A few years ago, Bashir Naimy looked for an economical way to build a personal website for his own business. The search led him to Freelancer.com, the largest crowdsourcing and outsourcing site in the world. The resulting website made a definite impact on the success of the business—visitors spent more time on the site than before, and a higher percentage of them became clients, particularly for web development services. Now an IT Consultant for the internationally renowned Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) in Oslo, Norway, he remains a staunch advocate of the site. “I still use Freelancer.com even though I know some programming because there are freelancers who have a lot more experience than I have.” When NIFU required some database restructuring and website design, Bashir turned to his business solution of choice. “Freelancer.com has become our second home,” he attests. “Our experience keeps getting better and better each time.”
Freelancer.com recently spoke with Bashir to discuss how Freelancer.com helped NIFU reach its audiences with a new, feature-rich and eye-catching website.
The research institute’s website is a platform where researchers and policymakers worldwide can get up-to-date data on matters related to innovation, research, and education. You’ve recently revamped the site…
Our previous website www.fpol.no was outdated and needed to have some new features such as mailing list, browser pdf viewing, and optional magazine subscription. We also wanted to make it more pleasant to read. In addition, we wanted to use Wordpress for easier management and publication.
…and you found the right people on Freelancer.com.
We first hired a freelancer from Pakistan for the initial design, Wordpress conversion, and improved site functionality. She was not a design expert, but we were fully aware of that. Another project addressed the design, and we got a good designer from Bangladesh to polish the website, redo some minor stuff pointed out by users, and do some language translation. Language was not a problem because they communicated well in English via Skype and phone. We are very pleased with the work and design of our new website www.labconsolutions.com.
You could have had the website designed by a local; why did you take the non-conventional route?
Web page development is extremely expensive in Norway, especially for a small company like ours. Our manager got a quote of US$23,000 from a local design firm for a simple Sharepoint conversion to Wordpress.
When I heard the price, I was shocked. I knew we could do it a lot cheaper through Freelancer.com. If we had gone to a local, the total cost (for the two projects and the upcoming third project) would have been US$32,000, inclusive of minor changes and revisions. Our company saved 97% on Freelancer.com; everything cost US$1,100. Now that is what I call getting your money’s worth.
You also checked out Elance and other similar sites, but opted to use Freelancer.com.
I chose Freelancer.com because your website is professionally designed. There are clean and clear rules regarding how things are processed and I love that both the employer and freelancer are protected by the Milestone Payment System.
The features you earlier mentioned seem to be commonly found on a website. What about them required more experienced developers?
We want search functionality that addresses our specific needs and this isn’t available in the free market; it can only be developed by a freelancer. For example, search functionality with tags that will allow us to search within XML files. This is something that needs to be created since the products available in the market do not fulfill all our specific requirements. The final phase will add more user-friendly functionality to the Wordpress Admin page such that even a novice can work within it and there’d be no need for coding on the user’s part.
For the mailing list, it’s really minimal backend work--how subscribers sign in. We now get subscribers in one list, and those who wish to unsubscribe in another. Changes to existing members are in a separate list that has an export function to Excel and CSV. A function for list editing was also added.
How did site visitors respond to the new look and better user interface?
The response has been really good. The new fresh design leaves a mark on the users that visit it. There’s a more professional feel and look to it and users spend more time on the site. Even the government research consultant who funds our research has been giving us positive feedback. Before the redesign, he didn’t feel that the money spent on the website had any impact because he did not see any tangible proof. Now that we redid the site and added the social media component, the website is being talked about especially in the online research community. Researchers are now spreading and sharing articles, and referring to our site all the time. We are now being noticed and the research consultant recognizes this as well. Site traffic has increased more than 300%. Further funding seems highly likely. Before this change took place, there were plans to reduce funding or cut it out altogether.
Going forward what’s next for NIFU?
We have a new project running on Freelancer.com right now and that’s creating an embedded video player from scratch for our site. We’ve hired a freelancer from India that has a number of jobs under his belt and good ratings. We’ve also posted projects for the creation of our intranet (US$550) as well as an online portal to gather information from schools all over Norway (US$1,100). We post our projects because we want to test new freelancers (the pool is just so big) and you never know, we might come across someone even better. At the very least we will be able to build a list of very talented freelancers that we can hire for other projects.