Freelancer versus Agency when choosing who to help you with your website.

So you either need a brand new website or an upgrade to an old out of date digital presence. Where to start? It’s tricky, like choosing a builder, who do you trust to do a good professional job with an overcrowded marketplace and a thousand people claiming to build websites?

You essentially have 3 options.

  1. DIY: Use a platform such as WIX or Squarespace to build a website.
    These come with low-cost plans but you need to design and build the site yourself without any real help.
  2. Freelancer: You employ someone with experience to build your website guide you through the process and help get you online or updated. Chances are you’ll need to produce content and probably get some outside help with you digital marketing.
  3. Agency: You go to a web agency which employs multiple people with multiple skills to do the whole process for you.

For the purposes of this article, we are discounting options 1 and making the assumption that your time is better spent elsewhere in the business whilst a professional builds you a website.

Choosing between a freelance website designer and a design agency depends on various factors such as budget, project scope, timeline, and the level of expertise required. Here’s a detailed comparison to help you make an informed decision:

Factors to Consider

  1. Budget: Determine how much you are willing to invest. Freelancers are generally more cost-effective, but agencies provide comprehensive services which might be worth the extra cost.
  2. Project Scope: For small to medium-sized projects, a freelancer might suffice. For large-scale projects with complex requirements, an agency might be better suited.
  3. Timeline: If you have a tight deadline, an agency with more resources might be able to deliver faster. However, a dedicated freelancer might also be very efficient.
  4. Quality and Expertise: Assess the portfolio and expertise of both freelancers and agencies. Choose the one whose work aligns best with your project requirements.
  5. Support and Maintenance: Consider the need for ongoing support and updates. Agencies often provide more structured post-launch support.

 

Option 1 – The Freelancer

PROS

  • Cost-Effective: This is the biggie. Freelancers have lower or no overhead costs compared to agencies, making them more affordable by a good way. Based on experience I would say you can expect to pay 4 or 5 times more with an agency.
  • Direct Communication: You work directly with the designer/developer, which can streamline communication and ensure your vision is understood and implemented.
  • Flexibility: Freelancers can often provide more flexible schedules and may be more willing to adapt to changes or unique requirements, they act as designer, developer and project manager so it’s a 1 point of contact.
  • Personalized Service: You often receive more personalized attention and a dedicated focus on your project.

CONS

  • Limited Resources and capabilities: A freelancer might have limited resources and capabilities compared to an agency, especially for large or complex projects.
  • Single Point of Failure: If the freelancer falls ill, has an emergency, or is otherwise unavailable, the project could be delayed.
  • Limited Skill Set: Freelancers may excel in certain areas but may lack comprehensive expertise in others (e.g., SEO, marketing, back-end development). Often, you’ll need to hire a designer, SEO specialist, social media expert and content editor.
  • Capacity Constraints: A single freelancer can only handle a limited number of projects at a time, which could affect the timeline if they are overbooked.
  • Trust: The main disadvantage of hiring a freelancer is how to determine trust. You will be responsible for giving them work and making sure that it is completed on time. If something goes wrong, it will be up to you to fix the problem. If the freelancer doesn’t deliver what you expect, there’s no one to turn to for help.

 

Option 2 – The Agency

PROS

  • Guarantee of quality:  The main advantage of hiring a website design agency is that you’re getting the benefit of years of experience and expertise. An agency will have a team of designers who have worked on a variety of websites, so they’ll be able to help you create a website that looks great and functions well.
  • Customer service: Part of the cost of an agency often include the project management of your project. A dedicated individual who will respond to your needs. If you have any problems with your website, you can contact the agency and they will help you fix the issue. They’re often more reliable than freelancers.
  • Long Term Support: Often freelancers move onto the next project to maintain an income stream you might find long-term support more difficult to access than with an agency. But remember there will always be a (often high) cost involved with that ongoing support.
  • Comprehensive Services: Agencies typically offer a full range of services including design, development, SEO, marketing, and post-launch support. They will have a team of experts with diverse skill sets, ensuring that each aspect of your project is handled by specialists.
  • Reliability: Agencies are often more reliable in terms of meeting deadlines and maintaining continuity since they have multiple staff members who can step in if needed.

CONS

  • COST!!!! Agencies generally charge more than freelancers due to their higher operational costs and the broader range of services offered.
  • Responsiveness: Often agencies are juggling a myriad of projects and your, especially if smaller can fall through the cracks.
  • Less Personal Attention: You might not have direct access to the designer working on your project, as communication is often managed through a project manager.
  • Rigid Processes: Agencies may have more rigid processes and less flexibility in terms of project scope changes or unique client requests. Changes often have a change request process and involve cost no matter how small the change.
  • Potential for Miscommunication: With more people involved, there is a higher chance of miscommunication or delays in conveying your vision accurately.

Conclusion

Both freelancers and agencies have their advantages and disadvantages. Your choice should be based on your specific needs, project complexity, and budget. Now obviously as a freelancer I am slightly biased but as a generalisation.

Choosing a freelancer makes sense when:

  • Your project is small/medium and doesn’t require more than one person to complete it
  • You don’t have a extensive budget
  • You want flexibility in scope
  • Your project has a more elastic timeframe
  • You’re not looking for long-term support

Choosing a design agency makes sense if:

  • Budget is not a huge concern
  • Your project requires custom and complex design and development, or you want all aspects your projects done by the same person/agency.
  • You need a fast turnaround
  • You’re looking for a long-term cooperation

Final (biased) thoughts

Often agencies contract in freelancers to complete your project. On the one hand you don’t have to take a gamble on the trustworthiness of that freelancers, you will pay for the same skills you could get going direct. If you choose a freelancer wisely for your project, they should be able to deliver a quality website in a specified timescale for a fraction of the cost. Look at both agencies and freelancers, make sure you talk to both, look at google reviews and study their previous work. If you don’t like the sites a freelancer has produced, chances are they are not the fit for you. Face to face conversations can give you an instinctive feel for the reliability of both freelance and agency, with that in mind you should probably shop local.

 

 

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