Which is best for your business? Freelancer Web Designer vs. Website Design Company.
An independent web designer and a website design agency can offer distinct advantages to a business. This makes it essential to understand why you should hire one over the other. So, let’s take a look at what each of these options can bring to the table to serve your website needs.
Who is a freelance website designer, and how can they help your business?
These are highly skilled independent service providers who work on their own, usually from home. Their website design and development services can range from custom website designing to CMS development. And you can hire a web designer per hour or at a fixed fee, depending on your business needs.
So, what can they offer in terms of cost, service, expertise, and flexibility?
An independent web designer can often offer considerably lower rates compared to a web design agency. This is because freelancers have fewer overheads to cover. They work from home instead of a fancy office in a high-rise building. This eliminates exorbitant rents and utility bills. And since they have no employees, there are no monthly salary commitments either.
For freelancers, keeping their customers happy is important to have a regular flow of income. So, they’ll go out of their way to deliver your project, even if it means working a few extra hours. They’ll spend more time to understand your business requirements and goals. And they will often display a higher level of engagement and commitment. But a web design agency will usually find it hard to match that level of service with their structured work procedures.
And their strict communication processes mean you only get to speak to a project manager. This could leave room for miscommunications and misunderstandings as they convey your needs to the technical team developing the site. But when you’re working with a freelancer, you get to liaise directly with the person responsible for designing your website. This will provide greater comfort and assurance, not to mention a more personalized service.
In the old days, freelancers had far less expertise compared to established agencies. But times have changed, and so have talent. Today, freelance website designers are often skilled in multiple domains and have extensive experience across a range of industries. This has been made possible by the countless opportunities that emerged with the internet. It has broken down geographic barriers, allowing freelance professionals to work with a global client base. It has also enabled them to learn much faster and gain access to a vast knowledge base that was earlier limited to a few.
Freelancers are their own boss. So they tend to be far more flexible than web design companies when it comes to work terms and arrangements. For example, if you want to build on an existing WordPress theme, a freelancer will happily accommodate your request. But an agency might only prefer to take up larger custom web design projects. And freelancers work on their own schedule. So, if you need to speed up a specific task, they will work overnight to accommodate that, too. And if you want to get more involved, they will be happy to let you, whereas an agency might not appreciate it so much.
Best of all, choosing a freelancer means you get the flexibility to hand-pick your very own website designer. But when you hire an agency, you’ll have to work with whoever they assign to your project.
Looking for web designer freelance?
The easiest way to find a web designer freelance is through a platform like Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, and 99designs. The best freelance design websites attract some of the best global talent available. This is because they feature hundreds and thousands of freelance web design projects from clients all over the world. Just click on the “freelance web designer needed” tab on Freelancer.com and you’ll find nearly 400,000 jobs posted on an average day. So, in return, these sites attract hundreds and thousands of talent offering their services at different price categories. This makes them an excellent option to find a professional designer, although shortlisting could be a challenge because of the high number of applicants.
Now, there are several factors to consider when selecting an independent web designer. Start with their work portfolio. It’ll provide important insights into their experience, expertise, and clients. The best freelance web designers will have broad experience, having worked with different industries.
Specific domain expertise is equally important. For example, if you’re planning on using Wix, then you need a freelance Wix designer with plenty of experience building sites on the platform. And the best websites for freelance designers will have various features to highlight their best talent, from customer reviews to testimonials.
But in addition to these sites, you can also browse LinkedIn profiles, post an ad on job sites, and use your professional networks. Alternatively, try a search engine like Google — just type in “freelance web designer near me” and hit the search button.
What is a web design company, and should you hire one?
These companies provide web design services with a pool of talent organized into different areas of expertise, from web strategists and designers to project managers. Web design companies can range from small- to large-sized businesses, depending on the scale of their operation. Some companies organize themselves based on specific expertise, such as small business website design or corporate web design. And unlike in the old days, many of them are no longer limited to a local client base and often maintain an international presence.
And how do they fare in terms of cost, service, expertise, and flexibility?
What you pay will usually depend on the scale of the web design agency. Larger companies will charge much more than their smaller counterparts because of their higher cost base. And sometimes, smaller boutique agencies could also charge higher fees due to specific expertise.
Moreover, many of these companies use rate cards. So, they will not provide the same pricing flexibility offered by freelancers. And some larger agencies might only take up projects that are above a predetermined price level.
You can usually expect a higher level of service from a smaller web design company than a larger one. But regardless of their size, they will often assign a project manager to coordinate work and communication between the client and their team. This could save you from the hassle of dealing with multiple people. However, it could also open up opportunities for miscommunication.
These agencies claim an extensive portfolio of website design services. For example, they could even offer web content writing for a more hassle-free and end-to-end client experience. However, if you want to make the best out of your budget, then you’re better off hiring freelance professionals for these types of specialized services.
And the best web design agencies have the financial capacity to invest in top talent and better resources. But keep in mind that all these come at a cost to the client.
And checking their past work will not necessarily guarantee you a similar quality output either. This is because the designers they employ tend to move frequently from one company to another. So, it’s common to see changes in the quality and style of agency work output from time to time. In fact, this is one of the main reasons for clients to select freelancers over web design agencies. Work delivered by freelancers usually remains consistent, and will even improve, with time.
A web design and development company would often have strict work processes in place to streamline communication and workflows. These can help minimize errors and improve efficiency, especially when it comes to large-scale projects. However, they could also make it difficult for them to respond quickly to your requests. And sometimes, they could result in an unreasonably long time taken to complete simple tasks.
What’s the best way to source a web design company?
You can find the best website design companies in your local area with a simple search on Google or LinkedIn. But if you’re open to working with an international agency, posting an ad on a freelancer platform like Upwork and Guru would be an excellent option, too.
Work portfolios and credentials are the first things to check when shortlisting a web design agency. Larger companies will often have a more high-profile client portfolio, although this is not always an indication of quality and expertise. Some smaller- and mid-sized agencies are just as capable as their larger counterparts.
Then, don’t forget to check the most recent work to ensure they’re not sharing an outdated portfolio. Go into detail to assess their depth of knowledge and experience. Arrange a video call or an on-site meeting with not only their project manager but also the technical team who would deliver the work. This will help ensure that they understand your requirements while also allowing you to assess their service levels.
Also, check for any specific expertise that’s important for your project. For example, if you’re in search of an ecommerce website design company, then you need to ensure they have completed sufficient ecommerce projects within the last 12 months.
In the modern-day business environment, having a website with the right design and functionality is critical for a business to succeed. And your decision to hire a freelance website designer or a web design company will have a profound impact on the final outcome and its delivery.
But how do they compare? To put it simply, a freelancer can offer lower rates, greater work flexibility, and a more personalized service compared to a web design agency. And in the old days, they were the preferred choice for small- to mid-sized projects that are simpler in nature. However, today, high-caliber freelance designers come with a wide range of domain and industry expertise, making them equally capable of efficiently delivering projects of complex nature.
But before you settle for a freelance website designer or a web design company, spend sufficient time to assess and understand your requirements, deadlines, and budgets. This will help both you and the web designers to better meet your expectations with the best possible outcome.