Web Design Agency Or Freelancer?
By Neil Kilgallon on Tuesday, 26 September 2023
When it comes to creating a compelling and effective website and digital marketing strategy, the choice between employing a web design agency or a freelancer can seem daunting.
While both options have their unique pros and cons, you may find that a full web design and development agency often offers a comprehensive, more diverse skillset and streamlined experience for your next web project.
A creative web design agency often comes with a team of dedicated professionals who specialise in different areas of website creation, from brand creation, design, front-end coding, and back-end development to content creation, online marketing and SEO. This multi-faceted approach can prove invaluable when aiming to create a website that not only looks good but also performs well for your end users.
On the other hand, web design freelancers face a significant challenge: they often have to be jacks of all trades. Unlike a web design team, where each individual can focus on mastering a specific skill, a freelancer has to be adept at multiple areas of website creation. Often, they are usually the sole person responsible for the entire project pipeline, from the initial design concept to the final implementation. This diverse range of responsibilities means that while they might be competent in many areas of the web design process, it is nearly impossible for them to achieve mastery in one specific area. Their focus is split across multiple disciplines, which can result in a lack of any real depth in one area.
Despite this, it's important to note that freelancers can still provide high-quality work, but their diverse skill set may not rival the specialised expertise found in a web design company or agency, where each individual within the team is solely responsible for their core skill and can concentrate within that domain.
Let's delve deeper into why a web design agency might or might not be an ideal fit for your new website.
Web Agency vs. Freelancer Costs
One of the biggest deciding factors on who you choose to work with will likely come down to your budget. When it comes to costs, web design agencies typically charge more than freelancers. This is largely due to the higher overhead costs of running an agency, including salaries for a team of diverse experts and project managers, office space, software subscriptions, and more. The price tag also reflects the breadth and depth of services an agency can specialise in.
On the other hand, freelancers usually have lower rates because they have fewer overhead expenses. They typically work from home and have a narrower range of service offerings.
It's important to note that while the hourly rate for a freelancer might be lower - if they take longer to complete the project because they are working alone, the total project cost might end up being similar to that of an agency.
Project Size And Complexity
Be sure to consider your web project's complexity and scope and the expertise required when making your decision.
A freelancer will likely have no problem designing and coding a simple brochure-style marketing website. It will require limited programming expertise, and they will likely integrate an off-the-shelf content management system such as WordPress.
However, your requirements might be far more involved and complicated. Let's assume you require a fully featured eCommerce website with bespoke functionality, integration with POS terminals and various back-office order processing, accounting and CRM systems. It's highly unlikely that a freelancer is going to have the skill set to complete this project, and if they do take it on, they will likely be subcontracting the back-end web development out. Whilst you might have confidence in the competency of the freelancer, you will likely have no insight into the website developers they are subcontracting work out to.
The more complicated and involved the web design project is, the more likely you are to need the more diverse, specialised web design team offered by an agency.
Other Web Design And Web Development Options
Another option you may want to consider if you are doing a web development project on a tight budget and have some creative skills is to build the website yourself using an online cloud-based platform. SaaS (Software as a Service) website builders like Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify offer a user-friendly platform for creating websites without the need for extensive coding knowledge. These platforms provide pre-designed templates, drag-and-drop functionalities, and built-in hosting services, making website development a breeze for individuals and small businesses.
Squarespace is a popular online website builder that allows users to create professional and aesthetically pleasing websites without any prior coding knowledge. Creatives and small businesses particularly favour it due to its extensive collection of customizable templates. Squarespace's drag-and-drop editor facilitates the creation of personalised websites without requiring coding expertise.
Wix is a well-known cloud-based web development platform that offers a wide range of customizable templates and an AI-driven design assistant, making it a good fit for those who desire a little more flexibility.
Shopify is a go-to choice for online stores, offering robust eCommerce features, including inventory management, payment gateway integration, and marketing tools. Whilst it offers a quick-to-market option for those looking to open an eCommerce store, it will lack the customisation and integration options available to bespoke builds.
While these SaaS website builders offer convenience and ease, they come with limitations in terms of customisation and scalability that bespoke web design services can overcome. Bespoke web design, provided by web design agencies or experienced freelancers, allows for a fully customized website tailored to a business's unique needs. This can facilitate a more distinctive online brand presence, better SEO performance, and an enhanced user experience that pre-defined templates may not fully achieve.
Furthermore, bespoke web design is built to scale, meaning your website can grow and evolve with your business, overcoming the constraints of 'off-the-shelf' SaaS web design solutions.
What Is The Verdict?
In conclusion, the decision between hiring a freelancer web designer or a web design agency for your website development needs depends largely on your budget, project requirements, and long-term business goals.
However, if you're looking for a solution that offers reliability, a diverse portfolio of expertise, scalability, full development services and ongoing support, opting for digital services from a web design agency would likely be the most advantageous choice. A London web design agency can offer a comprehensive team of professionals who collectively bring a wider range of skills and resources to the table than a single freelancer.
While the upfront cost might be higher, the long-term benefits of having a robust, professionally designed website that can adapt and grow with your business make it a worthwhile investment. Ultimately, the assurance of quality, accountability, and the capacity to deliver complex projects within the stipulated timeline often tilts the balance in favour of a web design agency.