve found is you can get a pretty good idea of the quality of a company in the first 5 minutes. How quickly do they respond to an inquiry? Do they ask intelligent questions? Are they going to detail their work, or do the bare minimum to meet the requirements?
I don’t have that big of a sample set yet, but from what I’ve seen US companies are a lot more likely to ignore inquiries than foreign countries. I think the foreign countries are hungrier for your dollars (which is good).
Maybe it’s just bad luck with Brazil, but for 2 / 2 times I’ve talked to companies there now, they’ve tried to take advantage of me. First was the art team that wanted $60K to do the art to me, the equivalent of $240K in US purchasing power. Just nuts. Then I spoke to a web design firm, who while professional, wanted $11K for the website at $25 an hour. In terms of purchasing power, again that’s like asking for $100 an hour, which is unreasonable. Why would I bother outsourcing to be charged US rates? Also the hours don’t make sense – they put down 320 hours for the coding alone. How the heck does writing HTML take 320 hours? The art, I can see it, because time = quality. HTML is trivial though.
I’ve gotten pretty good responses from India, the Ukraine, and especially the US. When my inquiries are not ignored, I seem to get the most intelligent and professional responses from the US, and the best service. The prices are higher, but are are still surprisingly often competitive with other countries. I think this is because the other countries tend to raise their rates up to US standards, rather than charging what is locally competitive. But with some extra work I’ve found I can still find the good deals and get good quality work done (as per my current art team).