Since the dawn of the Information Age (circa 1970s) and the birth of the modern day Internet (circa 1990s), specialized services like website design, online marketing and computer programming have been in high demand. As companies continue to move their efforts online, the need for web savvy individuals will continue to increase – which is where we step in.
There definitely aren’t any “set in stone” rules about when and why you should hire a web design agency versus a freelance designer, but just like any situation, the choice should depend entirely on your individual project needs and the overall needs of your business.
While some companies prefer to work with larger teams, others may opt for more of a “one on one” approach to meeting their web requirements. To help you decide, we’ll list some of the benefits to hiring a web agency versus a local (or overseas) freelancer.
A definite plus to hiring an agency over a freelancer is that agencies will typically have a larger portfolio of websites and clients. This can give you a more accurate picture of their design, development and project management capabilities – as well as any high-profile clients they’ve worked with.
Though a freelancer could boast a list of established clients and diverse creative, the odds of them having sufficient experience in a wide range of industries (like finance, real estate, engineering, automotive) is pretty slim.
Probably one of the major benefits and deciding factors for hiring a web design agency is project management. Different from working with a freelancer, web agencies often designate an account manager to oversee your entire project from start to finish; including discovery, design, development, and deployment.
If you have the technical know-how, hiring a freelancer may be a good choice as you would have direct contact with the designer, but the management of a project is often what ensures that every requirement is met, both technologically and creatively.
Expertise & Services
While a freelancer can draw from their own personal and professional experience, a web agency often has a plethora of additional services and resources that they can bring to the table should the occasion arise. On the other hand, an agency could be limited due to strict internal process, whereas a freelancer is more likely to “roll with the punches” – once they put their creative ego to the side.
A key difference is when it comes to additional services. Agencies usually employ in-house strategists, SEO analysts, social media managers, copywriters, illustrators and branding experts who are all available to contribute to the success of your website. Though your freelancer may “know someone”, having the talent located in one place is always a bonus.
The truth is we’re not in any way discounting the importance or capability of freelance web designers – because many of us started out as freelancers. If you’d like to be more hands-on with your website design, and don’t really have a strict timeline, then hiring a freelancer is the way to go.
But if you’re company that employs more than 10 people, chances are you need a web vendor that has the experience and track record needed to meet your budget and deadline – not to mention keeping the “suits” happy throughout the process.
What do you feel is best for businesses in 2012 – hiring a web agency or a freelance designer?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image courtesy of Pedro Vezini