Freelance web designer vs design agency - Which is best for my business?

So you’re looking for a new website, refreshing your existing design or going for a complete overhaul. And now you need a web designer, but don’t know whether to go for a freelancer or an agency. Your website is an important part of your marketing arsenal, so you want to be assured you’re making the right choice. Here are a few pointers.

What you need from a website

Before we get into specifics, it helps to know how the online world works and what you hope to achieve from your web design.

To build an online presence, business owners need a website that visitors will engage with. By that, I mean an aesthetically pleasing website that is easy to use.

How many times have you visited a website and been disappointed, confused or overwhelmed? Too many websites are cluttered and difficult to navigate so you can’t find what you want. Then there are websites that are built with standard industry templates that mimic every other website built in the same style. The only difference is the images.

For brands that want to appeal to customers, standard templates are no good. A website that looks and feels the same as your competitors won’t help you stand out to end-users so why would they choose you or why should they stay loyal to you over your rivals?

Hopefully, you’re now in a better position to make an informed choice about whether hiring a freelancer is more beneficial to you over a web design agency or vice-versa.

What you can expect from a freelance web designer

Freelance web designers typically specialise in one or more niches so they can choose to work with industries they know. A web designer that understands your industry, knows who your customers are and what they want, is an invaluable asset when designing a website that has both form and function.

Freelance web designers are usually much more cost-effective than agencies too. They have fewer business overheads, don’t have other staff to pay so these costs aren’t passed on to you in the form of their fees. 

Most freelance web designers are experts and know how to build websites from the ground up. This is important for two reasons: 

  • They can do everything you need
  • They customise your website and ensure it is unique

The second point here is key - having a website that is designed specifically to fulfil your business needs is crucial to attracting and retaining customers. 

What you can expect from a web agency

An agency will usually assign a team of designers and developers that can bounce ideas off one another to create a website. This benefits you as a buyer as more minds on a job usually come up with more ideas (hence why freelancers find a niche they know well). 

Most agencies also have a broader range of software licences so can give your website more possibilities. However, this also costs significantly more and you don’t always need the software they offer. Remember, agencies have overheads to meet so can charge add-ons that you don’t need. Agencies may have an in-house team or rely on a small network of freelancers who they’ll outsource to, adding a markup on the fees they charge. So, it could be argued that by using a freelancer in the first place means you’re cutting out the middleman or woman and saving yourself a bit of your budget.  

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