Freelance vs Agency – Which Graphic Design Approach Is Better?
We live in a digital world where every like, social share, and online comment can make or break your business.
One of the best ways to build and expand the online presence of your brand is to create a high-quality website.
However, almost every small business is setting up websites and mobile apps for selling their products or services.
As of January 2019, there were over 1.94 billion websites on the Internet. In other words, you need an expert to build a website that will stand out from your competitors.
That’s why it is imperative to hire the right team of website designers and developers to build your website.
If you make the wrong choice, you are likely to end up overspending your web design budget and even a subpar product. The resulting delay can also result in irrecoverable losses.
Fortunately, globalisation has made it easier to find skilled and experienced professionals to build your website. The two primary alternatives you have are freelancers or web design agencies.
Let’s compare these two options to see which one is the best fit for you.
Taking the Freelance Route
Freelancers are usually self-employed professionals who work as web designers or developers.
The primary responsibility of a freelance designer is to outline basic concepts, create the drafts, and make necessary revisions until the final copy is ready.
Most freelance web designers, however, don’t follow the traditional working hours or office environments when working.
1. Pros of Working with Freelancers
Most freelance web designers tend to develop specialisation as they often focus on a particular field in website design.
While some of them may have expertise in designing e-commerce websites, others may specialise in creating websites for the sports industry, banking and insurance companies, small businesses, restaurants, or public offices.
Hiring a freelancer will be an excellent solution if you need a designer with industry-specific experience.
A freelancer, with relevant designing experience, is better equipped to understand your requirement and produce the desired results in a given time-frame compared to a designer who knows a little bit about everything.
b) Lower Costs
Perhaps the most touted advantage of hiring a freelancer is the reduced designing cost.
Usually, when you hire a freelance web designer, you pay only for hours spent working on your project.
You don’t have to pay for expenses that are not related to your project.
As freelancers don’t have infrastructure overheads or insurance payments, they will often charge you a fraction of what a full-stack web designing agency would cost you.
However, you need to set the terms and conditions of your contract, especially payment schedule, rather carefully.
2. Cons of Working with Freelancers
a) Professional Limitations
Although a freelancer specialises in e-commerce web designing, they are not likely to know everything about it.
The skills and experience they have may fit your requirements now.
However, if you encounter a problem outside of their expertise, it could become a significant obstacle in your path.
To get the job done, you will probably need to start looking for a new freelancer.
That means you will need to pay extra to address a specific issue. It will not only put your budget but also your project timeline at risk.
b) Less Control over Design Process
Most freelance designers will take your suggestions into account when designing your website. However, being experts, they will often have the final say.
Unfortunately, you can’t have a second opinion or a fresh look at a particular design as you are relying on just one person.
So, if the information given to you or the designing process being followed is outdated, there isn’t much you can do about it.
c) Quality and Reliability of Work
Again, most freelancers, especially the top-rated web designers, are very precise and accurate.
However, not all freelancers may act professionally. As there are no set work hours or even a reporting system, keeping track of the work progress becomes an arduous task for the website owners.
Another common issue is that most freelancers take up more than one job at the same time.
As a result, the overall work quality suffers, affecting all of their projects.
Sometimes, web designers may abandon a project if they realise it’s too challenging for them. If the individual disappears in the middle of your project, finding a replacement is time-consuming as well as expensive.
d) Security and Confidentiality
Not all freelancer web designers are willing to sign a contract or even a non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
If a freelancer leaks some of your designing concepts or uses them elsewhere, you can’t take legal action.
There is also a higher chance of getting your confidential business and client information compromised.
Working with a Web Design Agency
A full-stack web designing agency often provides all website design and development related service under one roof.
They may include services ranging from web design and development to SEO and content marketing.
1. Pros of Working with a Web Agency
a) Diverse Set of Skills and Experience
Usually, a web design agency has a team of web designers with a diverse set of skills and industry experience.
Also, to stay ahead of the competitors, a thriving agency has to keep learning new skills and acquiring new technologies.
Both of these factors allow a web design agency to offer you the best possible solutions.
They can provide you with the latest website designs and features that are a result of rigorous brainstorming.
Unlike a freelancer, they will also provide you with the best alternatives, should your project encounter any problems.
b) Reliability and Availability
A web design agency brings an additional level of professionalism to the table as they have a reputation to uphold.
Unlike a freelancer, an agency will never disappear in the middle of your project.
With multiple designers available at your disposal, your project will be completed within the stipulated time.
Also, most agencies provide you with a project manager. You can connect with this person usually by email, phone, or any other communication channel.
Customer support is often a topmost priority for a web design agency. So, the chance of people working on your website ghosting you are next to none.
c) Real-Time Updates and Reporting
Another advantage of working with an agency is the ease of communication.
Most agencies have a project management system in place.
You will get regular updates (daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly) depending on the scope and size of your product.
You can choose one or more communication channels such as email, videoconferencing, phone, and in-person meetings.
d) Quick Changes and Decision Making
Thanks to real-time updates and reporting, you can keep track of your project 24/7.
That, in turn, will help you to identify issues (if any) before it’s too late. Most agencies are keen to take user feedback into account to deliver better results.
However, the number of changes you can make will depend on the scope of your project and your contract terms.
While some agencies may allow unlimited iterations, others may keep it fixed.
The ability to make immediate changes to the design increases the overall efficiency, providing better bang for your buck.
e) Increased Security and Confidentiality
Web design agencies often sign non-disclosure agreements and have water-tight contracts.
Thus, all your business data and website designs will remain safe.
Plus, agencies often tend to have transparent communications to avoid any potential delays and also build trust.
2. Cons of Working with a Web Agency
a) Relatively Higher Cost
One of the most common drawbacks of hiring a web designing agency is the cost.
Compared to a freelancer, a web design agency will charge you significantly more.
In short, you need a sizeable budget if you want to hire a web agency.
However, if you invest your money in the right agency, you will get your money’s worth.
Most agencies will charge you on an hourly basis. Depending on the size of your project, you can negotiate the price.
Some agencies may also be willing to offer a lump sum package.
The second issue is the location. While it is easier to deal with a remotely located freelancer, it is better to work with an agency located nearby your business.
So, you have to choose from a limited number of options if you want to hire a web design agency.
However, with real-time communication channels like Skype and increased digitisation, many web design agencies are overcoming the hurdle of location.
Depending on the scope of your project, you can compromise on location, and choose an agency based in a different city or even country.
Although the final choice is yours, it is better to work with a web designing agency.
Of course, it will cost you more.
However, web design agencies also have more resources, varied industry experience, and offer better quality control.
Plus, they are a one-stop-shop for all your website designing and development related needs.
Just make sure to identify and compare all your potential options before making the final decision.
Feel free to talk about your web designing needs and goals in the comments section below.
Author Bio: Vimal Shah is the Co-Founder of Agile Infoways Pvt Ltd, a web and mobile app development company. He has 15+ years of hands-on experience in design and development and heads the key technical and management operations at Agile Infoways.