Here is a brief primer of the dominant marketplaces to hire web developers. Two of them (Freelancer.com & Upwork) are open-for-all marketplaces where a project can be put out to bid on and the other two are higher-end which supplies developers that have been thoroughly vetted.
Made up from the merger of Elance and oDesk Upwork is a marketplace that allows people to post projects and developers to bid on those projects.
Like Upwork, Freelancer.com is a marketplace where employers and employees are able to find each other. The site allows employers to post work to get done. Anybody is then able to offer quotes to complete the project, upon which point the original employer is able to award the work.
Pros and cons of the above two
While a job could probably be done for cheaper on Freelancer.com and Upwork, usually projects that is posted get bids that vary so far in price it can get quite confusing to know how much a project *should* cost. I never put up a job to bid on instead I contact developers directly based on jobs, rankings and cost per hour but even this has its shortcomings as the developer may not be experienced enough for your job and you get what you pay for if you on a tight budget.
Recently there have been more professional attempts to supply experienced developers to projects. While these companies utilize freelancers, they do various tests to make sure the developer is experienced enough. Read about them below.
Unlike the two above Toptal screens and chooses only the “best” developers for the job. They have an internal team of engineers and designers who work with clients to help them understand who exactly they need for their project. Then they hand-pick members of the vetted developers in their network who they think would be perfect for the job and let them meet the client.
Gigster connects freelance developers with clients and has a project manager which oversees the project. Unlike Toptal where you mostly work directly with the developer during the project, Gigster assigns a project manager who is your primary point of contact.
When to use who
With Upwork and Freelancer.com when you have a small budget and flexibility in quality. Toptal and Gigster when you want at quality job and can afford to pay for it. What I like about Toptal and Gigster is that you are getting a freelancer that has been screened which is great if you want to hire developers for your company but don’t want to go via expensive recruiters or don’t have time to hire people based on trial and error.
The difference between Toptal and Gigster
While Upwork and Freelancer is similar; I believe there is a key difference between Toptal and Gigster. The biggest difference is that Gigster touts its “artificial intelligence” platform that can apparently give you fixed price quotes on the fly. Another issue is that under a standard project you do not own the code that Gigster developed for you, they still own it and license it to you (unless you are willing to pay extra to own the code). While I have never used them, Gigster instant quotation and code reuse policies just gives me a cookie-cutter vibe, yes some developers reuse certain code from project to project but for some reason I’m not convinced. On the other hand all the work that Toptal does is 100% owned by the client so it’s like the traditional model of having an employee and the work he does for the company belongs to the company.