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Hiring freelance UI/UX designers VS. UX agencies

UX design

Whether it is a startup, a young business, or a mid-size company, you have considered a branding or a rebranding initiative. Company heads have some options to consider getting a task like this accomplished. One of the primary decisions involved is whether a company should opt to hire a UX design company or a freelance UX designer to take on the task. A freelance designer would command a lot less of an asking price for potentially the level of work quality, but how does one person rival a team’s worth of experience?

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of hiring freelance UI/UX designers and outsourcing the work to a UX agency.

Trust

Pro: Agency

Outsourced design projects are at the core of what a UI/UX design agency does, so they already have a prebuilt level of professionalism involved in how they operate. These agencies have loads of prior experience between all their staff members, and typically have past design projects and cases that you can study and review before considering an agency’s services. Whether the work examples are to your liking or not, you will have the ability to evaluate their skills, style, and professionalism based on these past project instances.

If you are happy with the quality of the agency’s work, it can result in a long-term relationship that is mutually beneficial for you and the design company you choose. If you have more UX services in the future, you will have a partner company ready to help you out, while having the peace of mind that they will do a great job.

UX design agencies already have a built-in process for accomplishing projects and meeting deadlines, so unlike working with a freelancer you can be confident that your project will be completed on time.

Con: Freelancer

Engaging with a freelancer in a complex realm like UX design can be tricky. When you engage a freelancer, you do not have too many relevant measures by which you can judge the quality or efficacy of their work. Similarly, the freelancer could be apprehensive about taking on a complex project since they do not know you either and it would be detrimental to the time they spent on a project when they don’t know if they will get compensated or not.

It is also possible that after getting hired to work for you, your freelancer receives a superior offer from another client that pays significantly more and shifts their focus to that work, never finishing your project. Similarly, after hiring one freelancer, you might be able to find one who can do the same work for you but has a much lower asking price for the project.

A freelancer might be skilled, but they likely are not equipped with the same level of experience or know-how in the realm of contemporary design practices, so they are less likely to provide you with the quality of a product that a UX design agency with lots of experienced members

could. It is also possible that they have not kept up with design trends and could deliver a final product that does not suit your company’s needs as it is outdated. When hiring a freelancer, you are always rolling the dice on the return on your investment.

Deliverable Quality

Pro: Agency

A UX design agency’s priority is to complete and deliver your project promptly with optimal results. Companies like yours are what keep these agencies in the business, so they have a vested interest in meeting the highest quality standards for the cost you are incurring by using their services.

Larger, more reputable UX design agencies typically allow the project to go through several levels of review before turning your project back over to you. It is to their advantage to do a superb job as well, as clients can review their work. Future prospective clients will then use these reviews to decide whether or not to use this UX design company’s services. This adds motivation to the agencies to assure that they are on the same page with their clients and making sure that all bases are covered before turning over the completed project.

Con: Freelance

A freelancer’s primary concern is that they get paid for their work. This is not to say that a freelancer will not do good work, it is just not their driving factor when being hired for a project. This could however affect the quality of the work, as there is no ‘checkout’ team to bounce ideas off of and review the work.

It is unlikely that the freelancer will share a company’s passion for quality work, so the project that is turned in could be unfinished (if the freelancer feels he/she has done the work they were paid for) or the project will be overly generic (based on a generic template).

The time needed to complete the task is also a vital consideration to keep in mind. The freelancer will be working alone, which means they will need to address any issues they encounter along the way on their own (as they do not have a backing team to help them) and this will likely affect the turnaround time. If you are on a tight timeline, you are taking a chance that the project will not be turned in on time.

To be clear, freelancers do care about their reputation, they get reviewed too. But unless working with freelancers through a reputable program that checks on the quality and incentivizes valuable work, you are taking a chance at receiving a subpar return.

Cost

Pro: Freelance

A freelancer will work alone, so your expectations for quality and value should be tempered should you hire one for your project. However, a freelancer will benefit you in terms of cost as you will certainly only have less than half of the expenditure than what you would spend on a seasoned team of designers for hire.

Con: Agency

Hiring a UI/UX design agency to complete your project will cost substantially more money. There is a reason for this. Design agencies are not just multifaceted teams for people who can all contribute to a fantastic result, they also have a thorough process of work that they apply to the execution of their projects. This process includes firmly understanding a client’s needs, researching, planning, setting goals, creating prototypes, and so on. This is a massive, complicated process that involves a detailed, comprehensive view and understanding of the project, as well as a vast array of knowledge and experience that no one freelancer could hope to rival.

The Bottom Line

The UX designing company is a safer choice when it comes to choosing between a UX freelancer and a UX agency. A team of professionals with multi-tiered levels of reviews and a structured process, assure a more complete design process. The main reason you would want to choose a freelancer would be the significant cost reduction, which is sometimes a necessity for companies on a tight budget. Of course, by doing so, you take a gamble on an untested worker. That is not to say there are not great freelancers out there who seek to give you exactly what you need, but the potential for a disappointing return increases via this process.

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