A design agency or a freelancer? Which one to choose? It’s a very hard question for many business owners. With so many freelancers and web design agencies offering practically the same services, it’s hard to understand which one is the best fit for you.
As a design agency ourselves, we’re not trying to convince you that the agency is the best option. We’re convinced that there are many freelancers who offer high-quality services. And the opposite is also true, with both freelancers and agencies, you can get bad providers. The choice between a freelancer and an agency depends on your needs, budget and many other criteria.
And to help you make this tough decision, we’ve made a list of pros and cons of hiring an agency vs. a freelancer. But note that we’re going to compare good reliable freelancers and agencies, so we assume that you’ve found them already and it’s just a case of choosing who to go with. Detecting high vs. poor quality providers is another topic for discussion.
Let’s start with freelancers. Freelancers are individual remote workers who you can hire for various projects. There are a lot of freelance websites, where you can find qualified professionals. For some companies, they can be a better fit than an agency. Let’s see why.
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Pros of Hiring Freelancers
The first reason why many businesses choose freelancers over agencies is that they offer more affordable rates. Freelancers set their own rates and you can negotiate the fees based on what services you need. They can charge you both based on hourly rates and per project.
As remote workers, freelancers can work at any time and can change their schedules based on your project’s needs. Some of them can even work at weekends and don’t have strict working hours. This is a big advantage as you can hire them at any time and from anywhere you want.
When working with a freelancer, you will discuss all your project details directly with the person who works on that and not with the intermediaries. You participate in the entire process of your project and can constantly communicate about the project and request changes. For some companies, freelancers have even become part of their team. Also, you can expect a fast response to your feedback.
Usually, freelancers are experts in their fields and are more specialized than agencies. This is especially beneficial if you have very niche tasks that require very specific skills. Also, when you need other services, freelance designers would usually have contacts and can refer to some good professionals.
Cons of Hiring Freelancers
As a freelancer works individually and is the only person responsible for the job, it can be hard to deal with unexpected or emergency situations. These unforeseen situations may prevent the freelancer to do the job and your project can be left uncompleted. Also, it is hard to quickly replace freelancers to compensate for their absence.
Specialization in Only One Field
This is both an advantage and disadvantage. Though specialization means that the freelancer is very good at what they are doing, you can’t assign them other tasks, not related to their specialization.
Let’s say, you need to hire a web designer, and a graphic designer, you’ll need to hire 2 different people. And if they work in different time zones, it would be even harder to manage the workflow.
Yes, most freelancers have flexible work schedules, but that doesn’t mean they are available 24/7. Good freelancers create good systems to manage unexpected situations, but it still doesn’t mean they will be always available. Besides, they work with several clients at the same time, and when you need them, they might be busy working for the other client.
Hard to Replace
Freelancers can offer high-quality work and you may start working with them in a long term, which is great. But, getting acquainted with the product and brand can take a lot of time, and when the freelancer stops working with you, it’d be hard to find a replacement. Moreover, you’ll have to start the whole acquaintance process from scratch.
Longer Turnaround Time
Freelancers work on different projects alone at the same time, which means they work more slowly. If you want to build your website in a short time, a freelancer may not be able to do that. Before collaborating with a freelancer, make sure to clearly define how much time they require for the job, so as you can achieve your project and business goals without delays.
Web Design Agency
Now let’s switch to creative design studios. Web design agencies are also outsourcing vendors, who work from all over the world. They have a team of designers and art directors who work on different projects. An agency would usually have designers specialized in different fields, like UI/UX, and graphic design and work on different ranges of design projects, unlike freelancers. And this is not their only difference.
Pros of Hiring a Web Design Agency
Guarantee of Quality
When working with a design agency, you have a higher chance of receiving a quality project. Freelancers may work today and stop working tomorrow and not care much about their reputation. It is easier to find a good agency than it is to find a good freelancer, as established agencies have proven workflows and years of experience delivering on a variety of projects, whereas with freelancers it is difficult to gauge the reliability.
Whereas agencies do care a lot about their name and reputation. They put a lot of effort into showcasing their work and getting good reviews from their clients. All these reviews and references are a reasonable guarantee that they are doing their job properly.
Besides, agencies usually hire the best talents and the most qualified specialists, so by working with an agency you get to hire a team of professionals.
Fast Turnaround Time
Unlike freelancers, design agencies have a faster turnaround time and can complete the project in much lesser time than freelancers do. Usually, there is more than one person working on your project, hence you receive higher quality and speed. As they have several specialists working on different projects and people who coordinate the work, they delegate the tasks within the team more effectively.
Better Project Management
As I mentioned above, agencies work with several clients too, so a good agency need to have a good project management system. Essentially, they have project managers who handle all client projects and make sure that all the projects are completed on time.
They will delegate your requests to the right team members, so your problem will be solved very quickly. Besides, if any of the members are not available, it won’t affect your project, as it can easily be assigned to another specialist.
Agencies usually look for long-time partnerships, so when you start working with one, you’ll probably work with them for a long time. And this is crucial for website creation and maintenance as websites need ongoing support. Especially, if you have an eCommerce website, you’ll need to make revisions to your website quite often.
Design agencies usually offer more than just web design services. It can be very helpful if you want to outsource several different projects. You will still communicate with the same person for your different projects and won’t have to worry if anything is delayed as the agency will handle all that work.
Besides, what refers to website design and development, there are different website builders and many freelancers are proficient in only one of them. But agencies would offer services for different platforms, and advise you which is the best one for your website.
Cons of Hiring Web Design Agencies
One of the main disadvantages of web design agencies is that they have higher rates than average freelancers. And for some companies, they are not affordable. Agencies have different specialists, project managers and other staff members, they require an office to work in, so they have more expenses than freelancers.
Not Direct Communication
Unlike freelancers, by hiring an agency you will mostly speak with your project manager and not the designers who will work on your project. And for some of you, it may be harder to explain your website’s design preferences and desires. Though, in the case of design agencies, this makes sense, as there are many designers and developers working on your project and it would be practically impossible to talk with all of them to explain what you want.
They Offer Too Much
This is both an advantage and disadvantage. While it’s good to have one partner to outsource all your projects, they may not be able to complete them all in high quality. Agencies offering too many services don’t seem very reliable. They might be great at design but not so skilled in other fields. So, be careful when choosing a design agency.
How to Make the Best Decision for Your Business
Well, the question still remains, how can you make sure, you’re choosing the right contractor? Weighting the pros and cons of working with freelancers and web design agencies, we can make the following conclusions.
Choosing a freelancer makes sense when:
- Your project is small and doesn’t require more than one person to complete it
- You don’t have a big budget
- Your project is not urgent and you don’t need a fast turnaround
- You’re not looking for long-term cooperation
Choosing a design agency makes sense if:
- Your project requires custom and complex design and development and one person is not capable of doing it
- You need a fast turnaround
- You want all your projects done by the same person/agency and don’t want to work with multiple contractors
- You’re looking for a long-term cooperation
- Timely and quality delivery is important for you
As you see, both options have their pros and cons and you need to make your decision based on your project scope and your budget. Remember that a good agency and a skilled freelancer can both provide you with high-quality results.
So, weigh up your pros and cons to find your best contractor.
Increase brand awareness, build trust and drive conversions.
Your business’s website design is one of the most important things to consider, as your future customers will pay attention to how professional your website looks. Visual content and the website architecture actually make more impact on users than the written content. So, no matter how great your writing is if your website is too complicated and users can’t easily navigate there, or you have a bad design, very few users will stay on your website.
Follow these steps to find the best web design company for you:
- Research the company
- Check their portfolio, experience, reviews and recommendations
- Contact with their past clients
- Make a list of services you need
- Make an initial call with the company and discuss all the details of your project
Web design agencies offer a wide range of services. And here are some of them:
- Customized website design
- Customized app design
- Graphic design, including animations
- Website development with a variety of options
- Website hosting and maintenance