Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm a freelance solo web developer/designer/iPhone app maker by night (IT technician by day) and I'm interested in developing a social network site to go public (like Facebook, fingers crossed for half a billion users). But I'm concerned that I'm not going to manage this on my own, being only able to dedicate weekends/evenings to it.

I would class my self as an intermediate web dev but by no means have I written something as large scale as an online community.

When does a project become too big for one person and when do you bite the bullet and hire someone/team up with another web dev?

share|improve this question
Sorry to destroy your dreams, but if you have the necessary budget to promote your site, you also have enough money to work on it fulltime, with a team large enough to make it professionally. The social network market is already crowded, you probably won't find a large-enough audience without a lot of money to spend on advertising. – user281377 Jan 19 '11 at 9:54
It will be too big when you have just a dozen users. You will be so busy responding to their requests, you will have no time to develop. The less time you develop, the more reponding you will need. Stop responding and they leave, stop developing and they leave. – mattnz Jun 24 '14 at 4:32
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is not your problem. Not many people who have created a large-scale community site ever built one before. When you get to the point that you are spending so much time getting new users that you can't do any development, you find a partner or hire a programmer. Much easier to make a pitch after you've built a sizable and growing user base. Also helps if you demonstrate a certain level of commitment.

There's always time to program a site that doesn't have any visitors.

share|improve this answer

I would say that its never a good idea to go alone. You should always have a coding buddy as Jeff Atwood points out in this article.

share|improve this answer
Whats your advice on finding a coding buddy? I dont want to hire someone as such but team up with someone (like a partnership) – benhowdle89 Jan 19 '11 at 10:08
@benhowdle89 If your idea is good enough, I don't think you should have trouble finding a buddy programmer who is as passionate about your idea as you. If you are not able to find even one then there are always sites like StackOverflow which can help you out in tough situations. – Mayank Jan 19 '11 at 10:15
Why is my answer downvoted? :( It would be nice if the person downvoting could also give a reason so that I may get a chance to improve upon my answer. – Mayank Jan 19 '11 at 14:07
My guess is the down voter does not believe in sharing the billions in profit the venture will make..... – mattnz Jun 24 '14 at 4:35
When does a project become too big for one person and when do you bite

the bullet and hire someone/team up with another web dev?

When do you know when you are grown from a boy to a Matured Man? The project also lies in the same plane, it all happens suddenly when your focus lies fully on it.

share|improve this answer

You probably need to plan out some user stories, develop them and then measure your throughput. Then look at the minimum number of user stories you think you need for your app to become viable and if the end date is too far away then you know you need some help just purely on the time side of things.

Also, if you're really looking to deliver the next killer app, then you need to take a honest look at your own abilities. If you're not (by your own admission) an exceptional web developer, you might end up delivering a solution that isn't quite good enough and therefore fails in the marketplace to get that viral lift it will need.

You also need to think about Graphic Design and Ux - these are usually specialist skills that make or break your new start-up site.

In terms of scalability? Use cloud services, that's what they're designed for. Needing to scale is a nice problem to have :)

share|improve this answer
Two problems - thoughput will plummet with customer requests having prioirty, and technical excellence has nothing to do with success. – mattnz Jun 24 '14 at 4:33

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.