The Evolution of Web Development Models

With the rise of globalization, web development companies are able to work on any project from any location at any time of day. This trend of location independence has lead to different web development models in recent years, including boutique, offshore, and hybrid.

While there are pros and cons to each model, offshoring has the highest potential for significant cost savings and the boutique model will have the highest costs with the greatest level of personal interaction. Downsides of offshoring may include difficulties in communicating and working with a remote team while a boutique model excels at a close working relationship with clients. The third type of web development model, hybrid, blends the best parts of both the offshoring and boutique models to create the optimal experience for clients.

Web Development Models

Duo got its start as a boutique web development agency, in 1999. In 2016, the global open source company CIGNEX Datamatics made an investment in Duo to offer various project engagement models, including onsite, offshore, and hybrid models to maximize value for our clients.

In this post, we’ll share the benefits and drawbacks of boutique, offshore, and hybrid web development models.


Boutique web development models are generally small, US-based development shops. Commonly smaller teams, boutique agencies are made up of visual, UX and interaction designers, web developers, marketers, and project managers. The in-house team at boutique agencies will guide you through every stage of your website project, working together to achieve the goals of your organization.


  • Hands On: Smaller firms have the luxury of getting to know your project inside and out.
  • True Partnership: Generally, boutique firms not only take on actual development but act as consultants who can provide ideas and recommendations for your web presence as a whole.


  • Expense: A boutique development team has the potential to be more expensive because the experienced hands-on team handles every aspect of your project from start to finish in the US where expenses tend to be higher.
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Offshore web development is the practice of hiring an external organization to perform some business functions in a country other than your own. Given the rapid growth of offshoring, companies have started to use offshore development in countries with a lower cost per hour developer model.


  • Cost Control: Offshoring allows your budget to go farther. Using offshore resources may save tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in development fees from an US-only based approach.  
  • Around the Clock Service: Highly skilled staff are available 24/7. The time difference when working with resources in countries like India and China allows work to be done around the clock, adding a competitive advantage for your project.


  • Remote Team: For some projects it can be difficult to engage solely with a remote team. With offshoring, you don’t get much opportunity for face to face communication or collaboration.


The hybrid model combines a highly-skilled, business-focused strategic team that works face-to-face with clients with technical teams in both the US and abroad, allowing for greater efficiency and scalability for enterprise clients. Combining top level planning and architecting with flexible, virtually unlimited production positions the hybrid model as a leader in the web development marketplace. The hybrid model works especially well for larger technology projects, in addition to content migration and integration projects.


  • Reduced Costs: Businesses using a hybrid model will save compared to US-only based teams while not incurring costs often hidden in fully offshore models, like travel expenses, late night conference calls, and work that may require corrections.
  • Minimal Pain Points: Cultural and communication differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings that can negatively affect your experience when working with an offshore team. The hybrid model ensures that you have US based senior leadership available for your needs at anytime throughout the project. This ensures that everyone is communicating on the same page.

I believe that the hybrid web development model truly encompasses the best parts of the boutique and offshore models, while removing the potential drawbacks from each. By focusing on this model, Duo will now be able to offer our clients both the in-house expertise of our Chicago team as well as the offshore resources available through our partnership with CIGNEX.

This allows clients to benefit from significant cost savings while getting the same level of support and collaboration that they have come to expect from working with Duo. As globalization and offshoring grow in popularity, I predict that the hybrid model will emerge at the forefront of web development across the globe.

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