Outsourcing code? Here’s How to Avoid Bad Coding Companies

hey reliable - Mary Marnell by Mary Marnell
October 26, 2016
Outsourcing code? Here’s How to Avoid Bad Coding Companies

Before starting Reliable, we ran a creative marketing/design agency that used to outsource code. Like thousands of other agencies and companies (maybe even yours!)—we experienced nothing but headaches and heartache along the way.

Finding good coders is hard. Many of them never get things right the first time, and every time you send in fixes, another dozen issues seem to pop up. Maybe you’ve experienced this too.

After losing clients whose deadlines we missed, wasting months of our lives going back and forth with changes, and spending thousands of dollars on companies who gave us broken, empty promises, we asked ourselves, “what would we do differently?”

At that moment, our new company, Reliable was born. Reliable is a company that codes other agencies’ and companies’ web designs, turning them into beautiful front-end or WordPress code.

It started as our attempt to “stick it” to all the companies who had wronged us and transformed into something bigger very quickly. When we realized how life-changing it was for people to have a “reliable” source to turn to, we became more passionate than ever to spread the word, and help as many companies & designers as we possibly could.

Here are the top 3 things we learned along the way. Whether you work with us, or someone else, treasure these 3 secrets. They’ll save you from a lot of headaches, and add years to your life.

Secret #1: “Perfect” code is actually not the top criteria to look for! (Say what!?)

What is “perfect” code anyway? Is it code that follows all the “rules” like W3C compliance, etc.? Is it code that doesn’t have a single extra line like a Hemingway novel?

Here’s our rule of thumb for good code:

It works on all the modern browsers and devices that our customers use. And it loads quickly.

What else could you really ask for? If a developer can achieve those two feats, throw your money at them as fast as you can because it’s a lot harder to find than you might imagine.

The truth is, W3C compliance and other “validators” aren’t our top priority. (If you’re unfamiliar with them – these are “standards” some companies decided on that determine if code is “good” or not). Yes, we do our best to meet them—and usually do—but at the end of the day, we care about speed and function. Plus great coders break those rules all the time in order to achieve results.

Want proof? Run through the W3C validator. There are over 50 errors! Yet Facebook is arguably the best company in the world at making its website show up, work, and load fast on any browser, on any device, at any time. Whether you’re on a 10-year-old Nokia or the latest and greatest desktop computer – Facebook will work for you. That’s because their coders are smarter than the W3C people. They can formulate solutions to problems that W3C simply doesn’t understand.

When you truly know your craft, you can break the rules. That’s why, when we hire our coders, we of course look at their code, but the most important thing we do is test their work on as many devices and browsers as we can. This shows us if they understand cross-browser and cross-device functionality.

Get samples from any developer you’re interested in using, and test their code on as many modern browsers and devices as you possibly can. If they’re glitchy, take forever to load, or look “off” on multiple devices, that’s a red flag.

However, a W3C test, to be honest, is a pretty useless test. A website can be bloated, slow, and glitchy and still pass it.

Use your own common sense and try the site out on a multitude of platforms. That’s the only way to get a sense of how “perfect” the code really is.

Secret #2: If perfect code isn’t everything, what is?

So we’ve established that “perfect” code is super subjective. What’s the most important thing to look out for then? Well, remember what’s important is that your site shows up on all browsers/devices and loads quickly.

What ensures that all of that happens? Testing. AKA quality assurance.

Good companies invest more in quality assurance than almost anything else. They have multi-layered testing cycles that catch bugs and squash them in place. It’s like the old adage about writing that says, “Real writing happens during editing.”

The same is true for code. Real coding happens in QA (quality assurance).

For example, at Reliable, here’s our quality assurance process:

  1. The initial coder(s) do their best to find bugs on every browser and device. When they’re done…
  2. A dedicated tester then does the same, with “fresh eyes”, and passes fixes along to the coders.
    These guys and gals go back and forth among themselves until they’re happy and bug-free.
  3. (This step is completely unique to us) They then pass it off to a designer who compares the site to the original design files. The designer gives fixes to the coder(s) until he or she is happy. This is crucial because developers don’t have the sharp eyes that designers do. Our designers spot things in your design files that it’s possible a designer could miss. So to ensure we match your files perfectly, we have a designer to ensure total accuracy.
  4. And finally, before passing it off to our clients, our amazing customer service team tests it out themselves and passes along fixes if necessary.

Bugs happen. They’re inevitable. The more cycles of QA (quality assurance) you go through, the more you catch. The idea is to keep cycling until you can’t find any. Only then do we send it off to the clients.

So, make sure to ask any company you’re interested in working with about their quality assurance and testing process.

If they start stuttering, stammering, or beating around the bush run for the hills.  Quality assurance is what will take your headaches away more than just about anything.

Secret #3: Do you like them?

When our agency used to outsource code, we never felt “valued” or like we really mattered to the companies we worked with. Their communication was dull and lifeless and made us feel like a number. It didn’t seem like they really cared or like they really understood us or “got” us.

In creating Reliable, we wanted to totally flip that around. In our official company mission, we state that our goal is to literally make our customers smile. We want them to feel valued, appreciated, and cared for.

So the final test when you’re checking out a company is to ask yourself if you like them.

If you don’t, it’s going to be a long, bumpy ride.

But if you do like them, it can actually be a lot of fun. (I know, “fun” and “outsourcing code” used to be opposites. We’re trying to change that.)

A few things that contribute to “liking” a company, as well as red flags of bad service:

  1. Do they answer all of your questions? Often, we’d ask 5 questions and only get answers to 2 or 3, so we’d have to send multiple emails to get all of our questions answered. Have you ever experienced that?
  2. Do they answer your questions in full? When we did get answers – they were incomplete and filled with laziness. Getting straight answers seemed impossible.
  3. Did they answer your questions in a timely manner? Something else we experienced was, after paying, suddenly companies started responding very slowly to us.
  4. Did they make you feel like you were “bothering” them by asking your questions? Often, we got the impression that the person on the other side of the screen was thinking, “Jeez – will these people ever stop asking questions!?”

Companies that put effort into how they communicate are good companies to work with. They understand that communication and making you feel valued are so crucial to a great experience.

In conclusion

Make any coder or company you’re considering hiring pass these 3 tests.

It only took us years of our lives and thousands of dollars to figure this stuff out, so we hope you’ll put it to good use.

In creating Reliable, we created a PSD to HTML company that accomplishes everything above with flying colors. Our coders are amazing. Our quality assurance process is thorough and precise. And our customer service team is friendly and guaranteed to make you smile.

Making you smile, as cheesy as it sounds, is actually one of our official company goals. See for yourself — reach out today at

Questions or comments about this post? We're here for you at!
Send a quick email