Web design agency or freelancer? It's a long running debate and one that every company will need to face, choosing the right person or team for your digital services is vital, so you need to be sure you're making the right choice.
Without a doubt at the centre of every successful company is well created and expertly executed digital marketing campaigns; this includes their websites, SEO, web applications, copywriting and so on. It goes without saying that to survive in today's markets a company needs to implement tactful and diligent digital services.
The problem that many companies face though is not how they use their digital services, it is who they go to create them.
I'm not talking here about 'who' in a sense of, 'which web agency you should choose' or 'the best web agencies out there'; likewise this isn't the case of 'the hottest freelancers to build your website'. I'm talking about the bigger picture here, the question at the base of it all; for your company's digital marketing services, should you go to a a web design agency or go to freelancer?
When it comes down to it, working with freelancers and web designers both have their benefits. Personally I think it is a decision that is subjective to the kind of services that you are looking for. Nevertheless, universally it can be a tricky decision to make. So, to advise you in the right direction, we have outlined some of the pros and cons of working with freelancers and web design agencies.
Working with Freelancers
Many folks in the digital marketing trade have had some first hand experience as a freelancer; whether they started out as one and landed an agency role, or they may do some moonlighting on the side as their own boss. Some people even prefer to build their career as a freelancer as it gives them more variety, freedom and in the case of many web designers, it allows them to focus specifically on their own chosen area of expertise.
So let's take a look at some of the pros of working with a freelancer;
Specialise in a niche: Quite often the reason that a freelancer chooses to stay a freelancer is down to the fact they specialise in a niche which isn't required on a regular basis in an agency; thus allowing them to work on what they are exceptionally good at for a wide range of clients. So if a client's website needs some killer illustrations or they want some onsite videography then there is no doubt that you will be able to find an artisan freelancer who will get the job done perfectly for you.
Cost: Many people find that working with a freelancer is cheaper than working with a web design agency. Obviously this depends on what sort of service you are looking for; if you require a complete website build then outsourcing to more than one freelancer can run up a large bill. On the other hand if you are just looking for one particular service then it is usually cheaper to work with a sole freelancer.
Competitive industry: Again this reverts to the issue of cost. In a competitive industry where many small companies are springing up and needing websites, costs holds a lot of sway. Obviously working with a freelancer poses a more cost-effective option. Freelancers are often cheaper than web design agencies and due to the fact the competitive pool is full of freelancers who need work, you may find that you can squeeze in some haggling to get a cheaper deal.
Flexibility: This is an appealing point for many companies working with freelancers. Flexibility is very important and freelancers can provide it. due to the fact that a freelancer isn't burdened with the responsibilities and overheads of an agency, this means that they are flexible to travel to client's locations and work on a more irregular time scale. This allows freelancers to flex their schedule to cater for needs and priorities as far as their needs for deadlines, changes etc. go.
Now let's take a look at some of the cons of working with a freelancer;
Unfamiliar with your company: It goes without saying that to get the best results from a digital marketing campaign, it really helps if the person who is creating it for you knows your company. Obviously this kind of relationship takes time to build with an in-house member of staff, but with a freelancer it can be very difficult to build a successful working relationship when they aren't based in-house for most of the time. As a result elements of your digital marketing campaigns may lack fidelity to your company.
Inconvenient: Of course, this completely depends on the freelancer you are working with but logically speaking it is far less convenient working with freelancers than with a web design agency. Obviously this is fine when you are working through a brief, but what happens if you need to request an urgent change on your project or you need to re-brief the freelancer it can be very difficult when they are off-site. This sort of inconvenience means that projects and tasks are harder to complete and therefore they take longer, which can cause problems when a deadline is looming.
Reliability: Again this relates to the lack of an on-site team. Due to the fact that a freelancer could be anywhere at any time it means that getting in contact with them at any point is a chancy thing. Obviously most freelancers are reliable and committed, but there have been some incidents whereby freelancers have disappeared from what seems like the face of the earth mid-project.
Limitations: Usually you would hire a freelancer to take care of certain specifics in the construction of your digital marketing campaign, but in some cases companies have been known to take on a freelancer for the entirety. This poses a problem when freelancers themselves are limited but they agree to take on a project much bigger than their abilities allow. As a result your outsourcing to a freelancer experiences a double outsource; when freelancers outsource their work to other freelancers. Obviously this affects the consistency and the quality of the end result of a project. Projects that are completed by a team who work together in close proximity come out noticeably better in the end.
Working with a Web Design Agency
Like freelancers, there are many web design agencies around and likewise there are pros and cons to working with one. So let's take a look at some of the pros of working with a web design agency.
Eclectic team: We spoke of niche specialisation within the freelance pool. On the other hand, a web design agency benefits from being an all encompassing service that, in most cases, will accommodate all of your web design and digital marketing needs. Web design agencies consist of teams of multi-faceted talent boxes that cover many areas of web design and development; as well as digital marketing and ecommerce. This means that all of your design and marketing needs are catered for by the same team in the same studio; meaning that the end product is often more fluid and consistent than if you were to employ several freelancers to create your website for you.
Ongoing service: Dependant on what sort of service you choose, when you work with a design agency, you will receive an ongoing service, whereas with many freelancers the working relationship ends with the handover, most web design agencies offer ongoing support such as SEO and marketing services that not only draw more custom to your company but it also builds stronger campaigns due to the fact an agency will get to know your company and therefore create more familiar and convincing material.
Broader range of resources: As well as the amount of services that a web design agency will offer, another benefit is the fact that they offer many more resources than a freelancer typically would. This means a broader range to software licenses, a team that specialise in more areas than a freelancer would and with all this comes more possibilities for your website.
Efficiency: Working with a team that are all based in the same building has its benefits; one of these is the efficiency of execution when it comes to working on a project. Due to the fact that an agency consists of many members in a team integrated in one studio, the ability to execute multiple tasks across different areas of a project at once means that efficiency is often much better than a sole freelancer who works alone or may need to outsource elements of a project.
Experience: Finally and most importantly is experience. It goes without saying that with experience comes proficiency and familiarity to industry practice; which in the end translates into overall quality and success of a project. The level of experience is a quality subjective to the freelancer or agency at hand. and therefore it is impossible to say that one branch of designer possess more than the other, though what should be noted is the amount of clients that both can take on board.
A freelancer will only be able to take a small number of clients onboard at any one time and be able to deliver a quality website; designs take time and working solo means that it will take a lot longer to produce a good website than it would for an agency. An agency on the other hand will be able to take and more clients at one and be more time efficient; due to the fact that there are more people on board who possess more experience dealing with more clients.
While this doesn't weigh in favour of either freelance or agency, what needs to be taken into account is that quality and time restraints. If you want an exceptionally brilliant website but you have no pressing time issues then a freelancer is a great choice. On the other hand if you want an exceptionally brilliant website but you are pressed by time then you may want to consider an agency.
And now some cons for working with a web design agency
Cost: Web design agencies are noticeably more expensive to work with than freelancers. While this is true this can both be a pro and a con. If you are only looking for one particular service then you may find a web design agency a bit steep for your budget. though on the other hand, if you are looking for multiple services you will find that web design agencies do offer a good value for money.
Flexibility: Web design agencies are usually based in their own studio which is obviously off the client's site. This means that any form of meeting between the client and the web design agency needs to be arranged in advance and is subject to distance. Obviously this can pose problems if an emergency arises, but applications such as Skype and video conferences can help to overcome this.
The debate continues
When it comes down to it the choice of freelancer or web design agency is one that is fitted to the dynamics of the client concerned. Things that need to be taken into account is the size of the client's business, their requirements and services that they require. For smaller companies looking for their first website then the benefits of cheaper services and and flexibility may be a good route to consider.
On the other hand, larger organisations who are looking for a stronger and more encompassing asset for their business will no doubt benefit more from the experience and range of services that a design agency can provide for them.
If you are looking for a website for your business, or need advice as to whether to go freelance or design agency, why not get in touch? We can help you choose from what's offer for your business and how you the right services can help your company grow.